San Jose State U. Suspends Udacity MOOC Project

Jul 18, 2013 (07:07 AM EDT)

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Inside Eight Game-changing MOOCs
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With the suspension of a partnership with Udacity, San Jose State University's pioneering experiments with massive open online courses seem to be showing best results for blended learning, rather than replacing campus courses with MOOCs.

The university has decided to "pause" the use of Udacity for remedial courses, rather than continuing it in the fall, reports Inside Higher Ed. San Jose State provost Ellen Junn said because of disappointing initial results she wants to take time to review the program with faculty before resuming work with Udacity in the spring of 2014, according to the report.

In January, San Jose State announced plans to offer three online math courses in the spring semester through the Udacity platform, which students could take for just $150 each and receive credit for if completed. However, pass rates for the courses turned out to be worse than for students who took the comparable courses on campus. Part of the problem might be that the courses were produced in a hurry, following the January announcement.

Meanwhile, San Jose State continues to report encouraging results from its work with edX. Although the edX partnership prompted a faculty backlash, it is a supplement rather than a replacement for classroom work. In classes where students viewed edX video lectures prior to coming to class, student performance improved. A paper on those results is in the works. San Jose State's edX work has spurred California's embrace of blended classes as an alternative way of delivering education.

Junn told Inside Higher Ed that the two experiences are hard to compare because the students participating in the blended learning study with edX tended to be more successful students to begin with. The partnership with Udacity, in contrast, was targeted at remedial students and students who had previously failed the same course on campus. The Udacity classes also attracted students who were not otherwise enrolled at the university, including high school students and members of the military. "We stacked the deck against ourselves," Junn told Inside Higher Ed.

Follow David F. Carr at @davidfcarr or Google+, along with @IWKEducation.