San Jose State Suspends Online Classes Project Udacity After As Many As 80% of Students Fail

July 21st, 2013

Via: Los Angeles Times:

San Jose State University is suspending a highly touted collaboration with online provider Udacity to offer low-cost, for-credit online courses after finding that more than half of the students failed to pass the classes, officials said Thursday.

Preliminary results from a spring pilot project found student pass rates of 20% to 44% in remedial math, college-level algebra and elementary statistics courses. In a somewhat more promising outcome, 83% of students completed the classes.

The San Jose State experiment with online education was being closely watched by other universities as they begin to step farther into the virtual classroom.

Udacity, a private Silicon Valley education group, and San Jose State announced jointly that they have agreed to pull the courses this fall to examine results in greater detail and fine-tune many aspects of the project.

“There are many complex factors that relate to student performance, and we’re trying to study the factors that help or hinder students in this environment,” said San Jose State Provost Ellen Junn.

The courses were initially limited to 100 students. The project received a grant from the National Science Foundation to evaluate student outcomes.

The program was expanded this summer with two new courses: computer science and introduction to psychology. Each of the classes costs $150, with no state or federal support.

Udacity co-founder and chief executive Sebastian Thrun could not be reached for comment.

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