But by all accounts, the San Jose experiment was a bust. Completion rates and grades were worse than for those who took traditional campus-style classes. And the students who did best weren’t the underserved students San Jose most wanted to reach.
It wasn’t really proving to be cheaper, either, says Peter Hadreas, the chairman of San Jose State’s philosophy department.
“The people that do well in these kind of courses are people who are already studious. Or … who are taking courses for their own enrichment after they’ve graduated,” he says.
“A year and a half ago … people thought this was going to solve the problems of higher education because people would be educated for less money. That’s not the way it’s worked out.”
Now, San Jose State is scaling back its relationship with Udacity, taking more direct control of the courses it offers through the company and rethinking its commitment to MOOCs.
‘We Have A Lousy Product’
Other schools are hitting the pause button as well. A recent confirmed a massive problem: MOOCs have painfully few active users. About half who registered for a class ever viewed a lecture, and completion rates across all courses.
Sebastian Thrun, Udacity’s co-founder and a prime mover in MOOCs, magazine, “We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product.”
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