San Jose State will suspend online courses offered with Udacity

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 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.

But Udacity and San Jose State announced they jointly agreed to pull the courses this fall to examine results in greater detail and make improvements and adjustments.

“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 Udacity/San Jose State project was announced in January with much fanfare by Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been pushing the state’s public universities to aggressively pursue online education.

There has been considerable push-back since then, however, by faculty and others who question the effectiveness of online courses, especially those offered by the so-called massive open online course providers.


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