California pilots $150 online courses

For $150 per online course, California students will be able to earn college credit as part of a partnership between San Jose State University and Udacity, a Silicon Valley MOOC start-up, reports the New York Times. Remedial algebra, college algebra and introductory statistics will be the first courses offered.

The pilot won’t be massive:  It will be limited to 300 students from San Jose State, local community colleges and nearby high schools. San Jose State professors will design the courses, which will include interactive quizzes. Udacity will provide the platform and the support services, such as online mentors.

Ellen N. Junn, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the university in San Jose, said the California State University System faces a crisis because more than 50 percent of entering students cannot meet basic requirements.

“They graduate from high school, but they cannot pass our elementary math and English placement tests,” she said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown kicked off the partnership with a phone call to Sebastian Thrun, one of Udacity’s founders.  Brown hopes low-cost online courses will lower costs and speed graduation for thousands of California students who now have trouble getting into the classes they need.

EdX, a MIT-Harvard collaboration, will begin offering “blended” classes at  two Massachusetts community colleges this month, reports the Times.

Recently edX completed a pilot offering of its difficult circuits and electronics course at San Jose State to stunning results: while 40 percent of the students in the traditional version of the class got a grade of C or lower, only 9 percent in the blended edX class got such a low grade.

Unlike the blended class, the Udacity pilot will require students to work entirely online.

If student success rates are high in the pilot courses, the $150 courses could be opened to high school and community collegestudents across the country by this summer, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

It’s not a sure thing, said Thrun at the press conference. “There’s a big if here because we are very skeptical ourselves whether this actually works,” he said. “We set it up as an experiment of scale, but we don’t know if this is a viable path to education.”

“Failure is the precursor for success,” said Brown, vowing to learn from setbacks.

“I hope this will be such a game-changer,” said Mo Qayoumi, San Jose State’s president.

Online outreach has boosted retention rates for online courses offered by the University of Georgia’s eCore, reports Education Sector.

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[…] For $150 per online course, California students will be able to earn college credit in remedial algebra, college algebra and introductory statistics. The San Jose State-Udacity pilot will be limited to 300 university, community college and high school students. Udacity will provide support services, such as online mentors. […]

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