Udacity’s online partnership with San Jose State was suspended because of low pass rates in for-credit classes in its first semester. Pass rates improved significantly over the summer, exceeding on-campus pass rates in statistics, algebra and programming, but falling short in psychology and entry-level math, writes Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun.
Learning from what didn’t work in the spring, Udacity changed some of the course content, Thrun writes.
We added hints for challenging exercises, and we added more course support staff to assist with online discussions and communications. We also changed the pacing methodology, informing students earlier and as part of their course experience when they were falling behind.
Enrollment was opened to anyone who wanted to try. Only 11 percent were California State University students. Half of the summer students already held a college degree and only 15 percent were high school students. In the Spring Pilot, half the participants were high school students (mostly from low-income areas) and half were San Jose State students.
Earning college credit was not the leading motivation, students said.
“Few ideas work on the first try,” Thrun writes. Udacity will keep working to improve the courses, especially in remedial math, which had the weakest results.