Working out the online (educational) kinks

I wrote yesterday about exciting educational reform in India and the UK (Grannies in the Cloud).  Recent news from San Jose State University make it clear that online education is still a work in progress.

Earlier this year, SJSU teamed up with Udacity to offer remedial math and stats courses to anyone could paid $150.  They have since suspended the experiment after the fail rates were off the charts.  About 85% of the students that signed up actually completed the class, which is a high number, but the pass rates only ranged from 20-44%.  Apparently about 75% usually pass the same courses in a non-online setting.

Forbes has a good article detailing some of the reasons that the program might not have worked so well. Ironically, the title of the piece is “Failing Fast,” which I assumed to be (cruelly) referring to the students who failed the course but actually refers to Udacity.

I’m glad that the university is going to work with Udacity to rethink the program and try again in 2014.  A lot of the trouble with the courses seemed to stem from the fact that they were put together in a rush without adequate thought and preparation.

2 thoughts on “Working out the online (educational) kinks

  1. In my experience, without adequate time to prepare and a good support structure to work out the kinks early, even a simple educational technology like clickers can become more of a hindrance than a help.

  2. It could be a good thing that there’s a high fail rate. It’s hard to fail a person you are looking in the eye, even if it’s good for him. Those who fail can take the class again at that price. It could be an excellent way to let folks run through faster and cheaper if they can, and give more time (and more expense) for those that need to take longer.

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