College & Careers

Online course experiment between Udacity, San Jose State falls short

San Jose State’s experiment with online course provider Udacity produced disappointing results, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed.

Students taking Udacity math courses this past spring did not perform as well as students taking the same courses in the classroom. The university is halting the program to allow time to determine why no more than 51 percent of Udacity students passed any of the three math courses compared with a 74 percent passage rate in traditional settings.

The university has not decided to end its relationship with Udacity, San Jose State Provost Ellen Junn told Inside Higher Ed. “I think the commitment is to look at the data carefully and make adjustments,” she said.

The university is planning to offer the revised courses again in the spring. The student population taking the online course may differ substantially from the classroom student, said Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun, a Siicon Valley entrepreneur who invented the self-driving car. In addition, professors and Udacity staff were rushing to develop the course as students were starting to take it.

Amid much fanfare, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the partnership between Udacity and San Jose State during a press conference on the San Jose State campus in January. Thrun said at that time that the online approach would expand access to classes and lower costs. The classes, which were developed in concert with university professors, cost between $100 and $150.




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