So the big news on campus these days is that students enrolled in San Jose State’s online MOOC, provided by Udacity, on college entry-level math, didn’t fare so well:
Preliminary findings from the spring semester suggest students in the online Udacity courses, which were developed jointly with San Jose State faculty, do not fare as well as students who attended normal classes — though Junn cautioned against reading too much into the comparison, given the significant differences in the student populations.
Ha, ha, you big MOOCs! Here’s undisputed proof that students fare worse in online courses than in the classroom.
But wait — what’s that about “differences in student populations”?
This spring, Udacity and San Jose State offered three online for-credit math courses for $150 to 100 students per course. Of those students, half were San Jose State students and the other half were un-enrolled students who might have come from high schools or the military.
Um. Comparing apples to military and high school oranges here? There’s a learning curve here, people, both for the students and, apparently, for the content providers:
Junn said students who are enrolled in Udacity courses this summer appear to be faring better than students from the spring semester. That is, in part, because of lessons learned this spring, Junn said. Some spring semester students, for instance, were enrolled in the online courses even though they did not have reliable access to computers.
They didn’t have reliable access to computers. Yow.
I’m not even sure where to start critiquing this. How about 1). how much of MOOC failures are structural and not content related? 2). would it kill you, Udacity/SJS, to put in safeguards against students without the proper equipment signing up for a course? 3). I think that they are using the students as a living test bed for their platform and content, which is frankly the way a lot of folks are going. How many students need to flunk so future students might flourish?