Dear Commons Community,
Earlier this week I posted on The Chronicle of Higher Education article on the state of MOOCs at San Jose State University in California. The article entitled, San Jose State U. Puts MOOC Project With Udacity on Hold, essentially raised several critical questions regarding its implementation at this mainstream public university.
Cathy Chiel, Associate Vice President and Senior Academic Technology Officer and a colleague of mind from the Sloan Consortium, in an email, commented on the article. I asked her if it would be okay to post her email to my blog and she graciously agreed. She makes several comments from someone on the inside of the MOOC implementation at San Jose. I am sure readers following MOOC developments will find her insights most interesting.
Tony -----------------------------------------------------Email from Catheryn L. Cheal to Sloan Board of Directors dated July 20, 2013 Hi all, Unfortunately, everything you’ll read in the media about the MOOCs at San Jose is vastly simplified and overly pessimistic. We created courses with MOOC materials, but they aren’t as massive or freely open as MOOCs. The usual media life cycle of overly-hyping an innovation and then turning on it is now in play. It happened with online courses in the early 2000s, then with Second Life, and now with MOOCs. This will blow over too and the type of online materials possible in a MOOC will continue to evolve as one more online option for online education. The math MOOC course, which had the lowest passing rates, had an SJSU student population of those who had previously failed remedial math, and the MOOC course was a second chance, when they usually don’t get a second chance. So those 20% who passed were retained at SJSU when otherwise they would have had to move to a community college. In addition a high school population had been signed up, but those students didn’t have computers at home and we learned about that some 2 or 3 weeks into the course. We worked with the high school to open it’s lab for them in the afternoons. In other words, these courses didn’t have the typical SJSU student population. Passing rates, though, are always something to work on and the summer courses have made some changes that are looking to help, such as an Orientation week, grading on a more granular level (as should be done in all online courses) and numerous faculty/student chat sessions about the material. We won’t have those numbers until the end of the summer. We were planning to give faculty extra time in the fall to study the video-tutorials and work on edits and then teach the MOOCs again in the spring. The tutorials are as detailed as textbooks, so the sequencing and detail needs to be reviewed for flow. There are problems on the business side of things that really need to be worked out, such as enrollment, billing, pre-reqs, data exchange, etc for a smoother process, as well. At any rate, what I’m reading about our courses has more to do with the nature of media than the nature of MOOCs. Cheers, Cathy Catheryn L. Cheal, Ph.D., Associate Vice President and Senior Academic Technology Officer, San Jose State University