Long-Awaited NSF/San Jose Evaluation of MOOCs Released Yesterday!

Dear Commons Community,

A NSF-funded San Jose State University research team has taken a close look at a high-profile experiment in which the institution offered “augmented” online courses (MOOCs) last spring in partnership with the online-learning company Udacity. The team released its long-awaited report late yesterday, and it contains few surprises.  As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“.. the university and Udacity stole much of the report’s thunder two weeks ago, when both made a big deal about how students’ grades in the online courses—dismal in the spring experiment—had improved when the same courses were offered again during the summer, this time to students who were largely better prepared.

The university’s experiment has attracted a fair amount of attention because it attempts to test whether the technology and approach that Udacity has taken for its massive open online courses—MOOCs—can be adapted to work in conventional online courses offered to a limited number of students by a traditional university.”

While the spring results were indeed discouraging—students in comparable face-to-face courses did much better—the researchers say that low pass rates in the online courses “should be considered in light of the fact that the project specifically targeted at-risk populations”.



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