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San Jose State Gets Carte Blanche To Use Udacity Course Content

San Jose State University has gone back to the drawing board and tweaked delivery of a much-maligned program set up with MOOC provider Udacity. In this retake three online courses developed with help from Udacity will be offered, but they'll be open only to SJSU students and students attending other California State University institutions through the system's CourseMatch program. The previous iteration of the program, launched with great fanfare in January, also invited participation from high school students, waitlisted students at California Community Colleges, and members of the armed forces and veterans.

One of the upcoming classes — Elementary Statistics — was initially introduced in the spring semester. Two others — Introduction to Psychology and Intro to Programming — were piloted in the summer. They'll all be hosted on the university's standard learning management system, Instructure Canvas. Enrollment will be limited to 70 students for statistics, 150 students for programming, and 35 students for psychology.

Students who complete the coursework successfully will receive college credit. The cost will reflect regular tuition. Udacity has made the content open and free to faculty members, and the company will receive no revenue from the latest arrangement.

The same courses are still available through Udacity's Web site, where those who finish them may receive a certificate of completion from the company.

The university was broadly derided for the pilot efforts, in which dropouts and non-completion of the limited-enrollment MOOC was abysmal. Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun countered, however, that the efforts were experiments and the criticism unwarranted. "To all those people who declared our experiment a failure, you have to understand how innovation works," he reminded readers in a Udacity blog entry. "Few ideas work on the first try. Iteration is key to innovation. We are seeing significant improvement in learning outcomes and student engagement. And we know from our data that there is much more to be done."

In recent weeks, Thrun appeared to be shifting away from the purely academic sector of higher education and redirecting his company's attention to the corporate sector. In a Fast Company interview, the Google and Stanford innovator introduced what he's calling the Open Education Alliance, in which courses leading to complete degrees are taught by university faculty, hosted by Udacity, and sponsored by companies, such as AT&T, which will be able to educate their workforces in the training they deem important.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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