Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

San Jose State Suspends Collaboration With Udacity

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the much-easier-to-stay-home-and-skip-class-when-you're-already-home dept.

Education 116

New submitter ulatekh writes "San Jose State University is suspending a highly touted collaboration with online provider Udacity to offer low-cost, for-credit online courses after finding that more than half of the students failed to pass the classes. 'Preliminary results from a spring pilot project found student pass rates of 20% to 44% in remedial math, college-level algebra and elementary statistics courses. In a somewhat more promising outcome, 83% of students completed the classes.'"

cancel ×

116 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Microsoft Learning (-1, Offtopic)

Linux User 95 (2989793) | about a year ago | (#44331439)

What comes to learning and education, I've found Microsoft Learning [microsoft.com] to be the place to go. They offer great amount of courses on subjects like Visual Studio, MTA training, MCSE: Server Infrastructure, MCSE: Data Platform, MCSA: Windows Server 2012, MCSA: SQL Server 2012, MCSD, MCITP, Office and SharePoint. It's definitely one of the top places to go if you want to learn valuable IT skills that workplaces appreciate greatly.

Re:Microsoft Learning (-1, Offtopic)

MemoryParts (2989973) | about a year ago | (#44331493)

Who modded this post offtopic? It's perfectly on topic, the discussion is about online learning courses.

Re:Microsoft Learning (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331611)

Woah, your user numbers have all the same numbers.

Re:Microsoft Learning (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331953)

The comment ID numbers are transpositions of each other, too. WTF?

Re:Microsoft Learning (4, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44331625)

From TFS

remedial math, college-level algebra and elementary statistics courses

No. It's not on topic; these are all math courses.
MS-specific courses wouldn't even be barely on topic for an IT education.

Also; if anybody with an open-source-inspired name starts first-posting with links to MS sites; check their posting history and see if they've ever posted anything non-MS-related, often you'll find they won't. Lately every first post on slashdot seems to somehow relate whatever TFA is about to some random MS link.

Re:Microsoft Learning (1)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#44332283)

Also; if anybody with an open-source-inspired name starts first-posting with links to MS sites; check their posting history and see if they've ever posted anything non-MS-related, often you'll find they won't. Lately every first post on slashdot seems to somehow relate whatever TFA is about to some random MS link.

It's too much work to check the background of every random poster, which is exactly what they're betting on. Maybe we should have a /. version of "spot the Fed".

Re:Microsoft Learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331627)

Is this a shill train? Can I get on too? To whom do I send my contact information to collect my pay?

Re:Microsoft Learning (2)

Linux User 95 (2989793) | about a year ago | (#44331847)

hairyfoot, United States

Re:Microsoft Learning (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331637)

Who modded this post offtopic? It's perfectly on topic, the discussion is about online learning courses.

Because there's no "-1, Shill" mod option?

Re:Microsoft Learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332427)

Who modded this post offtopic? It's perfectly on topic, the discussion is about online learning courses.

Because there's no "-1, Shill" mod option?

Now, now... I used to think that myself when I was young and stupid like you are. But eventually I wondered to myself, why would MS hire out shills to infest Slashdot of all places? I mean, even they should know nobody ever comes here any more, and that Slashdot's glory days are well behind it.

Well... okay, no, maybe MS wouldn't be aware of that, but the point is, I eventually came to the conclusion it's just a troll. Not all that good of one, mind, and a bit repetitive if you ask me, but just a troll nonetheless.

Re:Microsoft Learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331641)

It looks like ad copy, and Slashdot has a very anti-Microsoft mindset. So... you basically created the perfect storm for yourself there.

Re:Microsoft Learning (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44332467)

Who modded this post offtopic? It's perfectly on topic, the discussion is about online learning courses.

Apparently not unless they have a course on Microsoft Algebra and Microsoft Statistics.

Like horses (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44331465)

You can lead a student to learning, but you can't make them think.... or do the homework.

It's not that simple... (4, Insightful)

jopsen (885607) | about a year ago | (#44332149)

You can lead a student to learning, but you can't make them think.... or do the homework.

It's not that simple... the story is that getting students into class, etc... i.e. the more traditional educational approaches, leads to more students doing the work required to learn something.

I often see people bashing about how universities are expensive, and we should all drop out and just follow online courses... i.e. Learn it on our own...
But this clearly shows that showing up for class, discussion with others and having supervisors expecting things from you is very important.
Obviously, it should come as no surprise that educating your self, versus showing up for class, that ladder options is easiest and, thus, most likely to succeed.

Luckily, I'm from a country where education is free... In fact, my living expenses were more or less covered, during the 5 years I just spend taking an MSc in CS.

Re:It's not that simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332469)

But this clearly shows that showing up for class, discussion with others and having supervisors expecting things from you is very important.

Bullshit, it shows nothing of the sort.
What it shows is that the University cares more about how many people pass the course, and don't give a flying fuck about whether or not the course actually teaches them anything.

Re:It's not that simple... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44332977)

Not true, or at least not true for any college that people want to attend. It might be true for private for profit colleges, but most colleges care about their reputation rather than just skimming money off students that are unlikely to ever complete their degree.

Having the best program in subject X allows them to attract better students and better faculty. And having better students and better faculty means being able to better attract grants for research. It also means that students going to that school in that highly sought after program are more likely to be able to afford to pay higher tuition than students that go to one where the school is basically just rubber stamping the diplomas.

Then again, I'm guessing that you either didn't go to college or you went to one which was sub par. I personally went to a very good school, and it shows.

Re:Like horses (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44332461)

You can lead a student to learning, but you can't make them think.... or do the homework.

Apparently, ye olde traditional brick and mortar schools at least have an edge on making them do their homework, if not actually think...

Re:Like horses (-1, Flamebait)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44332697)

You can lead a student to learning, but you can't make them think.... or do the homework.

Apparently, ye olde traditional brick and mortar schools at least have an edge on making them do their homework, if not actually think...

Keep in mind that this is San Jose State, which is barely one notch up from a community college. Ambitious, self-motivated students are not common there. I live in San Jose, and I have worked with a number of SJSU interns and graduates. I don't expect any of them to be future Nobel Prize winners. If this same program was done at Berkeley or Stanford, I think you would see different results.

Re:Like horses (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44333025)

When I was in college, we did very, very little homework. We spent a huge amount of time actually in class discussing things and doing projects, but comparatively very little in terms of homework.

The point that you're missing is that studying isn't homework or projects. It isn't tests or any one thing. Studying is time spent interacting with the field and learning the nuances of it. And online course pretty much just give you one way of doing it. If that doesn't work for you, or something comes up, then you end up failing.

When all is said and done, the success rates of these classes tend to be quite low.

Re:Like horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332655)

You can lead a student to learning, but you can't make them think.... or do the homework.

Yup. Betcha they'll try and throw online discussions and group work at it. I take some online courses from the local CC with regular classes in the hopes I will be preparing myself for continued online learning after school is completed. But trying to have insightful discussions and projects with people that can't count to potato kills my interests in the course. Degrades the experience by propping up the imbeciles.

Re:Like horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44334207)

You can lead a student to learning, but you can't make them think.... or do the homework.

Yep. I TA an online course and the "students" are the whiniest bunch of self-entitled layabouts expecting you to hand-feed them their assignments and extend deadlines at their whim.

In other news (4, Funny)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#44331473)

In a somewhat more promising outcome, 83% of students completed the classes.

And 100% of students successfully signed up for the program.

Graduation rates (3, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44331535)

Well duh, but seeing as how in many areas an 83% completion rate for a high school grade would be considered excellent, I can see why they consider it a positive sign.

The 20-44% pass rates though, are pretty bad. For any cost-benefit analysis I'd want to know:
1. How much the courses cost per course per student
2. Where the students started knowledge wise, and where they ended, on average. Were they barely falling short?
3. How much time the students had to invest in the course(another expense).

Still I like the article, it mentions that their trial, while not particularly successful, did give them many areas to investigate for improvement.

Re:Graduation rates (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44331603)

Why is that a bad pass rate?

I took plenty of college classes with such rates, they were designed to filter out people who did not belong there.

Re:Graduation rates (4, Informative)

fish waffle (179067) | about a year ago | (#44331695)

Remedial math, elementary statistics, and basic algebra are not typically filter courses. In a university context most students who choose to take those courses should be passing.

Re:Graduation rates (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44331831)

Have you been to a university lately? Or talked to the average person. Maybe those folks don't belong there at all.

Re:Graduation rates (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44333055)

I currently tutor math, physics, chemistry, computer science, statistics and whatever else people come into our learning center for.

Some of these people have been out of college for years. Some are there because they had an undiagnosed learning disorder. And the bulk of the remainder are there because the school they went to was stocked with incompetent teachers using an incompetent curriculum.

If we prevented everybody that needed help in these sorts of areas, we would filter out some of the best and brightest out there. As well as filtering out a ton of lesser minds that are still well suited to college. for instance, following that route we probably would have filtered out Einstein, Edison. Leonardo amongst others. And those three contributed an unimaginably large amount of ideas that we use regularly in modern society.

Re:Graduation rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333563)

Despite popular misconception, Einstein look very promising to his teachers and attended best technical instituted of the time. He had personality conflict with one teacher and that one told about him that he is smart but lazy (or something of the sort).

Einstein was never bad student.

Re:Graduation rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44334793)

Einstein didn't talk until he was nearly 10 according to his mother. And upon death it was discovered that the part of the brain related to spacial reasoning was completely gone.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44332071)

It depends by what you mean by college and how elitist you are.

A good chunk of what universities do is to retrain middle age students for a new career. Think 30ish year old trying to become a nurse and has not had to touch a math textbook for 15 years. Capable students but they need this as their first step.

Re:Graduation rates (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44332101)

Elitist to expect people to have basic mathematical skills? Is it elitist when I expect the average adult to be able to read and write? How about speak without drooling on themselves? How low do you want the bar?

Re:Graduation rates (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44332517)

Elitist to expect people to have basic mathematical skills?

Since when is "college-level algebra" a "basic mathematical skill"? What do you accept as a sufficient qualification for prospective grad students, the Abel Prize?

Re:Graduation rates (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#44332821)

Elitist to expect people to have basic mathematical skills?

Since when is "college-level algebra" a "basic mathematical skill"? What do you accept as a sufficient qualification for prospective grad students, the Abel Prize?

When HS-level algebra is getting 75% on a seventh-grade algebra test, and college-level algebra is getting 90% on the same seventh-grade algebra test, then graduate-level algebra is getting a passing grade on undergraduate-level math exams. (And, yes, post-grad algebra should get 90% or higher on any graduate-level exam.)

I'm not making these rules... the latest generation of kids are just that much dumber.

Re:Graduation rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333351)

College-level algebra should refer to the algebra not generally taught in most high schools, i.e. abstract algebra or linear algebra rather than what is covered as Algebra I, II, III in most high school curriculum.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44334077)

College should be about making students think. They should shake off the ego feeding "everyone is special" BS that they get from high school. If they can't do the most basic of work (remedial math) then I don't want them being my nurses. Maybe they're ok to cut my hair but you don't need a college degree for that. They won't be able to handle their later classes if they can't handle the remedial stuff that should have been taught in high school. It's not hard stuff to get a passing grade in, it just needs the student to study and concentrate.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44332599)

No – but elitist do expect that freshmen have glittering high school prep backgrounds – they expect formal training in math, English, etc.

I know a lot of smart people who come from unconventional backgrounds and lacked a decent high school education. Bad family life, bad high school. Good family but liked weed too much. Whatever. Then something clicks in their 20s or 30s and they hit their stride.

So no, for somebody starting their education I would not expect them to know algebra. Now, coming out of college – different story.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44333075)

Exactly, and I work with those people pretty much every day. They're not typically stupid or lazy and they often times don't even have a learning disorder. It's just that they didn't have the access to education that they needed to round out one or two key subjects.

I mean, hell, until I took remedial math in college, I thought that I sucked at it. These days, I'm helping other people with it and contemplating becoming a high school math teacher.

Re:Graduation rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333755)

Sorry, didn't mean to hit redundant. Stupid track pad.

Re:Graduation rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333471)

Stats is a little different from the others here, so I'm going to set it aside and focus on the other two. You'd think that those who took remedial math/basic algebra (pre-"college algebra" level classes) would be able to succeed, but consider that those students have generally had 3-4 years of high school math (you can count some middle school depending on how remedial you make the remedial course) and not yet mastered that material. If they haven't learned it in that long, what are the odds of success when you compress the content from a year (or more) into a semester and remove 1/3-1/2 of the instructional time relative to what they experienced in high school? The passing rates for these classes are abysmal in traditional classes. My last institution had two remedial maths before College Algebra. The first time success rates for those passing the first remedial and entering the second or passing the second and entering college algebra were abysmal. Part of this is that these courses have to 'refresh' so much material that they don't get enough focus on the particular topics where students have difficulties while overworking areas where they are fine. Rather than a traditional class for these, I'd rather see something like Art Of Problem Solving's Alcumus or the computer based testing suites that adapt to student mistakes.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44331897)

Because a remedial math class is NOT designed to filter people out.

And since the College is shutting it down I would speculate that it was because of poor course design, not because of the students. (For the classes described I am assuming they are not getting the best and brightest and were expecting a low pass rate, but maybe something higher than 20 to 44 - and no – I have not RTFA)

Re:Graduation rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333505)

Remedial classes are not designed to filter people out per se, but there is a reason that passing with a C or better is a pre-requisite to the next class - you do a student no favor by passing them on to a higher class when they haven't mastered the skills necessary for success in that class. Often these classes are given to ex-high school teachers serving as adjuncts/instructors and unfortunately for the faculty teaching more advanced classes (and the students though they often don't realize it) these teachers sometimes let more students squeak through than they should, particularly when deans, provosts, and presidents start talking about student retention initiatives.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

The Rizz (1319) | about a year ago | (#44332065)

Why is that a bad pass rate?

I took plenty of college classes with such rates, they were designed to filter out people who did not belong there.

Because these weren't "weeding out" types of courses. TFS even says it: They were remedial and entry-level courses.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about a year ago | (#44332573)

In my days in university we didn't so much have weedout classes, but moreso classes people took for years in a row ... probability and statistics was one of those. Otherwise smart people can become surprisingly stupid when the questions are poised as puzzles about black and white marbles.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#44331651)

Well duh, but seeing as how in many areas an 83% completion rate for a high school grade would be considered excellent, I can see why they consider it a positive sign.

I assume "completion of a high school grade" involves passing a number of required courses to do so

What would be the definition of completing a course? Not dropping it? Passing it?

Re:Graduation rates (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44332111)

If they drop out of high school, all the classes for that year would be 'incomplete'. That's a bit different of a standard than pass/fail, but I can understand the mistake. Most of the time 'complete' = 'pass', but for these courses most completed the course(didn't drop out), but still failed it.

Re:Graduation rates (2)

nickittynickname (2753061) | about a year ago | (#44332409)

I'd bet, 39-63% of the class was too lazy to drop out. I bet some forgot they were even in the course.

Re:Graduation rates (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44332715)

Depends on how they figure 'completed' I guess. I'd use 'did the final' as a measure for 'completed'.

No final done = didn't complete.

Re:Graduation rates (3, Insightful)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#44332853)

I would disagree with you, but I've taken some MOOCs and forgot about my enrollment 2 months later... then there's an email, "congratulations to all students who submitted their final exam by the deadline!"

Re:In other news (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#44331581)

Actually, we don't know if 100% of students successfully signed up; we only know that the 100% represents those who successfully signed up. After all, just like in the real world, there must be consideration for financial aid/support challenges, signed-up deadlines, and whether sufficient offline/off-hours support was made available to students.

Just because information is available online does not mean that any student can separate the wheat from the chaff -- in terms of understanding basic mathematical concepts and how to apply them properly.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332255)

Actually, we don't know if 100% of students successfully signed up

Yes, we do. If they didn't successfully sign up then they weren't students.

Re:In other news (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44334009)

Go team!

An analogy to the online learning craze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331495)

Home treadmills and exercise bikes. In theory, they should be great.

These pass rates may be fair. (3)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44331519)

I went back and finished my associates, graduating this past December. If there's one thing I observed, it's that a lot of people passed classes who really shouldn't have. Thanks to treating professors' pass rates as a measure of success, following a syllabus is all you really have to do to pass these days. If online students weren't even putting in that kind of effort, there's nothing an instructor can do for them.

Is that not a good thing? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44331575)

It means the classes were actually properly graded and mean something. If you are passing 80% of folks you are likely teaching no one anything.

Re:Is that not a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331795)

This is the first time I've heard of social promotion in college. I feel kind of sick.

Re:Is that not a good thing? (5, Interesting)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about a year ago | (#44331825)

Not in this case. We're talking about remedial mathematics and elementary statistics here. These are courses that every adult in this entire country should have a firm grasp of. It's absolutely ridiculous that more than 5% of these students are failing these courses.

This means that we have adults, people in charge of running their own lives, who don't fully comprehend how fractions or percentages work. There are people who are eligible to obtain loans and credit that can't calculate compound interest. It's a fucking miracle that we've managed to come this far while being this ignorant.

Re:Is that not a good thing? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44331947)

You have way too high of expectations of people. I bet less than 30 percent of random Americans would pass such courses.

If this is news to you, you need to get out more. I am almost certain most people taking such loans cannot calculate compound interest. I bet 50% of adults in this country can't describe it.

We have folks who think the world is 6000 years old, believe iron age myths over scientific facts and you are surprised they also suck at math?

Re:Is that not a good thing? (1, Insightful)

codepigeon (1202896) | about a year ago | (#44332357)

I love your USA centric thinking. I am an avid user of both Udacity and Coursera. I would take a guess that easily 90% of people using these sites are not U.S. citizens.

That number is more troubling to me than any pass/fail rates. There doesn't seem to be a love of learning in USA.

Re:Is that not a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44334767)

There doesn't seem to be a love of learning in USA.

In the USA, love to learn stuff gets you ridiculed for life, and knowing nothing is "cool".

Re:Is that not a good thing? (1)

l2718 (514756) | about a year ago | (#44332799)

Wake up and smell the roses. And then try to fix elementary school. It's practically impossible to repair this damage by the time students reach college (and even highschool is too late).

Re:Is that not a good thing? (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#44332895)

This means that we have adults, people in charge of running their own lives, who don't fully comprehend how fractions or percentages work. There are people who are eligible to obtain loans and credit that can't calculate compound interest. It's a fucking miracle that we've managed to come this far while being this ignorant.

It's called "financial literacy" and the Great Recession should have taught you one thing: practically nobody on this planet is financially literate. I've come across some pretty dumb financial illiterates folks with post-graduate degrees and positions of authority... and don't know how to tip a waiter or calculate 10% discounts at the mall.

Re:Is that not a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332905)

Not in this case. We're talking about remedial mathematics and elementary statistics here. These are courses that every adult in this entire country should have a firm grasp of. It's absolutely ridiculous that more than 5% of these students are failing these courses.

And apparently those who need remedial math at the college level are just as likely (or more likely) to fail an online class as fail a traditional class. This program was intended to be more like summer school for the kids who failed basic math, and unsurprisingly the failure rate was just as high. Perhaps the school realized that these students don't belong in college and providing this extra avenue of teaching wasn't paying off?

Riiight (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year ago | (#44332929)

most of the population really gives a flying fuck about factions and percentages when most of their income goes to living expenses. I learnt to rebuild outboard and lawn mower motors in high school, like I'm going to remember how to do it 20 years later when I haven't done that since skool.

Re:Riiight (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44334121)

What's better for society in the long run? To have the majority of citizens with the attitude that it's hard and not necessary, or a majority of citizens who think that learning is important even if it's not every day practical? Do we want citizens that are basically ignorant and let the elites do all the thinking or citizens that can tell when they're being lied to?

Re:Is that not a good thing? (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year ago | (#44333177)

Actually, most everyone should pass a given class, after freshman year.

My actuarial education involved stats, calculus, and linear algebra the first year. 1/3 of the students switched majors, most mid-way through the first semester. Too difficult. The pass rate in cut classes can be very high. But this is a good thing,

The remaining group went on to finish the program. There were occasional D grades, but outright failing was rare and usually involved a change in major. Again, the difficulty of the classes progressed quicklly (life contingencies was crazy hard during my senior year). I'm sure most sciences are like this.

I have family that can't handle basic algebra. But he can operate a heavy lifter to clean up train accidents. He's also haz-mat certified for disaster situations (train wrecks involving chemicals or other dangerous materials). And he knows some stats, he's into sports... He knew he wasn't college material and never attempted that route.

Why is that rate bad? (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#44331593)

In any online effort, you are going to get a ton of people who sign up, some that follow along the first few weeks, and then a significant dropoff as people move on to other things.

You cannot apply in-person success rates to online efforts.

Perhaps what they need to do is organize the classes around micro-classes no longer than two weeks. That way they wouldn't get people just dropping off the grid and actually finishing classes... you could string together a series of such classes to make a whole course. It would also let people jump in at the level they felt comfortable at and not bored.

Re:Why is that rate bad? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44331621)

Nor should the quality of the class be measured by a pass rate, at least not as a major metric.

Then the best class would be one that simply passed anyone and everyone.

Re:Why is that rate bad? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about a year ago | (#44331851)

They measured the rate of people who complete the course separate from the rate of people who passed the course. Over 80% completed the course but only 40% passed.

Not much of a distinction (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#44331919)

Over 80% completed the course but only 40% passed.

What do they really mean by "completed" though? I take it to mean 40% of people were too lazy to drop out of the class, or simply didn't want to do homework. Some people just want to learn without needing a yardstick they can show to other people.

Re:Why is that rate bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44331931)

Apparently you suffer from a reading comprehension issue.

Assumption (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about a year ago | (#44331647)

There seems to be an assumption that just because they didn't pass the class, they failed to anything at all. I'm sure the people who didn't pass knew long before the end that they weren't doing well. The fact most of them stuck with it anyways suggests they still found value in the experience.

Re:Assumption (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44331727)

Online courses are the collegiate equivalent of independent study programs. Independent study programs are definitely not for everyone.

Not Udacit, but Coursera... (4, Interesting)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#44331655)

I don't have any experience with Udacity, but I do have an experience with Coursera that caused me, the student, to shy away from their courses.

I completed a course through Coursera from the University of Toronto. It was a good course, and I enjoyed it. Learned a lot from the course. In the final week of the course (it wasn't a free-for-all - I had to register for the course and complete it, with tests every week, during and eight week period set but the U of Toronoto), there was an exam that would make up 50 percent of my total grade. Coursera completely fell over that final week, and I wasn't able to gain access to the test until two days after the course deadline. So there went an otherwise good grade. They wouldn't allow any tests to be taken after the deadline, regardless of technical issues.

I had spent a total of around 40-45 hours with the course, 20 of those hours were video lectures that needed to be watched, the rest was study time. Even though all I would get from the course was a certificate of completion, I felt cheated and like I'd wasted a lot of my time for what was otherwise a good course.

Would I take another course? Maybe, but I know that if I were studying for transferable college credit, I would have been seriously pissed.

I wonder how much of the non-pass rate was due to issues other than actual class material in Udacity's case.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#44331819)

They'll offer the same course again sooner or later; just take it again next time.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (2)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#44331899)

They'll offer the same course again sooner or later; just take it again next time.

Yeah, see, that's the problem right there. That's not the answer. Making sure that technical issues aren't a problem is key for any of these MOOCs to work, whether it's Udacity, Coursera, edX or any other platform, particularly if it's for real, transferable college credit.

Telling people to "just take it again" because the platform fucked up is just going to drive students elsewhere.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44332301)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_costs [wikipedia.org]

Regardless of how often they offer the class, he'll never get back the hours he already put in.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (1)

khchung (462899) | about a year ago | (#44334779)

They'll offer the same course again sooner or later; just take it again next time.

"You didn't get your paycheck this month? We will be sending the same check again sooner or later, just cash it next time. Now keep working!"

Yeah, that will work.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (1)

Guru80 (1579277) | about a year ago | (#44332041)

I took a large portion of my classes online several years ago back when online classes were still going through their growing pains so naturally there was all kinds of technical issues that arose. As long as it was on the online class end be it software or servers or any other cause you always got an extra day extension even way back then so I find it ridiculous that a technical problem that was on their end and not yours would just cost you your grade. If I couldn't connect and it was on my end than that was obviously on me to find a solution either buy fixing my damn connection or going to the computer lab or library.

I would never take a course anywhere that had that as their policy and if it really is a "if we screw up on our end you still pay" policy they have then shame on anyone giving money to that kind of scummy organization.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#44332337)

If I couldn't connect and it was on my end than that was obviously on me to find a solution either buy fixing my damn connection or going to the computer lab or library.

I would never take a course anywhere that had that as their policy and if it really is a "if we screw up on our end you still pay" policy they have then shame on anyone giving money to that kind of scummy organization.

I don't have the link handy at the moment, but the Coursera failure made news in the Canadian press at the time. The course I took wasn't for transferable credit, so I wasn't out any money, just time.

Regardless, you can't put a failure like that on the student. It rested squarely on the shoulders of Coursera and the U of Toronto for its policies.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333573)

Unless it is as progress to a degree, the reason to do these classes is to learn something. You seem to have done so, so why is the lack of the certificate so upsetting? Presumably you had a good feel for how you would have done on the test before taking it, so why not be content with learning what you could from the course?

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#44333813)

Unless it is as progress to a degree, the reason to do these classes is to learn something. You seem to have done so, so why is the lack of the certificate so upsetting? Presumably you had a good feel for how you would have done on the test before taking it, so why not be content with learning what you could from the course?

If you go back to my original post, I wasn't upset at not receiving a certificate. I learned quite a bit from the course. The point I was trying to make was that if I had paid money to take a class for credit, only to be shut out by a technical issue that was clearly the fault of Coursera/U of Toronto policies, I would have been out of luck. I also posited whether the percentage of the no-pass rate for UCSJ/Udacity could have had anything to do with technical issues.

The article isn't specific as to *why* the percentage was what it was.

Re:Not Udacit, but Coursera... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44332287)

Even though all I would get from the course was a certificate of completion, I felt cheated and like I'd wasted a lot of my time for what was otherwise a good course.

Hell, I'm still waiting on my certificate for the Intro to Music Production class I successfully completed 3 months ago...

Online: How hard can it be? (4, Insightful)

J Story (30227) | about a year ago | (#44331693)

Reading between the lines, my guess is that many students thought an online course "inferior" to regular classes, and therefore okay to slack off when doing. Time, however, or time management, may be more the enemy than actual course matter.

I know a high school student who takes online school courses, and one of the ongoing problems for the parents is getting the student to understand that there are X modules to do and only Y days to do them in. Dividing X by Y means that every two or three days something must be completed and sent in for marking. If this requirement is difficult for a high school student to follow without parental hectoring, then it is entirely understandable that kids only a couple years older, who no longer have their parents to help keep them on track, are going to run into problems.

Not really about whether Udacity is "good" (2)

shankarunni (1002529) | about a year ago | (#44331805)

The main reason SJSU (and other schools) are looking at Udacity and its like, is to be able to spend less time and resources on remedial courses for incoming students (the California State Univ system is basically the entry-level university for the state). If Udacity could ensure that a majority of these students pass those courses, then SJSU can focus its efforts on "real" university material.

They seem to have fallen down on that deliverable, so SJSU really has no option but to toss them, and go back to teaching those remedial courses in person.

Really, this is quite an undesirable outcome for all sides (students, the university, and Udacity). Most of the students involved in remedial courses are those who have already failed at learning (enough) in a hands-on setting (school). Udacity's job was cut out for them - to do better than hands-on teaching, with students that are significantly harder to teach. So not too surprising in this context..

Re:Not really about whether Udacity is "good" (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#44332473)

A lot of universities already do something similar anyways.

The University Of Alabama in Huntsville teaches all math courses below Calculus in a computer lab. I'm pretty sure grad students teach those courses too. All they need to do is tape the lectures, and boom instant online course.

I know it's not really that easy, but quite a few universities really think that way. They have these (horrible) online homework systems for huge classes. So why not just post the videos as well. If the student has a question he or she will just mail the teacher. Right?

Bogus (2)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year ago | (#44331985)

They should be happy about 20%+ pass rate, after all the cost of providing the teaching vehicle asymptotically approaches zero.

The Pass-Fail Rates are What They Should Be (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332115)

Real "online-learning" education programs are the computer-age equivalent to the old correspondence courses. They are both self-discipline dependent. For the need for self-discipline fewer complete and fewer complete successfully. It is normal.

Instead of dropping the program they should offer re-take at drastic discount rate, so students may learn from their failures. This is, after all, what the Bar does with its exams, which produce lawyers -- most of them after two or three goes at mastering the material.

Re:The Pass-Fail Rates are What They Should Be (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#44332969)

I'm not sure why you have a Score:0 on this post, but you're absolutely right.

Studies have continually shown that self-directed online learners technically fail the online courses regardless of their actual competence. Participation rates are in line with rates of participation (apathy) as other civic matters -- like voting, fundraising, volunteering at community events, and even searching for lost pets and persons.

Flipping the coin, does any grade mean the material was taught well or that students simply take tests terribly -- which is probably why they enrolled in this course in the first place because, otherwise, they would be taking more academically challenging courses than remedial math.

those percentages seem high (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332127)

I taught computer programming at a public university for over a decade. In second semester programming ( C++ or Java depending on the year ) about 20% of them never attended again after they found out I actually assigned and graded homework, another 20% of the students vanish before the mid-term, and yet another 20% by the time finals roll around. I had the reputation of being tough, but students that actually took the final had a class average around 86-87%, while the other 60% vanished ( dropped or failed, I didn't keep track ).

I realize that programming is a tougher topic than "college algebra" ( don't get me started on that ), but if 60% don't succeed in a normal environment, why would greater numbers do so in an online one? The only semester I had a substantial number of online students, the vanish rates were around 75%.

Not even a little surprising to me. (3, Interesting)

drdanny_orig (585847) | about a year ago | (#44332257)

40 years ago or so, I taught those same remedial classes to freshmen students at a large Midwestern land-grant 4-year university. The only reason my pass rate was higher than 44% was because I felt sorry for the kids. I was then, and am now still considered a good instructor. Most of those students had no business being in college in the first place, and I could tell that few if any would finish regardless of how I graded them. Remember, these are students who were unable to pass the basic requirements coming out of high school. Not representative of the population as a whole. I suspect the "online-edness" of these classes has very little to do with it.

Re:Not even a little surprising to me. (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year ago | (#44332995)

40 years ago or so, I taught those same remedial classes to freshmen students at a large Midwestern land-grant 4-year university. The only reason my pass rate was higher than 44% was because I felt sorry for the kids. I was then, and am now still considered a good instructor. Most of those students had no business being in college in the first place, and I could tell that few if any would finish regardless of how I graded them. Remember, these are students who were unable to pass the basic requirements coming out of high school. Not representative of the population as a whole.
I suspect the "online-edness" of these classes has very little to do with it.

Many colleges have lower scholastic requirements for minorities, particularly State Universities who are pressured to have certain admission rates to maintain their funding. Unfortunately this often results in these remedial classes being filled with students who never should have been accepted into the school to begin with. Not saying anything about any particular race or sex, but if you have lower admission standards for a particular group that usually translates to lower graduation rates for that group.

What's the Chance... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44332331)

I wonder; what's the probability that the class was just very poorly structured/taught?

I'm guessing it's non-zero; that might help explain the dismal pass rate.

Re:What's the Chance... (2)

FGT (2741971) | about a year ago | (#44334641)

I took the remedial math class (not for credit) and thought it was fine. Not a fluff class but not super difficult. I find Udacity classes to be more interactive and engaging than some other MOOCs. There was also plenty of help available in the forums if you need it. There may be some fine tuning of the course content that can be done but it doesn't seem to me that it was shoddy. Maybe they'll find that remedial students are not good candidates for completely online classes? Maybe some of them benefit more than other students from interaction with a teacher? Maybe a self discipline problem? How did all the people who took it voluntarily, free, not for credit do? Was there a difference and why? Compare it with students in the edX hybrid class experiment? Lots of questions to answer and I hope they interview the students, especially the unsuccessful ones, for their thoughts. I have heard depressing stats before about students struggling with remedial math and also low chances of completing a degree even once they get past such a class. Even so, if the Udacity class can't be adjusted to produce better results than traditional methods then it will have to be considered an experiment that didn't work.

Re:What's the Chance... (1)

FGT (2741971) | about a year ago | (#44334881)

I found the stats for remedial students I mentioned above. It was from a report on the CUNY system. Only 20% of remedially-placed students have advanced to a for-credit class 2 years later. Only 1 in 4 remedially-placed earn any degree after 6 years.

Audience mismatch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332625)

In my experience, success of online classes really depends on the students

- It's great for very smart, driven and organized students, for them it's a way to study more effectively, and save some money on old-fashioned classes and credits.
- But, average or below-average students need personal attention and guidance. Online will NOT help them. If you don't even know what questions to ask in a forum, or have so little background that you're embarrassed to ask, then you need to sit in a classroom and not alone in front of a computer.

They were not up front with all the information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333195)

I signed up for one of these classes to get some free college credit. About a week and a half in I was notified that I would need to pass a California standardized test or provide my high school transcripts in order to receive college credit for the class. This is a little hard to do considering I am 1200 miles from California and don't have a copy of my high school transcripts from 13 years ago. I never looked at the class again. I believe I was counted as one of those students who "failed" however this was due to skill level but lost interest since I wouldn't be getting credit for it anyways.

Valuable Revision Tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333231)

That's disappointing news. I'm a happy user of the College Algebra course and have benefited from the curriculum and the excellent teaching of the professors. In fact, having access to courses of this calibre has made me angry as it has shown how piss-poor the state high-school education I recieved; I'm in my 5th decade and it's taken me this long to have things like rational numbers explained to me. Because no-one pointed out that they are ratios, I was left wondering what made one number rational (envisaging some Spock-like digit) over an irrational number!

I may have to speed run through the rest of the course if work permits...

I hope the course doesn't stay offline for too long.

edX should go too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333353)

I'm a SJSU student who took the Harvard-run edX course for basic electrical engineering, and it was also terrible. Some highlights:

- Online homework and labs were an order of magnitude more difficult than the content in the lecture. EVERYBODY collaborated on these to get the answers, and we found a website where last semester's class did the same thing. They had the same complaints of having no idea how to proceed or what to do and we literally punching in random numbers until the question was answered correctly.

- Lots of bugs with the video lectures; missing annotations, videos stopped at the wrong time, etc. Dr. Agarwal is a great lecturer, but good lectures alone didn't make this program workable.

- edX website was hard to navigate, feedback on homework and quizzes was broken. For something that cost millions of dollars it felt like they designed it in a month.

- Anand Agarwal's EE book was our literature for the class. It is literally the worst book you can imagine. Many examples are based off earlier examples so you can' t jump into anything and have to keep referring to prior problems. They are all extremely difficult compared to the problems in the lecture. The writing is a stream of consciousness style with no structure so actual content is buried. It's surprising because his lecturing style is clear, but his writing most definitely is not.

Our instructor relied heavily on the online material and did very little teaching, which sucked because the online material was so poor. It in no way was adequate or paced in a way that would facilitate learning. We ended up looking at EE material from other colleges to fill in all the gaps.

I was under the impression he was getting a check from Harvard about promoting this, because he pushed edX hard despite it being terrible for the students. All he could talk about was international recognition, fame, and money, over and over.

What do they expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333945)

Quite honestly, it sounds to me like they dramatically lowered the barriers to entry. So far so good.

However you have to expect that in so doing, you're going to get a lot of people who aren't serious or aren't equipped to pass. Even people who, in the on-campus tradition, really only want to audit the course.

I'd expect pass rates to be lower. It's not necessarily a sign of failure. It might be a failure for other reasons. It might even be the case that the pass rates are simply too low to continue. Perhaps San Jose State University feels their reputation is being damaged. Perhaps they don't like the lower income stream. I just hope they didn't expect the same pass rates as in-person classes.

New medium, new message. (3, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#44333983)

I sign up for Coursera courses willy nilly. Then I let my schedule at the time the course starts dictate my participation; that along with the apparent quality of the course. So my completion/pass rate is abysmal. Most of the courses I withdraw from look awesome but through no fault of the course it is bye bye for me. Then there is the annoying situation where two awesome but time consuming courses start at the same time. So again through no fault of the course designers it is bye bye.

Now if I had paid good money and was going to attend a bricks and mortar school course with a very fixed schedule I would make sure to schedule around that.

So my guess is that this school was spooked by numbers that didn't match up with their existing medium of bums in seats. I also wonder if there are "metrics" that would then make this online course look like a complete dud. I could see a university looking at completion and withdrawal numbers to compare one professor to another. I suspect that the crappy professors just stand out statistically when compared to other professors. So this course may have statistically looked like a professor who would pee on the front row and throw feces at the student out of splashing distance all the while screaming that they can all pick up their F's at the end of class.

Why they wouldn't look at this as an experiment and let it ride for a while? Basically try it, tweak it, try it, tweak it.

The other thing that probably killed this course was how much it freaked out the non-researching teaching-only professors.

My experience with university is that many of the courses are glorified highschool courses with glorified highschool teachers. But then hidden here and there are researchers on the prowl for students who have a future at the graduate levels. More online courses will make the distinction that much clearer when the glorified highschool teachers are basically demoted to online TAs while the real researchers are given the recognition that they are something different; mentors and researchers.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>