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San Jose State to offer groundbreaking low-cost online courses for credit

The courses—entry-level mathematics, elementary statistics, and college algebra—are often stumbling blocks for students seeking degrees.

San Jose State University, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, is also at the heart of a big American education experiment: low-cost online classes offered for credit.

If it works, high school and college students nationwide could have access to cheap entry-level or remedial college courses by this summer.

Offering for-credit courses at $150 each, a fraction of the cost of other university online courses, is a significant leap forward in the rapidly changing world of online college education.

“I hope this will be such a game-changer,” Mo Qayoumi, San Jose State’s president and one of the driving forces behind the partnership with Palo Alto-based Udacity, said at a news conference along with California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Udacity offers free online courses to anyone in the world with an internet connection—massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The difference here: granting students college credits.

The courses—entry-level mathematics, elementary statistics, and college algebra—are often stumbling blocks for students seeking degrees. Citing long waiting lists and high failure rates in remedial college courses, Brown said at the Jan. 15 press conference that the state’s public higher education systems must find a way to help people succeed and buoy its aging workforce.

(Next page: Details about the plan)

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