During the hiatus, San Jose State and Udacity will develop introductory materials to help students better prepare for online college courses, the university stated. They will also explore the effect that incentives such as graded quizzes have on how quickly students move through a course.

The university cited broad differences in the courses’ demographics as one of the major challenges the project needs to address.

Twenty percent of the participants were not college students, but were students from a Title I high school. More than 60 percent of the participants were not enrolled in a degree program at San Jose State. Out of the matriculated San Jose State students taking the remedial math MOOC, every one of them had previously failed a remedial math class.

More than three-quarters of students enrolled in the MOOCs were balancing school work with jobs, the university said.

“We are eager to improve the student experience and build upon what we learn along the way,” the university said. “We remain committed about next steps and our ongoing collaboration to innovate online learning.”

Udacity and San Jose State are not alone in failing to successfully implement a for-credit MOOC. Despite more and more universities partnering with MOOC providers, and millions of dollars being invested in these companies, retention rates remain low, as does their ability to turn a profit.

Last fall, Colorado State University-Global Campus offered a for-credit MOOC for even cheaper than the San Jose State project. To date, no students have taken advantage of the deal.

At the time of SJSU+’s announcement, Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford Professor and Udacity’s CEO, cautioned that the project was just an experiment. Indeed, he said that if enough students did not successfully complete the courses, then they would have to rethink the concept.


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