MOOCs are dead


The News & Record‘s John Newsom opines: The founder of Udacity, one of the big players in the world of massive open online courses, told Fast Company magazine last month, “I’d aspired to give people a profound education — to teach them something substantial. But the data was at odds with this idea.” Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford professor turned MOOC mogul, noted one piece of data that’s the big fly in the MOOC ointment: Folks who start these classes usually don’t finish them. The MOOC completion rate is somewhere around 10 percent. The other data point is even worse news for Udacity. The company set up cheap for-credit online remedial math courses at San Jose (Calif.) State. Most students did finish the courses — but only about 25 percent of them passed. Ouch. So now Thrun is publicly rethinking the free-education-for-all model, and Udacity will focus more on vocational courses that they can charge money for. Thrun’s admission of — well, not failure exactly — brought out the MOOC-bashers.

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