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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About the Author:

Jake New

Jake New studied journalism at Indiana University, where he was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student. At the IDS, Jake covered the IU administration, minority student issues, and state education policy. After a brief stint at the Bloomington Herald-Times covering IU, crime, and local politics, Jake interned at the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington D.C, writing about online learning, open-access policies, academic publishing, and ed-tech startups. Jake joined eCampus News as an assistant editor in May 2013, where he continues to cover technology and higher education. His days often begin with a cup of coffee and the sinking feeling that another MOOC story is just around the corner. Follow Jake via Twitter: @eSN_Jake


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