San Jose State, Udacity ‘pausing’ for-credit MOOC partnership

Udacity’s CEO Sebastian Thrun announces a partnership between the MOOC platform and SJSU in January 2013. The project is now on hiatus.

San Jose State University’s president, Mo Qayoumi, said he hoped it would be “a game-changer.” California Governor Jerry Brown said it could be a “key part of the solution” to better student outcomes in the state.

But the key may not yet be the right fit.

San Jose State and massive open online course (MOOC) platform Udacity are “pausing” a much-touted partnership that granted college credit for MOOCs, throwing a potential wrench in the state of California’s online education plans.

The project, called SJSU+, allowed students to earn credit by taking certain Udacity MOOCs and paying $150 per course. It was seen as an important, and high-profile, step in an effort to lower the cost of higher education in California, where tuition has skyrocketed over the past decade.

A primary reason for putting the project on hold was the low number of students who were actually passing the courses, according to a statement released by the university. The completion rates for the courses were around 83 percent, which is far higher than most MOOCs. But the pass rates hovered between just 20 and 44 percent.

“While the pilot gave many students the opportunity they would not have otherwise had to earn college credit and move closer to their academic goals, we will be pausing enrollment in SJSU+ until the spring in order to work with SJSU on improving the student experience,” Udacity said in a statement. “In the meantime, SJSU MOOC courses will continue to remain available and we encourage students to avail themselves of this learning opportunity offered by SJSU.”

See Page 2 for how other universities and platforms are faring in the push to grant MOOC credit.

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