MOOCs for Credit – Udacity and SJSU Crack Open the Flood Gates
San Jose State University is tearing up the playbook lately. Last week they announced a project to use edX MOOC materials in flipped on-campus, for-credit classes. And today they’re a little closer to opening the flood gates to students around the world taking MOOCs for credit.
As of today, you can sign up for select Udacity MOOCs to run this summer, pay a $150 fee and earn credit at SJSU that is transferable within the California State University System. Space in the for-credit track is limited and enrollment closes May 24.
That’s a huge crack in the dam keeping students from earning degrees via MOOC platforms. Compared to an estimated $835 for a three-credit summer course for in-state residents at SJSU, $150 is arguably giving away the education for free and only charging for the expense of paperwork and proctoring the exam.
The courses being offered under this expansion of an existing pilot are College Algebra, Entry-level Math, Elementary Stats, Intro to Psych and Intro to Programming.
Anyone can take the classes for free like any other on Udacity. The students in this fee-based, for-credit track apparently get an enhanced MOOC experience with more interaction with teachers and tutors as well as accommodations for students with special needs. The final exam utilizes a service called ProctorU that checks in and monitors test-takers via their webcams.
Sebastian Thrun’s press release says that the pilot of this model in the current semester has an 85% retention rate at mid-terms and is having a big impact on the gateway course bottleneck problems that California is struggling with.
The message is a little fuzzier on how these credits will be seen outside California State University. The press release strongly implies the credits will be recognized by “most major U.S. universities,” but the F.A.Q. page is more circumspect.
It’s not all great news. The Entry-Level Math class is one of those shameful doesn’t-count-for-degree-requirement ripoffs that many state university systems still use, but at least students caught in that trap can minimize how much debt their racking up while they get out of it.
So, all you California high school seniors who are sending in your deposits this week, here’s your chance to avoid the problem of many of your intro math course being impossible to register for. You could conceivably show up to SJSU in the fall with that class out of the way and a semester ahead in credits.