And the Schadenfreude continues:
A comprehensive study released today by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education looked at a million users of MOOCs—“venture capital’s massive, terrible idea” to democratize education—and found that roughly half the students who registered for one of those online courses ever saw a lecture. What’s more, only about 4 percent completed the course.
Today’s report about “very high attrition rates” follows San Jose State University’s decision to suspend a failed pilot program with Udacity in July. The Silicon Valley startup, which has raised $20 million, got a lot of publicity in January when the program to offer three low-cost intro courses for college credit launched with the blessing of Governor Jerry Brown. Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford artificial-intelligence professor and project lead at Google Glass, was “unhappy with the low completion rates in free MOOCs,” and hired online mentors, reports the New York Times. But Udacity students did worse than those who took the class on campus. In the algebra class, fewer than a quarter of students earned a passing grade.
MOOCs were sold to the public as a way to educate “students in poor countries with little access to higher education.” Nevermind the survey that showed that 80 percent of people who took the University of Pennsylvania MOOCs “had already earned a degree of some kind.”