AFT On Campus
MOOCs for the masses? Not so fast
Since massive open online courses burst on the scene two years ago, MOOCs have been heralded as a disruptive force for innovation in higher education that will magically solve the large policy challenges we face as a nation: How do we get more Americans to attend college and complete their studies? And how do we bring down the costs?
In California, where the two leading MOOC-based startups, Udacity and Coursera, were launched in 2012, a powerful Democrat in the state Legislature jumped onto the bandwagon earlier this year, introducing SB 520. This was a bill that would have forced the state’s 145 public colleges and universities to accept lower-division course credits from low-cost online college alternatives. It passed in the state Senate, but was put on hold when an experiment at San Jose State University, where Udacity was hired to provide remedial math courses, revealed how poorly served at-risk students are by massive online learning. Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun now says he sees that his courses can be “a lousy product.”
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