San José suspends Udacity experiment

On July 19 San José State announced it had suspended a highly touted collaboration with online provider Udacity to offer low-cost, for-credit online courses after finding that more than half of the students failed to pass the classes.

That announcement, first published in Insider Higher Education, quickly became the higher ed story of the summer as publication after publication examined what the Udacity failure meant to the future of online learning.

That same day, San Jose CFA chapter activists Kell Fujimoto and Liz Cara published an op/ed in the San Jose Mercury News criticizing campus President Mohammad Qayoumi for sounding more like a tech CEO than an educator, with his mantra that the CSU should “fail fast” with online courses. They wrote:

“Dealing with tough economic times by handing off education to private vendors and using public funds to increase online offerings through these vendors will not serve California well in the long run.”

The Los Angeles times also weighed in with a thoughtful editorial, writing:

“Even pilot programs must be carried out with more care. Online courses should be developed thoughtfully, from within the colleges, not as a result of top-down directives…It still takes well-educated people, interacting with those who need an education, to provide high-quality courses, whether that’s via the Internet or in a classroom.”