SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi, edX President Anant Agarwal and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will speak at a news conference scheduled for 9:30 a.m. (PDT) April 10, when SJSU and edX will make a joint announcement detailing an expansion of courses offered to students at SJSU and other CSU campuses. The event will be held at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Rooms 225/229, 150 E. San Fernando St., San Jose. Credentials are required for all members of the media. Please R.S.V.P. with the reporters’ and photographers’ names by email. View the live stream and join the conversation. San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.
Posted by the New York Times March 5, 2013.
By Thomas L. Friedman
I just spent the last two days at a great conference convened by M.I.T. and Harvard on “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education” — a k a “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?”
You may think this MOOCs revolution is hyped, but my driver in Boston disagrees. You see, I was picked up at Logan Airport by my old friend Michael Sandel, who teaches the famous Socratic, 1,000-student “Justice” course at Harvard, which is launching March 12 as the first humanities offering on the M.I.T.-Harvard edX online learning platform. When he met me at the airport I saw he was wearing some very colorful sneakers.
“Where did you get those?” I asked. Well, Sandel explained, he had recently been in South Korea, where his Justice course has been translated into Korean and shown on national television. It has made him such a popular figure there that the Koreans asked him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a professional baseball game — and gave him the colored shoes to boot! Yes, a Harvard philosopher was asked to throw out the first pitch in Korea because so many fans enjoy the way he helps them think through big moral dilemmas.
Sandel had just lectured in Seoul in an outdoor amphitheater to 14,000 people, with audience participation. His online Justice lectures, with Chinese subtitles, have already had more than 20 million views on Chinese Web sites, which prompted The China Daily to note that “Sandel has the kind of popularity in China usually reserved for Hollywood movie stars and N.B.A. players.”
O.K., not every professor will develop a global following, but the MOOCs revolution, which will go through many growing pains, is here and is real. These were my key take-aways from the conference:
- Institutions of higher learning must move, as the historian Walter Russell Mead puts it, from a model of “time served” to a model of “stuff learned.” Because increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for, what you can do with what you know. And therefore it will not pay for a C+ in chemistry, just because your state college considers that a passing grade and was willing to give you a diploma that says so. We’re moving to a more competency-based world where there will be less interest in how you acquired the competency — in an online course, at a four-year-college or in a company-administered class — and more demand to prove that you mastered the competency.
- Therefore, we have to get beyond the current system of information and delivery — the professorial “sage on the stage” and students taking notes, followed by a superficial assessment, to one in which students are asked and empowered to master more basic material online at their own pace, and the classroom becomes a place where the application of that knowledge can be honed through lab experiments and discussions with the professor. There seemed to be a strong consensus that this “blended model” combining online lectures with a teacher-led classroom experience was the ideal. Last fall, San Jose State used the online lectures and interactive exercises of M.I.T.’s introductory online Circuits and Electronics course. Students would watch the M.I.T. lectures and do the exercises at home, and then come to class, where the first 15 minutes were reserved for questions and answers with the San Jose State professor, and the last 45 were devoted to problem solving and discussion. Preliminary numbers indicate that those passing the class went from nearly 60 percent to about 90 percent. And since this course was the first step to a degree in science and technology, it meant that many more students potentially moved on toward a degree and career in that field.
- We demand that plumbers and kindergarten teachers be certified to do what they do, but there is no requirement that college professors know how to teach. No more. The world of MOOCs is creating a competition that will force every professor to improve his or her pedagogy or face an online competitor.
- Bottom line: There is still huge value in the residential college experience and the teacher-student and student-student interactions it facilitates. But to thrive, universities will have to nurture even more of those unique experiences while blending in technology to improve education outcomes in measurable ways at lower costs. We still need more research on what works, but standing still is not an option.
Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor and expert on disruptive innovation, gave a compelling talk about how much today’s traditional university has in common with General Motors of the 1960s, just before Toyota used a technology breakthrough to come from nowhere and topple G.M. Christensen noted that Harvard Business School doesn’t teach entry-level accounting anymore, because there is a professor out at Brigham Young University whose online accounting course “is just so good” that Harvard students use that instead. When outstanding becomes so easily available, average is over.
Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Feb. 24, 2013.
By Katy Murphy
As politicians and academics debate the future of higher education, it is already happening — in dorm rooms, off-campus apartments and living rooms around the world.
Estela Garcia, a working mother from Menlo Park, attends class at her kitchen table after she puts her daughters to bed; Tim Barham, a UC Berkeley senior, takes statistics at home after a day at work; and Oakland teenager Sergio Sandoval studies a college course while in high school.
For years, online classes existed on the margins of higher education. Then Silicon Valley startups devised slick platforms delivering elite university courses, free, to students everywhere. Suddenly, online studies have become central to discussions about the future.
“I think this is the single most transformational thing that could occur in higher education in decades,” said Ron Galatolo, chancellor of the San Mateo County Community College District.
Proponents see online courses containing university costs, making college more affordable and instruction more engaging, raising completion rates, enrolling more students, graduating them faster, easing crowding and better preparing high-schoolers for college.
No one knows how effectively this experimental wonder drug can deliver a college education to the masses, though. Can virtual professors lecturing across the globe really be sure their students grasp everything from Camus to chemistry?
UC, CSU on board
The latest e-learning experiment of open access, with its explosive potential, has top universities and more than 3 million students jumping aboard. Less than a year old, the online education startup Coursera announced last week it would soon offer more than 300 courses from 62 universities around the world.
Most of these massive open online courses — MOOCs in campus lingo — have been offered with only a certificate of completion, no credit. That could soon change. This month, the American Council on Education recommended credit for four Coursera undergraduate math and science courses from Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania and UC Irvine.
With the urging of Gov. Jerry Brown, California’s universities are rolling out similar initiatives with renewed gusto.
At the University of California, whose campuses offer more than 2,500 online classes, leaders recently floated the idea of undergraduates taking 10 percent of their courses online. The system’s outgoing president, Mark Yudof, said students everywhere should be able to use credits from online courses “from UC’s own distinguished faculty” to transfer to a UC campus.
California State University is a few steps ahead in the credit department: As soon as this summer, San Jose State and Udacity, a Mountain View-based company, could open for-credit math classes to all takers, at $150 each. Some 300 high school, community college and university students are in a pilot program to test the classes.
As in other courses offered by the leading startups, professors create the content, giving it the university brand, and technologists package it. Most of the grading is automated.
Galatolo is also interested in seeing whether the company would design an online diagnostic test and personalized refresher course for the state’s incoming college students. That would keep tens of thousands of Californians from failing college placement tests and languishing in remedial classes, he said.
“I want students who come to us ready to go right into college,” he said.
For students like Sergio Sandoval, online college courses provide a chance to get ahead. The high school junior from East Oakland would be the first in his family to attend a U.S. college — one of the kinds of students for whom the San Jose State pilot course is designed.
With access to cheap, for-credit courses, the thinking goes, the fate of bright young students like Sandoval won’t depend on what their high schools offer. Anyone with a high-speed Internet connection can take a shot at college work.
After a full day at the Oakland Military Institute, a charter school he travels across the city to attend, Sandoval returns home, has dinner and delves into an online statistics class, watching the videos and doing the exercises at his dining room table.
“Even if the credits don’t transfer, it’s still something you can put on your application — that you’ve taken your high school classes as well as the online classes, so you’re even more prepared for that college,” he said.
Even before the rise of free, open courses, online education was becoming more common. The number of college students enrolled in an online course rose by nearly 5 million from 2002 to 2011.
But the prospect of for-credit college courses on a mass scale has raised a new set of questions: How well can students learn without interacting with instructors? How much money will universities save, and will they charge students less for cheaper courses? How will complex assignments be graded? Will robots replace professors?
Some experts say the rapid proliferation of online courses is bound to yield some inferior products. Cynics recently pounced on an ironic embarrassment for Coursera: Technical problems forced it to suspend its course on the fundamentals of online education.
“That’s what I worry about, the quality controls,” said Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy.
A sobering statistic undercuts the hype: Just 10 percent of those who sign up for classes with the leading startups actually finish them. With that in mind, Udacity assigned mentors for students in its San Jose State test project. They will nudge students who seem to be falling behind.
As other students noted, Sandoval said a self-paced course takes more discipline than in-person classes. “Here, there is no teacher whatsoever telling me we need it done,” he said. “It’s all on you.”
Garcia and a former classmate, Kelsey Harrison, described similar pressures. Still, because of the relatively small size of the class, it was easy for them to reach their College of San Mateo instructors when they needed help. That kind of communication between students and faculty is impossible in a course with thousands of students. Those courses rely on virtual study groups and crowd-sourcing — seeking answers from the whole universe of students.
New teaching style
A well-developed online class might reach struggling students better than a traditional one, said Ronald Rogers, the San Jose State professor who developed Udacity’s statistics course. Rogers said when he stands in a lecture hall and asks if anyone has a question, nary a hand goes up. The new platform inserts short exercises and quizzes into the lecture, prompting instant student feedback.
“Imagine being in a class where if every minute and a half, the teacher shut up and asked if you got it,” he said.
Still, Rogers doesn’t know if his instincts are right. “The first thing all of us want to know is, ‘Does it work?'” he said. “We want to know: Did they feel like they were just out there alone, or did they feel more connected?”
The San Jose State-Udacity project is undergoing an independent review to find out. Researchers will also explore which students are most likely to succeed — or not. It’s an important question if universities want to give poor or nontraditional students a leg up.
Gov. Brown has argued that large, online courses could help make California’s colleges and universities more efficient. But forecasting profits or savings is a risky business, as UC has learned. Before startup companies began offering classes for free, ï»¿the university decided to sell them to the public for credit — for up to $2,100 per course.
Since last year’s launch, five nonstudents have enrolled.
The online option can make college more affordable for students, however. Barham said it helped him transfer from a community college to UC Berkeley a year earlier than he otherwise would have, given his work schedule. Now at Cal, the legal studies major said taking statistics online has saved him more time and money.
Otherwise, he said, “I would have had to graduate later or cut down on work hours, which I can’t afford to do.”
But when it comes to the UC system’s budget challenges, he said, educators should keep their online hopes in check. “I don’t think online education is the savior of the UC system or anything like that.”
Posted by the Silicon Valley Business Journal Feb. 8, 2013.
By Lauren Helper
Every Tuesday evening at Stanford University, a few dozen MBA candidates, software engineers and aspiring teachers huddle to assess the future of education.
Classic navel-gazing academia, right?
The group is at the center of a movement that aims to blow up the higher education industry, making it less expensive and more widely available. In the process, some — or many — in the growing field are liable to become very, very wealthy.
“It’s the beginning of Silicon Valley re-imagining higher education,” said Mitchell Stevens, 46, a co-instructor of the course who has built his academic career studying universities. “A lot of people are going to make a lot of money.”
In the last two years, Stanford has spun out three major online education companies — Coursera, Udacity and as of last month, NovoEd. The startups have lured tens of millions of dollars in venture capital and are now experimenting with ways to make money.
Those and other business models being discussed in Stevens’ Tuesday night course, “Education’s Digital Future,” hold promise to cut the skyrocketing costs of higher education. They will also fundamentally alter the market for mid-range universities and for-profit schools like University of Phoenix, which pioneered Web education.
As a result, it looks virtually certain that education will join the list of industries — think travel, music and books — that Silicon Valley has turned upside down.
“There’s going to be a lot of denial,” Stevens said of the incumbent education providers.
Online education isn’t new. Since 2000, the field has been dominated by for-profit online schools like the University of Phoenix, which were backed largely by private equity.
During the first quarter of 2012, the for-profit school’s parent company, Apollo Group Inc., brought in $1.06 billion in revenue, illustrating the size of the potential market for Silicon Valley education startups.
“The most interesting stuff in higher ed in the last decade — none of it originated here in Silicon Valley,” said Clint Korver, an education technology investor and co-founder of venture capital firm ULU Ventures. “A lot of people like to kind of look down their nose at University of Phoenix. They’re the largest university on the planet.”
Rob Wrubel, chief innovation officer for the Apollo Group, said the company has a 1,000-person tech operation nationwide, including more than 300 engineers, data server managers and product designers in the Bay Area.
University of Phoenix is betting that regionally accredited degrees, augmented by new efforts to increase online social interaction and mobile accessibility for students, will keep their program competitive for working adults.
Despite for-profit universities’ financial success, there is reason to believe the model will be one of many challenged by the growing field of online education providers being spawned by academic leaders like Stanford.
“The real innovation . . . is not the technology, but the fact that Stanford is validating that online education is actually an OK thing,” Korver said. “The really scary prospect for a lot of second and third-tier schools is what if everybody can get into Stanford?”
Another threat to existing schools posed by online education startups has to do with the cost of traditional education. Student loan debt has now surpassed $1 trillion, according to a July 2012 Department of Education report. The result is a bubble that some say could pop with dire consequences for the economy.
Couple student debt with budget cuts at public schools, throw in a growing need at corporations for highly educated workers, and you get an expanding market for affordable, high-quality online education services.
New video streaming technology, growing global Internet access and online platforms with the scale to handle hundreds of thousands of active users at once are bringing elite education to the masses.
New target market
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, competitors like Harvard and MIT, and investors are taking a different tack than many online educators: Going directly to individual students worldwide.
Enter Coursera, an online platform developed by Stanford computer science professor Andrew Ng. In Coursera, Ng, now 36, developed a product with the scale to bring Stanford video lectures and assignments to the global masses for free.
It was the beginning of the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, phenomenon now widely used by elite universities. Investors soon took note.
Sandell, 48, had previously invested in a company run by Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller’s husband, and was briefed on the business model over lunch with the couple in October 2011.
Sandell said he previously shied away from education technology investments, but NEA and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers invested $22 million in a series A funding round for Coursera in 2012.
“I always thought it was a really difficult place to invest, because up until now most of the things I had seen were dependent on selling to schools,” he said. “Now, you can charge a small fraction for something of value to (students) and at the same time literally serve millions more.”
Coursera now offers 215 courses and has 2.5 million users worldwide, Ng said.
Questions remain about how all of that activity can be turned into cash flow, given the company’s stated goal of lowering financial barriers to higher education.
The company in January started charging $30–$100 to verify student identity and it has revenue-sharing agreements with partner universities. One early revenue channel is a partnership with Amazon, where the company gets a small payment for recommending textbooks or other products. Course-licensing or subscription fees are also potential sources of revenue, though Coursera has yet to implement either.
Another online education startup, Udacity, just inked a major deal with San Jose State University. Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun, 45, previously a Stanford computer science professor and VP at Google, first experimented with MOOCs when he taught a free, online Stanford artificial intelligence course that attracted 160,000 students in 2011.
The next year, Udacity struck out on its own and attracted more than $21 million in venture capital. This January, the company scored a deal to provide remedial classes for students preparing to enroll at San Jose State University at a price of $150 per three-unit course. Currently, San Jose State charges $280 per unit or more.
Udacity, which has hired more than two dozen employees, is pursuing two business models: entry-level college preparations and corporate work force development.
“You make money in both,” Thrun says, explaining that in addition to the SJSU deal, Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Nvidia Corp. are sponsoring courses in the coming months to educate would-be tech talent. The sponsorships cover some course development costs for the company.
Big data is another potential source of revenue for Udacity and other online educators. Two possible plays: Headhunters paying online education companies a premium for referrals to the most promising alums, and personalized analytics matching students with courses and professors based on personal preferences.
Thrun says his company’s competitive advantage vis-à-vis traditional education is fundamental: Udacity cuts through academic bureaucracy to deliver faster, more efficient education.
“There’s a fundamental mismatch between the speed at which technology emerges and the speed at which universities can really go and staff classes,” Thrun said. “We’ve gotten a very strong calling from industry to step in and exhibit leadership.”
Stanford management science and engineering professor Amin Saberi is also answering that call with his new company, NovoEd Inc.
It took Saberi four weekends during 2012 to build the foundations of a platform for online courses, then called Venture Lab, that introduces students to abstract topics like entrepreneurship. NovoEd uses algorithms to break students into teams, encouraging peer reviewing and collaboration.
“In real life, students go into groups and work on a business model and present,” Saberi, 33, explained at a recent meet-and-greet with students in the “Education’s Digital Future” course. Education investor Korver was also at the talk, as were representatives from Stanford, Coursera and local nonprofits.
“I thought, ‘Let’s see if we can do something similar online,’” Saberi said.
Now on a leave of absence from the university, he and co-founder Farnaz Ronaghi, a Stanford researcher, spun the company out from Stanford in January. They are staffing up, negotiating partnerships with other universities and recently closed on their first round of funding, though how much NovoEd raised is not yet public.
“I had to make a decision whether to give this up, to continue it as a Stanford project or to continue as a separate entity,” Saberi said.
He opted for the third approach to better position NovoEd to secure partnerships with universities other than Stanford, strike deals more quickly and attract outside talent.
The company is distinguished from competitors by what Korver calls a “social and interactive pedagogy,” bringing elements of social media into online education.
Saberi is quiet for now on how his technology will generate revenue but says he’s being approached by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and other universities for partnerships and new course offerings.
Despite the room for growth, Thrun, Saberi and Ng all stress what they say is really the central element of their companies: a social mission of expanding access to education, which dovetails with increased market demand.
“Education should be a basic human right,” Thrun said. “We should re-democratize it to everybody. I’m super excited. It seems to be actually happening.”
By Jim Sanders
Gov. Jerry Brown and California university officials say it’s inevitable.
Targeting a tech-savvy generation, they are paving the way for more students to pass courses and obtain degrees without ever going to class.
“There’s not a luxury of sitting in the present trajectory, unless you don’t mind paying ever-increasing tuition,” Brown told the University of California Board of Regents last month.
Distance learning has been around for decades, typically as a means of offering extension and enrichment courses, but the new wave goes far beyond recorded classroom lectures. Online courses can incorporate face-to-face interaction via Skype, as well as chat rooms, blogs, discussion forums, electronic tutoring, instructional games and push-button audio or video.
Students can use online classes to tackle studies at any hour, from any location. Colleges can use them to unclog bottlenecks that keep students from obtaining vital courses they need to earn degrees on a timely basis.
But the landscape is dotted with obstacles, including course development costs and concerns about academic rigor, faculty acceptance and adequate student assistance.
Teacher representatives at all three levels of California colleges and universities say they do not necessarily oppose online instruction. If it must be done, they say, care should be taken to maintain faculty control over content, preserve teaching jobs and ensure that students have an adequate opportunity to obtain individual assistance.
“All of it is worth experimenting with. Nobody opposes it. We don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Lillian Taiz, a professor and president of the California Faculty Association, which represents California State University faculty. “But I think we have to be realistic about what we’re doing, and at the very least, we have to do no harm.”
Behind the scenes, online education is a massive industry, with private firms offering a range of high-tech products, from computer software to flashcards and safeguards against student cheating.
“I’ve seen people where you can see the dollar signs in their eyes – they just want to write a program and have you write a check and think they’ve solved the problem,” said Joan Buchanan, chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee. “We have tremendous potential with all of this. We just need to make sure that we maintain the integrity of the system.”
Cautiously, California colleges have been increasing the number of credit-bearing courses that are presented entirely or partially online.
Nearly one in four California community college students is expected to take at least one online course this year. Almost half the state’s 112 community colleges offer degrees and certificates that can be obtained without ever attending a campus class. Even so, enrollment bottlenecks at community colleges meant nearly a half-million students were on course waiting lists last year.
CSU and UC also are making strides.
San Jose State University launched an online project last month in which it is teaming with a Silicon Valley startup, Udacity, to offer two math courses and one statistics course to 100 students apiece. College credit will be given, with enrollment open not only to San Jose State students but also to veterans, military personnel and high school and community college students.
CSU started a systemwide program last month, California State Online, providing opportunities to complete course work for a handful of degrees to students who have acquired some CSU units but are having difficulty attending class.
UC is launching a systemwide effort, UC Online Education, to create lower division, high-demand classes. Separately, the 10 campuses offer about 170 online courses for undergraduate credit and 80 for graduate credit. Three campuses offered an online master’s degree program in 2011-12.
To accelerate the push, Brown wants to make a nearly $37 million investment.His proposed state budget includes $16.9 million for community colleges and $10 million apiece for the UC and CSU systems to expand online options for hundreds of high-demand, prerequisite courses that fill up quickly.
At a UC regents meeting in January, system President Mark Yudof endorsed the effort.
“I just don’t see how it’s possible to expand access to the University of California under current economic circumstances, and future ones, with a brick-and-mortar environment,” he said. “I just don’t see it getting done.”
How well online education works is still under study.
A U.S. Department of Education analysis in 2009 of dozens of online education studies concluded that students who complete such classes learn more, on average, than those taking classroom courses, perhaps because they can repeat lectures and exercises as often as needed.
Reviewing the same online studies, however, the Community College Research Center cautioned that participating students tended to be prepared for college, so the findings might not apply equally to under-prepared students.
In California, community college students who take courses online are less likely to complete them than their peers in traditional classrooms, recording success rates of 57 percent vs. 67 percent respectively, in 2009-10.
Jonathan Stein, UC student regent, warned against assuming that students will embrace online classes simply because they enjoy laptops.
“No one has asked students if they’re interested in this,” he said. “No one has asked students if they want this.”
Andrew Campbell, 20, of Modesto Junior College, said his mother used online courses to go back to college for a master’s degree. But Campbell prefers campus classes – he struggled with several online courses and dropped one, he said.
“You can try to communicate with instructors over email, but they have 500 students or something like that, so it’s difficult to get in touch,” Campbell said.
Victoria Chernyetsky, 21, a law firm employee who attends CSU Sacramento, said she has taken several online courses – recently Human Resources 101, which “I absolutely had to take and the only class available was online.”
“For people like me who are working, it’s an amazing thing to be able to do everything on our own,” she said. But “online you don’t get a professor explaining things to you; you just kind of have to figure it out on your own.”
How to make the grade
The history of online education is littered with failures as well as successes: the University of Illinois and Columbia University,for example, launched aggressive online education programs years ago that folded because of stiff competition from the private sector, weak enrollment and economic woes.Teachers are particularly wary of a new front in distance learning: Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are taught by private firms such as Udacity that enroll thousands of students in a single class, often free, though typically without major college credits or significant individual help.
Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford University researcher and one of Udacity’s founders, demonstrated the potential of MOOCs to reach vast audiences in 2011, when he and Peter Norvig, Google’s director of research, offered a free introductory course in artificial intelligence. More than 160,000 people worldwide registered.
Brown’s proposed $37 million investment in online instruction is not meant to create new partnerships between colleges and MOOC firms.
But joint efforts are being tested. The San Jose State pilot program with Udacity explores a possible marriage in which the college controls course content, student testing, and awarding of transferable credits, while Udacity provides computer expertise, coordination, and help in fine-tuning presentation.
UC Irvine is trying a different model with a different MOOC firm, Coursera. Six of the university’s courses are offered free or at low cost online – two for college credit – to students worldwide.
Dean Murakami, an American River College instructor and vice president of the California Federation of Teachers, which represents community college instructors, said faculty would have serious concerns if the future leads to massive online classes by public colleges.
“There’s no way that you could have the kind of interaction that we think is necessary,” he said.
Though maximum class sizes are sure to spark debate, online education offers advantages for many.
For rural residents, full-time workers, people with disabilities and others who find it difficult to travel to campuses, online courses create a push-button alternative.
Elisa Allechant, 36, said taking an online class each semester at CSU Sacramento has provided flexibility she needs in parenting a 7-year-old girl. “It’s difficult to be in school and match it up with my child,” she said.
Michelle Pacansky-Brock, an online instructor for Riverside County’s Mt. San Jacinto Community College, said that distance learning also can be “incredibly dynamic.” Rather than write an essay, for example, students can use a cellphone to shoot videos or interview people worldwide.
Pacansky-Brock recalls a dyslexic student in an art class who struggled to express her feelings in writing but blossomed when interpreting art through audio comments she submitted.
“I remember sitting there listening to her comment and my eyes welled up with tears,” Pacansky-Brock said.
Michele Foss-Snowden, who has taught a CSUS public speaking course with online curriculum, said teacher preparation and creativity make a big difference in quality.
She supports Brown’s push only if careful thought is given to how curriculum is presented: “If throwing money at it will result in better, not just more, then I’m all for it.”
Posted by CNet Jan. 29, 2013.
By Sumi Das
So you’ve graduated from high school and been accepted at a four-year college. But when you arrive on campus you find out that you can’t pass college entry-level courses, so it’s back to remedial classes. That’s the fate of half of all freshman at San Jose State University, according to Provost Ellen Junn. Add to those woes decreases in funding for higher education across California, higher tuition fees, and greater competition for college admission.
Those are just some of the reasons the university has partnered with Silicon Valley startup Udacity to offer San Jose State Plus, online courses for academic credit. These types of classes are called MOOCs (massive open online courses), and San Jose State administrators say this new program marks the first time a MOOC is being offered purely online for credit.
Udacity began offering MOOCs in early 2012. Wondering how massive a “massive” open online course is? Udacity currently has 250,000 people enrolled in one of its computer science offerings.
When students sign up for an Udacity MOOC, they watch short interactive videos online and take quizzes to make sure they’ve grasped the material before the next concept is introduced. “There’s actually no lecturing in what we do, or very minimal lecturing,” said Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun. “It’s really all about student exercise. You learn by making your brain go crazy. You don’t learn by just listening.” In other words, no more dozing off during class.
To start, San Jose State Plus is offering three classes: entry-level math, college algebra, and elementary statistics. These are classes that are often over-enrolled and create bottlenecks because students must pass them to graduate. The courses are limited to veterans and students in high school at community colleges or at San Jose State. The fee for each class is $150.
That’s another benefit of MOOCs — the cost per student is extremely low. San Jose State professor Ron Rogers, co-instructor for the elementary statistics class, said that the cost of the textbook alone for the same class on campus is $150. The MOOC version of the class requires no textbook.
Students who’ve enrolled in MOOCs say they like being able to set their own pace for the courses, without concern for the rest of the class. They can move ahead when they’re ready and replay videos when the lesson isn’t quite sinking in.
This isn’t to say that MOOCs are flawless. Dropout rates are high. When a course is offered for free, it’s easy to sign up on a whim. When Udacity launched, I signed up for Computer Science 101 only to find myself canceling dentist appointments and skipping gym workouts to try to hand in homework assignments on time. I made it halfway through the eight-week course before I gave in and dropped out. Not a proud moment, but it was either that or poor dental hygiene. To help, San Jose State Plus is adding mentors to the program. Their job? To prod, push, encourage, and provide help for students as needed.
San Jose State Plus came together in record time. It began with a phone call back in June when Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown rang up Thrun and said that California was in a crisis and the state needed his help. Skip ahead seven months, and January 30 marks the debut of the first San Jose State-branded MOOCs.
Thrun isn’t done yet, though. He loves the idea of MOOCs helping students get a four-year degree in four years (instead of the average six years currently needed by many) and helping them save tuition fees along the way. But he also has his eye on some other under-served students: “We want to help lots of high school students. We want to level the playing field and even allow inner city students or disadvantaged students to go out into college with as much credit as they can and be as successful as they can be.”
Published by the The New York Times Jan. 15, 2013.
Correction: January 15, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a California university faculty group. It is the California Faculty Association, not the California Teachers Association. The article also misstated the nature of the courses that San Jose State University will offer with Udacity. The courses will involve students watching videos and taking interactive quizzes; they will not be blended courses with students first watching videos on their own, and then coming to class to work on assignments with a professor.
By TAMAR LEWIN and JOHN MARKOFF
A plan to offer an array of online college classes at a California state university could, if the students are successful, open the door to teaching hundreds of thousands of California students at a lower cost via the Internet.
Udacity, a Silicon Valley start-up that creates online college classes, will announce a deal on Tuesday with San Jose State University for a series of remedial and introductory courses.
Because the courses are intended to involve the classroom instructor, it could also help to blunt professors’ unease with the online classes.
The state university’s deal with Udacity is also the first time that professors at a university have collaborated with a provider of a MOOC — massive open online course — to create for-credit courses with students watching videos and taking interactive quizzes, and receiving support from online mentors.
Eventually, such courses could be offered to hundreds of thousands of students in the state.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been pushing state universities to move more aggressively into online education, approached the company to come up with a technological solution for what has become a vexing challenge for the state.
Ellen N. Junn, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the university in San Jose, said the California State University System faces a crisis because more than 50 percent of entering students cannot meet basic requirements.
“They graduate from high school, but they cannot pass our elementary math and English placement tests,” she said.
The Udacity pilot program will include a remedial algebra course, a college-level algebra course and introductory statistics.
For the pilot project starting this month, however, the courses will be limited to 300 students — half from San Jose State University, and half from local community colleges and high schools — who will pay lower than usual tuition. The cost of each three-unit course will be $150, significantly less than regular San Jose State tuition. Sebastian Thrun, one of the founders of Udacity, would not disclose how much the company would be paid for its participation.
San Jose State will receive funds from the National Science Foundation to study the effectiveness of the new online classroom design.
Open online courses exploded in American higher education in 2011 after Mr. Thrun, a nationally known artificial-intelligence researcher at Stanford, and Peter Norvig, Google’s director of research, offered to teach an introductory artificial-intelligence course online. More than 160,000 students initially registered for the class.
After two other Stanford courses each attracted more than 100,000 students, Dr. Thrun started his venture. Two other Stanford computer scientists, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, also established a competing private company, Coursera, to develop technologies necessary to change the reach and effectiveness of online education.
The courses have rapidly moved from the periphery to the center of higher education policy as a growing number of schools have begun experimenting with ways to offer the courses for credit toward a degree.
EdX, a university collaboration initiated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard last year, this month will begin offering some of its courses at two Massachusetts community colleges, in a blended format.
Recently edX completed a pilot offering of its difficult circuits and electronics course at San Jose State to stunning results: while 40 percent of the students in the traditional version of the class got a grade of C or lower, only 9 percent in the blended edX class got such a low grade.
Last fall, for the first time, Udacity’s courses were tried on a small group of struggling high school students, at the Winfree Academy Charter School system, a cluster of schools near Dallas-Fort Worth created to help struggling students and reclaim dropouts.
“I was a little scared to put our kids, who are struggling and at risk of dropping out, into a class written by a Stanford professor,” said Melody Chalkley, Winfree’s founder. “But of the 23 students who used Udacity, one withdrew from the school, and the other 22 all finished successfully. And two young women got through the whole physics course in just two weeks.”
Until now such courses have been seen as a threat to professors’ jobs. The San Jose chapter of the California Faculty Association has not yet taken any formal position on the Udacity pilot. Many members were not aware of it, and some of those who did know of the plan said they had learned of it only informally.
“My personal opinion is that it’s not by accident that this is being announced at a time when most faculty are not on campus, but I have no evidence for that,” said Preston Rudy, a sociology professor at San Jose State who serves as vice president of the chapter. “I don’t know enough about Udacity to take any position, but over all, I know the university is concerned about who will teach courses if they go online, who has control, and whether they will be university employees.”
The Udacity deal could blunt some faculty opposition, because the effort will continue to involve professors — but it will also use online course assistants, or “mentors,” hired and trained by Udacity.
The program is an attempt to overcome the biggest failure of open online courses today — their 90 percent dropout rate.
Despite high enrollments, about half the students who sign up for such courses, whether at Udacity or other providers, fall away at the beginning, never even looking at the first assignment. Many of them are browsers without real commitment to the classes. But others, Mr. Thrun said, just need more support.
“I am personally troubled by the 90 percent dropout rate,” Mr. Thrun said. “The students signing up are highly motivated — and MOOCs will only succeed if they make normally motivated students successful.”
In the San Jose pilot, Udacity will have staff mentors monitoring the courses and offering a range of student support services that could include regular check-ins with a mentor, or automated e-mails providing encouragement and help for students stuck on a problem.
Dr. Thrun said that the new approach being pursued by Udacity came in response to a phone call from Mr. Brown. “For me this started cold turkey with a call from the California governor who said, ‘Hey Sebastian, we have a crisis in the state.’ ”
A San Jose State professor who was one of the designers of the new statistics course said that he was hopeful that the new approach would have an impact.
“One of the challenges of these massive courses as an instructor is how do you maintain contact with your students. It’s just impossible,” said Ronald F. Rogers, chairman of the psychology department at San Jose State.
He said the new course model that Udacity has designed would be a significant test of a new approach to online education and a refinement of the open course idea: “It’s an empirical question. I think in some ways it is a test tube and we’re going to see if it can scale.”
Posted by The Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 15, 2013.
By Jeffrey R. Young
State universities in California, looking for creative ways to reduce education costs at a time of budget stress, are turning to MOOCs to offer low-cost options for students.
On Tuesday, San Jose State University announced an unusual pilot project with Udacity, a for-profit provider of the massive open online courses, to jointly create three introductory mathematics classes. The courses will be free online, but students who want credit from San Jose State will be able to take them for just $150, far less than the $450 to $750 that students would typically pay for a credit-bearing course.
If the project continues beyond the pilot, the university will keep 51 percent of any revenue after costs are covered and Udacity will keep 49 percent, said Mohammad Qayoumi, president of the university, in an interview on Monday.
The University of California system may eventually decide to work with MOOC providers as well: Leaders of Udacity and Coursera, another for-profit MOOC company, are scheduled to appear before the university’s Board of Regents on Wednesday.
The California State University project began when the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, e-mailed Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Udacity, to say “We need your help,” recounted Mr. Thrun during a news conference on Tuesday.
The governor, a Democrat, said at the news conference that student debt is a “huge problem” and that “online is a part of that solution.”
For Udacity, a key goal of the experiment will be making sure a critical mass of students completes the courses. Free online courses have enjoyed huge enrollments but have frequently reported dropout rates of about 90 percent, since many students sign up out of curiosity but do not complete many assignments. To deal with that concern, Mr. Thrun said his company would hire mentors to check up on students enrolled in the courses for credit and to be available to answer their questions.
The mentors will most likely be student workers, said Ellen Junn, San Jose State’s provost, in an interview on Monday. “They’re not instructors, they’re not TAs, but they will be there to provide additional support and tracking to students,” she said. “They do not provide any instruction. They are there for social support and mentoring support.”
Faculty Intellectual Property
Courses in the pilot project are aimed at high-school students and students enrolled at community colleges in the state.
Mr. Thrun pointed out that in large university classes, the amount of contact each student has with professors is quite small, and that he is interested in finding low-cost ways to give students in MOOCs some help, such as a phone hotline or a system of mentors. “If it really works,” he said, “then we might actually be able to help a whole bunch of students become college-ready.”
Professors at San Jose State will each be paid $15,000 to develop the pilot courses, said President Qayoumi during the news conference on Tuesday. Faculty members will retain the intellectual-property rights to the course materials, said Ms. Junn.
As the number of MOOC experiments has grown, some professors across the country have expressed concern about the role companies are playing in their development.
David Parry, an assistant professor of emerging media at the University of Texas at Dallas, said that efforts to increase access to education are laudable, but he wishes that fewer experiments were being led by for-profit companies.
“It almost treats students like they’re industrial products, like ‘How many widgets can we get through those programs?'” he said. “States are defunding education, but leaders are saying, How can we still meet our obligations and check the box of providing education?”
San Jose State is also working on another MOOC pilot with a nonprofit provider, edX, which is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Jan. 16, 2013.
The online education program San Jose State University announced Tuesday, with the help of Gov. Jerry Brown, is small — just three classes of 100 students each. But it is a big step toward a new future for higher education that Brown introduced in last week’s budget proposal.
California’s three-legged system of higher education — community colleges, the California State University and University of California systems — has been a primary driver of the Golden State’s economic engine. But it has been slow to adapt to new realities. Costs are rising unsustainably; tuition has nearly doubled at CSU and UC since 2007. Just 16 percent of CSU students finish a degree within four years. And there is a troubling mismatch between the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and the number of jobs in those fields that companies will need to fill.
Part of the problem is declining state support. The UC and CSU budgets were cut $1.6 billion, inflation adjusted, in the past decade. Although Brown wants to restore some of that, taxpayer funding will not return to its former levels.
A major transformation is needed to lower costs for students and taxpayers and to increase the number of students getting degrees, especially in STEM fields. Brown included $37 million in this budget for Internet learning initiatives, along with hundreds of millions more to restore some cuts. But he is also demanding that the systems reduce costs, improve access to courses students need for degrees and improve graduation rates.
The SJSU pilot the governor praised Tuesday has elements of all of that. The partnership with Udacity, a Palo Alto online education company, is for three classes: entry-level math, elementary statistics and college algebra. The courses are required, but too many students have trouble passing. That makes them good choices for this experiment with an interactive curriculum and a low cost — $150, not much more than a community college course.
SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi is a leading advocate for sweeping reforms. He co-wrote a paper last fall recommending that dozens of introductory courses — things like Economics 101 — be redesigned and offered online. The classes would have a common numbering system, and all three college systems would use them.
This would benefit students, taxpayers and businesses. It would make transferring from community college seamless. It would help keep students in school in the crucial first years by making the curriculum more interactive, which has been proven to engage students. And Qayoumi estimates it could reduce the overall cost of higher education by 16 percent.
This won’t happen quickly. But the SJSU pilot, along with Brown’s enthusiasm, could begin the transformation.
Posted by ABC 7 Jan. 15, 2013.
By Associated Press (ABC7 News contributed to this report.)
SAN FRANCISCO — San Jose State University and a Silicon Valley company on Tuesday announced a partnership to offer affordable online classes for credit, an initiative backed by Gov. Jerry Brown to help California colleges reduce costs and expand student access.
The pilot program, co-developed by San Jose State and Palo Alto-based Udacity Inc., will begin offering three entry-level courses for $150 each starting later this month. The California State University campus charges about $620 for similar classroom-based courses.
The online effort began this past summer when the governor called Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun and asked him to help develop digital courses for California colleges. Thrun is a researcher at Stanford University and Google Inc. who launched Udacity to provide so-called massive open online courses, or MOOCs.
Brown said Tuesday the goal is to allow students to “graduate quicker so they don’t carry this big load of debt on their backs for the next 25 years,” noting that only 16 percent of Cal State students graduate in four years.
The initiative, called “San Jose State University Plus,” is different from other online education programs because it will offer introductory courses for credit, charge low fees and welcome students who don’t attend the school, officials said.
The pilot program will enroll about 100 students in each class, with half from outside San Jose State. It will target high school students, waitlisted community college students, members of the armed forces and veterans.
The first classes offered will be pre-algebra, algebra and elementary statistics – three-unit “gateway courses” with high failure rates that are required for most Cal State degree programs.
“These are the courses that are high demand. Everybody needs them to move to the next part of their curriculum sequence,” said Timothy White, the new chancellor of the 23-campus CSU system.
San Jose State faculty will be the instructors of record for the classes and will evaluate students. No textbooks are required, and students will have access to mentors through chat rooms, a helpline and other means.
“I’ll be communicating with those students via chat and tutoring them. Udasity is also going to be offering online tutoring,” said Sandra DeSousa, a SJSU algebra professor.
“I want to democratize education. I want to level the playing field for everybody,” Thrun told ABC7 News.
“After all, we are here in San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley, the cradle of creatively and the epicenter of innovation,” said San Jose State president Mohammad Qayoumi.
San Jose student Alan Cochrane told ABC7 News he likes the idea. He said, “I feel like it may be cheaper. For me personally, I like on line courses because it helps me focus more.”
Brown said, “It’s an experiment and we’re going to learn together. That’s why I think we will succeed.”
Thrun admits the pilot project is a work in progress. He told ABC7 News, “Wait two or three years into it. I hope it’s going to be much, much better.”
In his 2013-2014 budget, Brown has proposed giving California’s public colleges and universities more money. But in return, the Democratic governor wants them to hold down costs, stop raising tuition and embrace online learning.
Brown is scheduled to attend the University of California Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday, when university officials plan to discuss plans to expand online learning at the 10-campus system. Leaders of the online education providers Coursera, edX and Udacity are expected to speak at the gathering.
U.C. has spent $4 million to market the idea, but only one person who wasn’t already a U.C. student, has signed up for any of the 14 courses.
ABC7 News contributed to this report.
Top elected and higher education officials joined Silicon Valley’s leading entrepreneurs at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library on Jan. 15 for the advent of a groundbreaking partnership aimed at bridging public higher education with a promising Silicon Valley startup.
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. spoke at the event about the long-term potential for San Jose State Plus before SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi and Udacity Inc. CEO and Co-Founder Sebastian Thrun signed the official agreement.
In his first public appearance at SJSU, recently appointed California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White provided a systemwide perspective on the announcement and online education. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Marc Andreessen attended to lend his support.
SJSU community members joined the media and officials to participate in a rigorous question and answer session including Brown, Qayoumi, Thrun, White and SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.
San Jose State University and Udacity Announce Partnership to Pilot For-Credit Online Courses to Expand Access to Higher Education
SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University and Silicon Valley-based online education startup Udacity Inc. have reached an agreement to develop a pilot program to be called San Jose State Plus, offering college classes for credit to SJSU and non-SJSU students beginning in January 2013. Registration begins today. View video and photos from a news conference held Jan. 15.
The partnership will combine the knowledge and expertise of SJSU faculty members with Udacity’s cutting-edge online platform and pedagogy to work together toward helping a greater percentage of students excel in their chosen majors. This pilot purposely focuses on two math classes and one statistics class that nearly every student must complete to succeed in college.
“As the public university that sends 8,000 graduates annually into the Silicon Valley workforce, San Jose State University must and will take a leading role in leveraging technology to transform higher ed with the goal of making a college degree affordable and accessible to all,” said SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi.
The passage of Proposition 30 signaled renewed voter support for public higher education in California. But limited public resources, coupled with an ever growing need for college graduates to fuel the state’s tech economy, means educators must seek the most effective means to expand access reflecting the California Master Plan for Higher Education’s commitment to a college education for all who qualify.
This marks the first time that a broad and diverse range of students, not just matriculated students, will have access to online college classes for credit from an accredited university at a very affordable price of $150 per course, about the same as a course at the California Community Colleges.
The pilot’s target population includes underserved groups such as high school students who will earn college credit, waitlisted students at California Community Colleges who would otherwise face out-of-state or private options, and members of the armed forces and veterans. The National Science Foundation will provide funding to support the assessment of this groundbreaking effort.
“By providing engaging, accessible and affordable classes, we are studying whether this pilot offers a new pathway to credit for students currently shut out of the higher education system,” said Udacity CEO and Co-Founder Sebastian Thrun. “We have always pushed ourselves to improve online learning technology to provide the very best higher education has to offer to students everywhere, including students right here in California. We have much to learn, but are excited by the potential this partnership represents.”
Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra and Elementary Statistics are the three courses to be offered in this pilot. SJSU faculty members working with Udacity designed and created all three classes to include engaging video instruction interspersed with quizzes and other interactive elements, as well as course mentors supporting students throughout the course.
“This pilot is possible because of our extraordinary and dedicated faculty members who care deeply about student learning and success, and their willingness to explore new ways to teach students, especially traditionally underserved students who aspire to college degrees and beyond,” said SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.
“Serving Silicon Valley, one of the most vibrant centers of innovation in the nation, San Jose State is home to instructors who are innovators, stepping up to team with Udacity,” Provost Junn continued. “Together, we will explore and evaluate, in a systematic way, how we can provide a high-quality, interactive and exemplary online learning experience for all students that is affordable, lends greater access and ensures student success.
The pilot program will address and study a number of pressing questions facing online learning including massive open online courses. Distinctive features include the following:
- SJSU faculty members will create and teach the courses in coordination with Udacity, and will be the instructors of record throughout the term. SJSU faculty members will carry the sole authority and responsibility for assessing student learning. Each course will be enriched with support provided by Udacity staff members and course mentors, who will track, encourage and monitor students.
- Three critical entry-level courses with high failure rates were selected for this pilot. Revising these key classes to improve student interest, engagement, motivation and learning should result in multiple positive outcomes for later academic success.
- In this pilot, student enrollment will be limited to 100 students per course, with 50 SJSU students and 50 non-SJSU students. Priority enrollment will be given to high school students, community college students, members of the armed forces, veterans and waitlisted SJSU students. All students will earn college credit.
- This pilot will include the formal collection and analysis of student learning data and faculty feedback to assess progress and mastery of course learning objectives and outcomes. Faculty members will be involved in this assessment by an external firm.
- There will be no textbooks required for any of the courses as the content will be embedded and self-contained online. Faculty members may recommend optional open-source or free textbooks for students who would like additional outside materials.
- Human mentoring will be available via chat rooms, a helpline, instructor-facilitated peer meetings and outreach when a student is falling behind and needs more encouragement and support.
- Exams will be proctored online, with no campus visits required. Student identity authentication and compliance with all applicable privacy laws will be ensured and protected. Accessibility and compliance with all applicable laws for students with disabilities will be addressed.
SJSU’s Next Generation Initiative
This effort is part of a campaign led by President Qayoumi, who argues educational institutions urgently need new approaches to teaching and assessing learning that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and that relate to real-world, 21st-century problems. Learn more via the president’s white paper “Reinventing Public Higher Education: A Call to Action.”
“SJSU Plus represents the dawn of a new era in providing high-quality college courses at an affordable price for anyone, anywhere, anytime,” President Qayoumi said. “San Jose State is proud to be a pioneer and trailblazer with Udacity in this important initiative.”
About San Jose State
San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.
Udacity is a social venture that seeks to bring accessible, engaging, and effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to develop their skills in order to advance their education and careers. Udacity has been at the forefront of developing new online pedagogy that bridges education and employable skills with courses in Computer Science, Mathematics, Programming, General Sciences, and Entrepreneurship at www.Udacity.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is SJSU Plus and why is SJSU involved in this effort?
SJSU is partnering with Udacity in a groundbreaking online education venture (known as SJSU Plus) to be among the first university to pilot a new form of interactive online courses to formally test if this modality enhances student learning and might improve greater access to higher learning through the use of educational technology. This partnership seeks to provide online, accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective courses created by our own SJSU faculty that would be available for credit at a very affordable price for all students, including under-served populations of students. Should this initial pilot of three online, entry-level courses be successful, it also might be part of an innovative solution to address the increasing demand for higher education needs in California, particularly in STEM fields.
Why was Udacity chosen as a partner?
Udacity was an early pioneer in massive open online courses (MOOC) and offers highly-engaging video content mixed with frequent interactive quizzes and a contextual “learn by doing” approach. Their newest approach also integrates more human interaction and connection by utilizing forums and mentors.
Why did Udacity decide to partner with San Jose State University?
Udacity believes that as Silicon Valley’s largest public university, San Jose State University has been particularly progressive in its approach to embracing new ways of teaching. Udacity was excited to collaborate with SJSU as part of a campaign led by President Qayoumi, who argues that higher educational institutions urgently need new approaches to teaching and assessing learning that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and that relate to real-world, 21st-century problems.
Who else is involved in this effort?
There are other external organizations that are interested in this pilot for a variety of reasons.
- The National Science Foundation, through its Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science program, is funding our pilot to evaluate student outcomes in these pilot classes.
- The American Council on Education (ACE) will be evaluating these courses, as well as Udacity’s Computer Science 101 course, in order to recommend them for credit among their nearly 2,000 member institutions.
- Additionally, through a grant from the Gates Foundation, ACE will be conducting research with University of Illinois, Springfield, on what student demographic groups are best served by and benefit from access to open online courses.
Are our faculty members teaching the courses?
Yes, our SJSU faculty members are creating the three pilot courses in coordination with Udacity, and they will be the sole instructor of record throughout the term. SJSU faculty members will carry the sole authority and responsibility for assessing student learning. SJSU professors will lead the development of the course curriculum and instruction. Udacity provides the platform as well as support in developing course elements (e.g., videos, activities, quizzes) and consults on instructional design optimized for the online medium. Each course will be enriched with additional student support provided by Udacity staff members and course mentors, who will track, monitor and encourage students.
How and why were the courses selected? How were faculty selected?
For this pilot, three foundational, bottleneck, entry-level courses, often with high failure rates were selected. By revising these key, gateway classes to improve student interest, engagement, motivation and learning, SJSU hopes to garner multiple positive outcomes for student learning and future academic success.
Once courses were identified, faculty were recruited by working with relevant department chairs, deans and associate deans who solicited faculty interest and willingness to work on developing these innovative online courses.
What are the specific chosen courses?
- Developmental Math (Entry-Level Math, Algebra Review) Math 6 Course. Description: This course uses algebra to quantify and describe the world around us by exploring questions like “How many songs can fit onto your flash drive?”, or “What’s a better deal: The family size box of crackers or the regular box of crackers? By the end of the course, students will have stronger skills for modeling problems, analyzing patterns, and using algebra to arrive at conclusions.
- College Algebra Math 8 Course. Description: This class illustrates that math is everywhere. Students gain an in-depth understanding of algebraic principles, and learn how to use them to solve problems that they encounter in everyday life. Students learn about functions, polynomials, graphing, complex numbers, exponential and logarithmic equations, and much more, all through exploring real-world scenarios.
- Elementary Statistics Stats 95 Course. Description: Students learn how to organize, describe, and interpret data, enabling them to think about the information in a whole new light. The class allows students visualize data, calculate statistics that describe data, and use statistical methods to make decisions.
How many students will be enrolled in SJSU Plus?
In this pilot, student enrollment will be limited to 100 students per course–with 50 SJSU students and 50 non-SJSU students. Priority enrollment will be given to interested and/or waitlisted SJSU students, as well as non-SJSU students, such as high school students, community college students, and members of the armed forces or veterans. All students in our SJSU Plus pilot will earn college credit that would be transferable to our campus or any other accredited campus.
How much will the courses cost for students and what services will be provided?
Each SJSU Plus course will be very affordable and cost $150 for matriculated and non-matriculated students and will be offered this Spring 2013 through SJSU’s College of International and Extended Studies. This is a revised MOOC 2.0 model (as Udacity calls it), where enrolled for-credit students will receive access to SJSU professors, additional support services, proctored and authenticated online exams, and course mentors. These augmented services for students are designed to improve student connections with the professor and strengthen and support students’ learning opportunities. Furthermore, for SJSU students, the cost of these courses through CIES could be covered for eligible students under state (but not federal) financial aid.
For students not interested in college credit, access to the MOOC courses will be open and free as in the original MOOC 1.0 model. Non-credit students will not receive any interaction from professors, nor receive any of the additional student support services, and of course, no college credit.
Is there a revenue share to this agreement?
Yes, after deducting combined SJSU and Udacity development and implementation costs, there is a revenue share agreement. Developing and offering these courses requires investments in a variety of baseline costs, such as course development and technical staff costs, instructor training and support services, as well as online proctoring, authentication and other administrative costs. In our joint collaboration, SJSU and Udacity are partners in sharing revenues after costs.
What are the dates of these courses?
These pilot courses will run during spring semester 2013, from Jan. 30, 2013 to mid-May 2013.
Are there textbooks?
There will be no textbooks required for any of the courses as the content will be embedded and self-contained online. Faculty members may recommend optional open-source or free textbooks for students who would like additional outside materials.
Unlike other Udacity courses, are these classes more schedule-centric? Are there certain deadlines for fulfilling the course requirements?
The courses for credit will follow a similar schedule as those taught on campus. However, since Udacity courses can be taken at home or on the go, students will be able to watch lectures, participate in quizzes, and engage fellow students at any time that is convenient to them throughout the day/night.
Will there be any contact between faculty and students and among students?
Human mentoring will be available via chat rooms, a helpline, professor-facilitated peer meetings and mentor outreach when a student is falling behind and needs more encouragement and support.
How will student identities be verified during exams?
Exams will be proctored online, with no campus visits required. Student identity authentication and compliance with all applicable privacy laws will be ensured and protected. Accessibility and compliance with all applicable laws for students with disabilities will be addressed.
Will there be an assessment of these courses?
Yes, one of the major goals of this pilot is to include the formal collection and statistical analyses of both quantitative and qualitative student learning data, as well as faculty and student feedback to assess student progress and mastery of course learning objectives and outcomes.
Faculty members will conduct their normal assessments and evaluation of student learning for their courses, and they also will be involved in an additional third-party assessment conducted by an external firm and funded by a NSF grant.
Data and resulting reports regarding the outcomes of this pilot will be publicly available, widely disseminated and published whenever possible.
San Jose State’s effort to improve the academic technology available to faculty members continues with the adoption of a new learning management system, Canvas by Instructure. At the Campus Kick-off Event 11 a.m. Dec. 13 in King 225/227, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn will detail how the decision fits into the university’s broad vision for the future of academic technology and 21st century learning. Learning management systems help instructors and students communicate online. “Canvas is located in the cloud and thereby provides maximum flexibility and adaptability for users, and it features an unparalleled open architecture that permits faculty and students to easily integrate external applications directly into the LMS,” Junn said. “I believe that faculty and students will find this new Canvas LMS a welcome change because it’s significantly easier and more intuitive to use.” Read the Canvas news release. See what the excitement’s about by viewing this one-minute video.
SJSU’s Information Technology Services office is offering a series of open forums to introduce campuswide IT project initiatives to members of our faculty, staff and administration.
These sessions will also offer users the opportunity to provide feedback. Topics include the following:
WebEx Collaboration – Implemented Aug. 31, 2012, web conferencing including video, audio, and computer interactions is available to all faculty and staff members.
Unified Communication System – A campuswide Voice Over IP (VOIP) phone system implementation will begin in November 2012.
Wireless Network Expansion – Increased coverage and density of our campus wireless network within campus buildings and Spartan Stadium is currently in progress.
Student Email – Student email is switching to Google Apps Edu on Nov. 13, 2012.
Campus Next Generation Network – This includes end-to-end centralized management of all networking resources.
Next Generation Learning Spaces – We are enhancing campus classrooms with state-of-the-art audio, visual and lecture capture technology. The first class room (Clark Hall 118) is completed. More classrooms are planned for spring 2013.
Enhanced Computing Resources – State-of-the-art integrated server, storage and network technology will enable high performing virtual servers.
Digital Signage – Centralized content management software will integrate the content (text, image and video programming) flowing to digital LCD monitors across campus.
The IT Open Forums will be held at 2 p.m. on the following dates in Engineering 285/287 (except as noted):
• Nov. 7, 2012 (Engineering 189)
• Jan. 17, 2013
• March 21, 2013
• May 16, 2013
• July 18, 2013
• Sept. 19, 2013
• Nov. 21, 2013
SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University invited members of the media Oct. 18 to experience a collaboration with edX, the transformational new online educational initiative founded by MIT and Harvard, resulting in SJSU’s first “flipped class.” View a video of the news conference.
Preliminary results described in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggest this class, which is using an electrical engineering MOOC (the MITx 6.002x Circuits and Electronics Massively Online Open Course), may be an effective way to reinvent and transform the academic experience of electrical engineering students.
“Public higher education needs a new teaching model,” SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi said. “Advances in technology, the expansion of online learning and the needs and expectations of tech-savvy students are changing the role of colleges and universities.”
SJSU’s innovative effort brought together the not-for-profit edX, which offers interactive education wherever there is Internet access, and the only public university serving Silicon Valley.
SJSU serves 30,000 students, including 4,600 engineering students on the threshold of the world’s leading tech companies including Adobe, Apple and Cisco. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked SJSU’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering third in the nation among master’s level public universities excluding service academies.
“Here at San Jose State, in the heart of Silicon Valley, there is so much that is happening in terms of innovation and technology,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn. “This is the right time for this institution to really step up and try to utilize some of the new technologies for the purposes of improving student learning.”
This past summer, SJSU faculty members traveled to Cambridge, Mass., to meet and work with the edX team. Their goal was to integrate 6.002x materials into an SJSU course.
SJSU students have been viewing and using online materials as homework, including lectures, quizzes and virtual labs available through the edX platform. Then they go to class to work through problem sets with their instructor, thereby flipping the conventional approach of lectures in class and problem sets at home.
Watching Lectures Anywhere
“The best thing about the class is I can watch the lectures anywhere,” said Jordan Carter, ’14 Mechanical Engineering. “I have watched the videos at my own home. I’ve watched the videos on the light rail train coming to school. It’s really convenient.”
Today, the men and women of SJSU’s first flipped class met their online instructor in person for the first time. The instructor for MITx 6.002x is Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and edX President who is capturing the attention of learners worldwide with his engaging, substantive online lectures.
SJSU faculty members and students shared their experiences, including their midterm exam results. These results represent the first-ever, classroom-based preliminary data assessment of the San Jose State University experiment, designed to see if MOOC material can effectively enhance student learning in a for-credit class at a major university.
“We found that midterm exam scores of students in the flipped class were higher than those in the traditional classes,” SJSU Lecturer of Electrical Engineering Khosrow Ghadiri said. “Although the midterm questions were more difficult for the flipped students, their median score was 10 to 11 points higher than those for two other sections of students who took a traditional version of the course.”
SJSU’s Next Generation Initiative
SJSU recently launched a $28 million initiative to upgrade the campus’ information technology infrastructure while supporting faculty efforts to use and apply these next-generation technologies to better support student learning.
This effort is part of an even larger campaign led by SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi, who argues educational institutions urgently need new approaches to teaching and assessing learning that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and that relate to real-world, 21st-century problems.
Learn more via President Qayoumi’s newly published white paper, “Reinventing Higher Education: A Call to Action.”
San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.
To strengthen the faculty’s interest in next-generation technologies, SJSU hosted the “21st Century Teaching: Opportunities and Incentives” symposium Sept. 24 at King Library.
The one-day workshop focused on using online educational resources to enhance student learning. More than 150 faculty members attended, building on SJSU’s Next Generation Technology Initiative.
“It is so exciting that faculty members want to learn something new to help our students and leverage technology we have here in Silicon Valley,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.
Keynote speaker Candace Thille, professor and director of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University, discussed developing better tools for teaching today’s student within an open-source learning environment.
“There is a great diversity in how well prepared students are and what skills they have to engage [in university life] once they get here,” Thille said.
She also discussed developing goal-directed practices, building fluency in open-source learning environments, and using interactive student data to guide teaching.
“Technology is changing everything, and teaching should be no different,” Thille said. “But what stays the same is the learning process: reflection, discussion, and problem solving.”
After Thille’s address, SJSU faculty members from the colleges of engineering, education, business and social sciences presented existing online education initiatives and the results of these experiences.
Over lunch, faculty members discussed and joined various technology-related Faculty Learning Communities to explore the new teaching landscape with colleagues.
You can view the full symposium here.
As San Jose State embarks on reinventing the classroom experience through its Next Generation initiative, our new Associate Vice President and Senior Academic Technology Officer Catheryn Cheal talked to SJSU Today about her passion and vision for the field.
An expert in classical archaeology, Cheal has extensive experience with academic technology. She was an assistant vice president of e-learning and instructional support at Oakland University, Michigan, and she helped create and direct the Office of Online Instruction at CSU Northridge.
The following was edited for length and clarity.
Our president emphasizes “agility through technology” and “blended learning,” which combines in-person and online classes. Can you tell us what you meant when you said “the efficiencies of online teaching are not as important as the variety of good online pedagogical methods available?”
Certainly you need to choose between the vast amount of software that is out there and adapt to the constantly changing landscape of what is available and what students are interested in and the direction things are going. You need the agility to hop from one thing to the next and to determine how to use it in teaching. One tool might be good for a specific subject matter but not work for another. It varies a great deal as to what people do with it and so we are going to try to provide as much as possible from a central unit in academic technology.
Learning management systems are good at offering different tools within one program. I think teaching hybrid courses means that a university needs to offer an entire suite of tools such as learning management systems with course evaluations, web conferencing systems for synching, virtual worlds such as Second Life, iclickers, and GPS software. With these tools, you improve efficiency and pedagogy. Both are important.
You talk about using discussion boards as a method of teaching. Do people like to teach each other?
People love to teach each other. Just go online in any community. People like to say what they know and they like to ask questions of others to find out things. We can take advantage of that ability among people. The lecture doesn’t take advantage of that in quite the same way. When you have 50 people seated in a room, they all can’t talk at once. It’s just chaotic. The discussion board, which has always been the heart of online teaching, can do that in an orderly fashion that you can’t do in a classroom. Basically what I am trying to find was a way to keep people active and interested in their learning and realize the fun of it. And they get that when they begin to share with one another. There is something about the back and forth that gives people energy.
Tell us about a course you taught online — subject, number of students, methods. What worked? What didn’t?
I started with art history. It was a general art appreciation GE course. It was about 40 students. The method was: do the reading, and then take an online quiz. Then they did a discussion board, activity, or we all got online at the same time and did small group chats. It worked. Everyone got to the same place at the end and they learned just as much as in the classroom. A lot of them felt better about it because they did a lot more one-on-one talking with me. The textbook was useful because students had to go through the textbook to do the online work. There are always things you can refine. And then there are always some technical difficulties gradually over time, but these things worked out. I became very interested in making things very clear and very simple to follow for the student, and that way I got a lot less questions over time.
Tell us about the ideal online course. What’s in it for students? for faculty?
There is not really an ideal because every subject matter has to use different methods and there are a lot of different methods out there. You can do a class that is entirely synchronous-video conferencing that has much the same teaching methods as a live class. Or you can re-conceptualize your lectures as discussion boards, where an interactive discussion board becomes the lecture. Other choices include videos, followed by quizzes. There are many different teaching methods out there. The goal is to be very supportive of the subject and what the faculty member thinks would be the best method. Maybe the ideal is what captures peoples’ attention and imagination and projects that are exciting to do. Real-life projects are usually what engage people; that’s always the ideal I think we’re aiming at.
What is your mandate here at SJSU? What’s the first thing you would like to change?
My mandate here is to initiate a number of different technological implementations. We have a new learning management system called Canvas. We have a new video conferencing system through Cisco called WebEx and a new lecture-capture system called Show and Share, also through WebEx. We are also updating a lot of the hardware in the classrooms to support the new and different technologies. One of the things I want to do is reorganize our web pages to show faculty everything that is available to them. Right now, it is not as clear. We have a lot to offer on campus. I would like to have a unified front for everything that is available so that any faculty member that is new on campus can chose from all of these different possibilities.
SAN JOSE, CA – As the only large public university in Silicon Valley and as the major source of workforce power for the region’s tech industry, San Jose State University has launched a five-year, $28 million initiative to partner with Cisco and Nexus IS Inc. to upgrade the campus’ information technology infrastructure.
Moreover, San Jose State is supporting faculty in using and applying next generation technologies to better support students’ learning by partnering with corporate neighbors and with other cutting edge educational efforts such as Harvard-MIT-UC Berkeley’s edX and Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative.
SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi outlines the long-term potential for this tech initiative in his white paper, “Reinventing Public Higher Education: A Call to Action.”
“The university sits in a position of real opportunity given the double incentive of recent technological advances coupled with the decline in state support for public education,” President Qayoumi said. “Never before in the history of higher education has technology provided such important challenges and opportunities. We must reinvent teaching, learning and educational delivery systems.”
The Next Generation Technology Project reflects “SJSU’s Strategic Plan: Vision 2017,” developed after President Qayoumi’s 49 town hall meetings with students, faculty and staff who collectively identified five distinct campus priority goals including supporting “Unbounded Learning,” “21st Century Learning Spaces” and “Agility Through Technology.”
An Integrated Plan
San Jose State selected Cisco and Nexus to upgrade the campus’ infrastructure in accordance with a fully integrated and comprehensive plan designed to improve the learning experience for students. Plans for the first 18-24 months include the following:
- SJSU will develop a total of 51 next-generation learning spaces with all the equipment needed to enable high-definition recording, indexing and transcription of lectures and classroom experiences within the next 18 months. Eleven next-generation learning spaces will be completed this fall, with the remaining 40 to be completed by the start of fall 2013.
- SJSU will make Cisco Show and Share® and TelePresence® available at no cost to all students, faculty and staff within the next 18 months. These services will be fully integrated with audio and video recording equipment in the 51 next-generation learning spaces, providing students with access to classroom experiences, lectures and meetings anytime and anywhere.
- SJSU has brought Cisco WebEx® web conferencing to the campus community. WebEx provides access to live lectures inside the 51 next-generation classrooms and beyond, anytime and anywhere faculty members and students connect using cameras on their own computers.
- SJSU will consolidate phone service from five separate systems into a single Cisco Unified IP Phone system for the entire campus within the next 18 months.
- SJSU will expand its free, secure wireless Internet service, utilizing Cisco wireless solutions to serve all students, faculty, staff and guests campuswide.
Mindful of the dramatic budget cuts that continue to loom for the state and public higher education, the first year of the project will be funded by proceeds from the sale of San Jose State’s Educational Broadband Service spectrum, facilitated by the Federal Communications Commission to increase educational programming accessible via the Internet. Other funding sources include the ongoing SJSU Information Technology Services office budget, SJSU’s new Student Success, Excellence and Technology Fee, and SJSU’s continuing education program.
Supporting Student Learning
The goal is not to replace conventional teaching methods, but build on what we do now in order to enhance student learning and preparation for the workplace. Numerous studies have shown outcomes improve when instructors and students combine traditional and new teaching methods using the latest technology.
For example, “lecture-capture” software and equipment will allow students to review as many times as needed all aspects of a classroom presentation, including slides and whiteboard notes. This could benefit all students on all topics, but will be especially helpful for challenging classes heavy with complex material or for students who speak English as a second language.
“This is a top priority for San Jose State, which seeks to provide access to higher education and professional opportunities for many first-generation Americans in the heart of Silicon Valley, where science, technology, engineering and mathematics are at the core of the industries driving the regional economy,” Qayoumi said.
New Teaching Methodologies
In addition to the IT infrastructure upgrade, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn, along with Associate Vice President for Academic Technology Catheryn Cheal, are leading efforts to strategically employ and assess new teaching methodologies with faculty and other key industry leaders such as Adobe to deepen San Jose students’ skills with new technology products and services.
“San Jose State University is uniquely positioned to be pioneers in the use of academic technology because we are the only large, public university located in the heart of Silicon Valley. It has been incredibly gratifying to reach out to the industry leaders in our backyard, and receive such a positive response in terms of partnering with our faculty to develop and use technology to enrich and deepen our students’ learning and skills in the digital world,” Provost Junn said.
“Our graduates go on to become top hires for many of the tech industries here in Silicon Valley,” Junn said. “So, it’s no surprise that San Jose State and our technology partners want to invest more in our students by working closely with our faculty to become cutting edge adopters and forerunners in the use of academic technology to enhance student learning.”
Some of the new programs that will be launched this fall for faculty include the following:
- Enhancing students’ use of Adobe® Creative Suite® software and digital media.
- Innovating learning with Apple products such as iPads, iBooks, iTunesU and iMovie.
- Designing more effective learning experiences for students by creating online, hybrid and flipped (viewing recorded lectures at home so instructors can work with students in class) courses.
- Implementing lecture capture and video conferencing.
- Introducing the use of online student writing support tools such as ETS Criterion.
- Joining with Harvard-MIT-UC Berkeley’s edX initiative and with Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative.
- Tracking and measuring student learning with learning analytics and learning dashboards.
- Utilizing assessment tools such as ETS Major Field Tests and ETS Proficiency Profile to measure student learning outcomes and support institutional reporting.
- Leveraging game-based resources for student learning.
- Making educational materials from the KQED and PBS LearningMedia archive available to faculty and students in partnership with the University Library.
“At SJSU, we seek to become recognized leaders in developing innovative and effective curricula, reinventing and supporting faculty work, deepening student engagement with academic and professional learning and expanding our international and global connections by utilizing effective new technologies to meet academic goals,” Provost Junn said. “It’s a very exciting time to be at San Jose State—we are a community of faculty, students and staff who are on the move!”
San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com.
EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. Based on a long history of collaboration and their shared educational missions, the founders are creating a new online-learning experience with online courses that reflect their disciplinary breadth. Along with offering online courses, the institutions will use edX to research how students learn and how technology can transform learning-both on-campus and worldwide. Anant Agarwal, former Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, serves as the first president of edX. EdX’s goals combine the desire to reach out to students of all ages, means, and nations, and to deliver these teachings from a faculty who reflect the diversity of its audience. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is governed by MIT and Harvard.
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