SJSU/Udacity Update: Spring 2014

SJSU/Udacity: Spring 2014 Update

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – This spring, San Jose State will offer three online courses that were developed with Udacity to SJSU and California State University students.

San Jose State students are registering now for Elementary Statistics, Introduction to Programming and General Psychology. In addition, the programming and statistics courses will be open to all CSU students through the CSU’s CourseMatch program.

SJSU and CSU students who successfully complete the coursework will receive college credit. The cost will be covered by regular tuition. Udacity has made the content open and free to faculty members, and will receive no payments or revenue from this arrangement.

The SJSU instructors who originally developed the programming and psychology courses with Udacity will continue to teach these classes to SJSU and CSU students this spring. The statistics course will be transitioned to a different SJSU instructor in the same department. SJSU will hire and train teaching assistants as needed. All faculty members and students will use SJSU’s learning management system, Canvas.

Enrollment will be capped at 70 students for the statistics class, 150 students for the programming course and 35 students for the general psychology course. At least half of the seats for programming and statistics will go to SJSU students and the rest will go to CSU students.

San Jose State and Udacity established a partnership in spring 2013 to develop three interactive online courses for credit. The following summer, SJSU and Udacity expanded the partnership to include five courses. All five courses remain open and free to anyone through Udacity’s website. Those who finish a course through Udacity will receive a certificate of completion from Udacity.


Udacity on Ipad

SJSU Plus: Fall 2013 Update

[This item was updated Sept. 11, 2013, to reflect publication of the National Science Foundation report and historical comparison noted below.]

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

The following can be attributed to SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.

With summer drawing to a close, we would like to provide everyone with an update on the SJSU/Udacity partnership. SJSU Plus began in January with just under 300 students in three courses. In June, we added two more courses, with 2,091 students enrolling in all five classes.

What do these courses have in common? All are entry-level classes most students need to graduate. This matches the project’s goal, which is to provide high-quality, low-cost college courses for credit to everyone.

SJSU and Udacity learned quite a bit over the past six months. The spring pilot study funded by the National Science Foundation has been published.

San Jose State has also posted the following document: SJSU Plus Grade Distribution and Historical Comparison.

We would like to share some lessons learned.

Here’s what worked:

  • Learning by doing works. Online video allows us to stop every few minutes and offer students the opportunity to try what they’ve learned with an online exercise. Instructors have found this so effective that some are incorporating SJSU Plus materials into their campus-based courses.
  • Student interaction remains strong. Does online learning stifle conversation? We found the opposite. Students are connecting with each other, instructors and instructional assistants through every means available: text, email, phone calls, chats and meetings.

Here’s where we’ve improved:

  • Students need help preparing for class. With SJSU Plus reaching well beyond the SJSU campus, we are enrolling a growing number of students who are unfamiliar with the demands of college courses. This summer, 89 percent of our SJSU Plus students were not California State University students. So SJSU Plus now offers orientation in various forms in all five courses.
  • Students need help keeping up. Everyone needs a little encouragement to stay on track. So we’ve added tools that help students gauge their progress and we’re checking in with individual students more often.
  • We need to communicate better with students. Although SJSU and Udacity try to be as clear as possible with our online instruction, we know we can do better. Student feedback has been immensely helpful in refining SJSU Plus materials. We’re also sending less email and more messages while students are “in class” online.

Here’s what happened:

We’re still analyzing summer results. As you know, it can take a while to double check the numbers and understand cause and effect. But SJSU and Udacity are encouraged by improvements in student performance across the board. The following chart shows the percentage of students who earned a C or better.

Spring Pilot 2013 Summer Pilot 2013 SJSU On-Campus
(based on past 6 semesters)
Elementary Statistics 50.5% 83.0% 76.3%
College Algebra 25.4% 72.6% 64.7%
Entry Level Math 23.8% 29.8% 45.5%
General Psychology not offered 67.3% 83.0%
Intro to Programming not offered 70.4% 67.6%

(*Represents students who scored a C or better)

The overall retention rate dropped to 60 percent this summer, compared with 83 percent this spring, reflecting SJSU’s decision to be more flexible when students signaled to instructors that they needed to drop the course.

Here are a few things we’d like to clarify:

  • Over the summer, there were many comparisons made between our SJSU Plus and face-to-face courses. What many people failed to realize is this was not an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • On campus, we have students who are well acquainted with the rigor of college-level work. With SJSU Plus, most students are just beginning or resuming their college careers.
  • Also, the SJSU students enrolled in the SJSU Plus math courses this past spring failed the campus-based versions once before. Normally, these students would have been required to return to community college.
  • And that goes right back to our mission of increasing access. A 30 percent pass rate does sound low, until you stop and think that most of these students would not otherwise have had access to the course at all.

Here’s where we see things going in the future.

  • After taking a breather this fall to set the stage for student success in the future, we will resume offering SJSU Plus courses in January 2014. One major question we need to address is how to better sync our courses with our students’ busy schedules.
  • Many students have asked for greater flexibility in pacing, enabling them to speed up or slow down outside the confines of a conventional semester schedule. Customized scheduling is unprecedented at SJSU, but we would like to explore this option.
SJSU Plus Announcement

Update: Online Initiatives

SJSU Plus Announcement

In January 2013, San Jose State University and Silicon Valley-based online education startup Udacity Inc. launched SJSU Plus, offering college classes for credit to SJSU and non-SJSU students.

The following is a statement from Provost Ellen Junn and President Mohammad Qayoumi:

We would like to offer a few clarifications to recent reports regarding San Jose State University’s online course offerings and SJSU’s partnership with Udacity.

First, news coverage and much commentary have been based on very preliminary and unanalyzed data from a spring 2013 pilot of three SJSU Plus courses with Udacity. We are currently awaiting a more comprehensive National Science Foundation data analysis and report that will be available in August (spring semester courses ended and final grades were submitted only seven weeks ago). We look forward to discussing these results next month.

Second, SJSU remains firmly committed to its partnership with Udacity. We decided jointly to spend time this fall assessing all available data and making appropriate changes. Udacity is an outstanding, responsive partner with an exemplary commitment to empowering faculty to control course content, improving human contact with students, providing high quality student learning environments, and maintaining integrity. Together, we have learned a great deal from the spring 2013 pilot.

Third, it is important to note that at the outset, SJSU made a commitment to working with “at risk” students – many from disadvantaged economic backgrounds; high school students; and students of our own who had struggled with the curriculum (including many who had failed remedial math courses in the past). Without question, these and other factors significantly affect student performance outcomes.

We intend this fall to introduce additional opportunities for discussion, dialogue, and consultation with members of our campus community and others, and ensure alignment with campus policies and processes. We will also analyze results from our summer SJSU Plus courses, which are underway now.

In sum, we welcome vigorous public discussion of our pilot efforts and assessments of their effectiveness. We also encourage patience while we await findings of the NSF-funded analysis, which will offer a far more complete picture from this pilot and inform future efforts.

SJSU/Udacity Offer Summer Classes

SJSU and Udacity Add Summer Courses

SJSU/Udacity Offer Summer Classes

SJSU and Udacity will increase enrollment capacity for current courses (Elementary Statistics, College Algebra and Entry-Level Mathematics) and introduce two new courses (Introduction to Programming and Introduction to Psychology).

SJSU and Udacity have extended our groundbreaking partnership by offering for-credit summer classes. This extension signifies the considerable promise demonstrated in the initial pilot announced in January. We are also underscoring our continued commitment to broadening access to engaging and affordable higher learning through the use of educational technology, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. SJSU and Udacity will increase enrollment capacity for current courses (Elementary Statistics, College Algebra and Entry-Level Mathematics) and introduce two new courses (Introduction to Programming and Introduction to Psychology). The new courses will be available to 1,000 students each. All the courses are open to everyone, including high school, community college and university students from the Bay Area and beyond. Learn more about registration and check out Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun’s blog post. Registration closes May 24 and courses begin June 3.