July 21, 2013, 5:35 pm

Go read Tenured Radical’s comment on the recent revelation from San Jose State’s use of MOOCs, in which 83% of students finished the course and 56-76% of them failed it. She pretty much hits the nail on the head, but let me add in a few comments:

1. A failure rate of 56-76% translates over 40 courses (roughly typical for a four year college) into an infinitesimally low graduation rate. 56% gives you 0.0000000084629%. That’s a bit low because students could take more than 40 courses to manage graduation, but it’s also a bit high because it doesn’t allow for the 17% who didn’t finish the courses.

2. Not finishing or failing the course is – from a monetary standpoint – a feature, not a bug. Students who fail to finish or finish but fail have to pay again for the same (or an equivalent course). Profit!

3. TR points out that the Udacity founder Sebastien Thrun’s quote about the experience (‘On the bright side, Thrun said Udacity had gained some valuable data from the experience. “We are experimenting and learning,” he said. “That to me is a positive.”’) stands oddly with the increased supervision and regulation of human experimentation. I’m sure that Udacity followed all the procedures for such research at SJSU, right?

But of course higher education should continue in this direction because corporatization has worked so well in other areas of life.

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