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San Jose State U. and Udacity Resume Online-Learning Trials

After putting its high-profile online-learning experiment on hold for the fall semester, San Jose State University said on Tuesday that it would resume offering three online courses next spring in conjunction with Udacity, one of the three big providers of massive open online courses.

The courses—”Elementary Statistics,” “Introduction to Programming,” and “General Psychology”—are among five with which the university has tested whether teaching methods and technology that Udacity developed for MOOCs could be useful in more-conventional courses offered for university credit. Two mathematics courses that were offered last spring are not being reprised.

The three courses will be offered for credit to strictly limited numbers of San Jose State students and others in the California State University system, the university said. The courses will also be offered to all comers through Udacity’s website, but completing the courses will earn those students only Udacity certificates.

The university said that Udacity had made its content “open and free” to the San Jose State faculty members overseeing the classes and that the company would “receive no payments or revenue from this arrangement.”

San Jose State’s online-learning tests began last spring in an arrangement promoted by the university’s president, Mohammad H. Qayoumi, as well as by Udacity’s chief executive and co-founder, Sebastian Thrun, and California’s governor, Jerry Brown. Initial results, however, were decidedly mixed, leading the university to hold off offering courses this fall, although it went ahead with courses it had already promised to offer during the summer.

The experiments coincided with an equally high-profile rebellion by members of the university’s philosophy department, who declined the administration’s request that they incorporate into one of their courses material from a MOOC produced by a Harvard University professor for the MOOC provider edX.

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