By David F. Carr
After weathering a round of negative publicity, Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun believes vindication is at hand.
“The thing I’m insanely proud of right now is I think we’ve found the magic formula,” he said in an interview last week. “Had you asked me three months ago, I wouldn’t have said that. I’m not at the point where everything is great. There are a lot of things to be improved, a lot of mistakes we’re making, but I see it coming together.”
Formerly a Stanford University professor as well as the founder of the Google X Labs, which created the famed self-driving car and the Google Glass wearable computer, Thrun co-founded Udacity in 2011 to explore the possibilities of massive open online courses (MOOCs). The success Thrun claims to be on the verge of is actually outside the realm of MOOCs, if you define MOOC as a free online course with a huge enrollment. Instead, he is claiming an early victory in Udacity’s partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU) to offer $150 courses for which students would get credit for a passing grade, just as if they had attended on campus. The credit-bearing classes are much smaller, and in the latest round of classes the enrolled students got more tutoring and help.
Announced in January with great fanfare and the backing of California governor Jerry Brown, the SJSU partnership was also the source of Udacity’s biggest public relations headache, after the university decided in July to delay offering more courses with Udacity because of poor student pass rates in the spring semester. The results from the summer term, which was already in progress at the time of that announcement, are coming in, and Thrun says they show his company is on the right track.
[ Full article available at InformationWeek: http://www.informationweek.com/education/online-learning/udacity-ceo-says-mooc-magic-formula-emer/240160169 ]