By Steve Kolowich
G.P. (Bud) Peterson, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is determined not to become the next casualty of a failed MOOC experiment.
Mr. Peterson saw what happened at San Jose State University earlier this year: An experiment with Udacity, a company that specializes in massive open online courses, turned into an embarrassment for Mohammad H. Qayoumi, San Jose State’s president, after its first run, in the spring semester, produced underwhelming results.
Georgia Tech is taking precautions to make sure its own high-profile experiment with Udacity does not meet a similar fate. The experiment is a fully online master’s program in computer science that Georgia Tech professors will teach on the Udacity platform with help from “course assistants” hired by the company.
Mr. Peterson refuses to even call the Udacity collaboration an experiment. “This is a pilot,” he said in an interview with The Chronicle. “Experiments fail. I’m doing everything I can to make sure this does not fail.”
Georgia Tech’s cautious approach starts with enrolling students who are likely to succeed. One of the variables that sank San Jose State’s initial experiment with Udacity last spring was including at-risk students in the experimental trials. Courses offered to a broader mix of students during the summer, however, had better outcomes—possibly because more than half of them already held college degrees.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/georgia-tech-designs-its-udacity-pilot-to-avoid-failure/48947 ]