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Online Degree Hits Learning Curve

13 Dec

Two professors, in 2013, at the University of Texas at Austin deliver their lecture to a camera crew.
[ Photo: Jared Moossy for The Wall Street Journal ]

Georgia Tech’s online computer-science program has 2,789 students this semester, but also has experienced some hiccups

By Melissa Korn

The Georgia Institute of Technology turned heads in 2013 when it announced plans to offer an inexpensive, online version of its master’s degree in computer science to what top administrators predicted would be a “massive” audience.

The program graduated its first class of students on Friday. All 20 of them.

Georgia Tech, with $3.5 million in backing from AT&T Inc., was on the forefront of an effort to harness the technology of massive, open, online courses, or MOOCs, to offer a high-quality education at a fraction of the cost of a traditional degree.

A number of top schools wanted to offer their courses through MOOCs, but few jumped on board with the idea of giving course credit. And even MOOC providers like Udacity, which offered technical expertise and the course platform for Georgia Tech, and Coursera, have since poured more resources into large-scale corporate training.

Now, Georgia Tech and a few other schools—including Arizona State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—are still trying to incorporate the technology of MOOCs into their credit-bearing academic programs. But they aren’t necessarily sticking to the original definitions of massive or open, instead settling on some hybrid of traditional MOOCs and more modest online degrees.

Students must meet certain admission requirements, pay for official university recognition, such as getting actual school credit, and, at MIT, even go to campus.

The Georgia Tech online computer-science program is relatively massive: It has 2,789 students enrolled this semester, compared with 312 in the campus-based version. It’s on track to turn a profit by May, according to Charles Isbell Jr., senior associate dean at the College of Computing. It has a steady stream of more than 1,300 applicants for each new term.

[ Full article available at The Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/online-degree-hits-learning-curve-1450055726 ]

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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News

 

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