In January, San Jose State University made a big announcement: It had reached a deal with the startup Udacity to offer college classes for credit online, for a modest fee, not only to its own students but to anyone who wanted to take them. The move was touted as a major step in online learning’s Clay Christensen-approved march toward the ultimate disruption of higher education.
It seems, however, that there are a few more kinks to work out before we all toss out the books and the buildings for good. Inside Higher Ed reported on Thursday that San Jose State is suspending the Udacity partnership just six months after it launched. The problem: More than half the students in the first batch of online courses failed their final exams.If you're concerned about the quality of education, and about high standards, a high failure rate isn't a priori a bad thing; what you really want to know is to what standard was the course taught, how were the students assessed, and are the assessment results a valid representation of what the students learned. None of that was mentioned in this story, only the failure rate was--which leads me to wonder if San Jose State is dropping this partnership for no other reason than it made them look bad.