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The failure of Udacity: lessons on quality for future MOOCs

The promise was simple, but the idea couldn’t have been bigger. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) would make courses from Harvard and MIT available free to anyone with an internet connection. The world’s…

Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun has over-promised and under-delivered. Flickr/jdlasica

The promise was simple, but the idea couldn’t have been bigger.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) would make courses from Harvard and MIT available free to anyone with an internet connection. The world’s poor would finally have access to the same education as American ivy league students, while traditional fee paying higher education would go the way of relics like CDs and sailing ships.

Massive open online education provider Udacity was one of those promising such change. In the past, Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun claimed MOOCs would spell the end of the conventional higher education model and transform access to knowledge.

Despite the big promises, retention rates in Udacity courses have been abysmal and those that did make it through were already those with bachelor degrees. Now Udacity has decided to charge money for their certified courses, leaving behind their claims of free quality higher education for all.

As leading technology-enhanced learning expert George Siemens described it:

[Thrun] promised us a bright future of open learning. He delivered to us something along the lines of a 1990s corporate e-learning program.

Even Thrun himself has now admitted that Udacity is “a lousy product”.

So where did it all go wrong for Thrun and Udacity? And why, when it comes to online education, did we ignore education experts, and listen to Silicon Valley instead?

A cheaper, faster education

Ultimately, the outcome of higher learning cannot be made cheaper and faster any more than you can expect to improve physical fitness if you cut corners at the gym.

While there are myriad products and services claiming a fast, cheap route to fitness, nothing is as effective as time and/or intensity pumping iron or going on the treadmill.

Similarly, if students don’t put in the right kind of work, with the right guidance and expend sufficient cognitive effort, they will not see results.

The fundamental understanding of quality online learning in higher education was mostly lost or ignored in the MOOC hype. Unlike the invention of online music stores or the steam-powered ship, the journey is just as important as the destination when it comes to learning. The ultimate aim of higher (as opposed to vocational) education is to transform student thinking and ways of being.

Getting there faster and cheaper short-changes everyone.

If we cannot give graduates the solid critical and creative thinking skills they need, they will be ill-equipped to deal with the immensely complex economic, social and environmental problems we face in the coming decades.

Where was the research?

An extensive history of research in education and the learning sciences tells us about the best ways of learning and teaching. Yet the voices of the thousands of eminent scholars in these fields have been largely drowned out.

Instead economists and innovation gurus like Harvard’s Clayton Christensen and technology advocates like Thrun have dominated the online education headlines.

Despite the enthusiasm of MOOC advocates, the quality of the learning experience in many (but by no means all) MOOCs is dubious. Watching videos of lectures and answering multiple-choice questions is hardly cutting edge pedagogy. But despite this, these kinds of MOOCs have been allowed to flourish with great fanfare.

The reason we have found ourselves here is partly due to the paradigm shift that seems to be occurring in education. There is growing tension between the science of learning and the art of teaching.

While practice-based and theoretical understanding of teaching have thrived and become the dominant paradigms in educational research, the learning sciences, such as psychological science, are increasingly encroaching on the classroom after being virtually absent for decades.

When medicine went through a similar paradigm shift, we saw merchants selling snake oil. Now in this new education shift, we’re seeing such dubious innovations as “brain training”.

The uncertainty around the best form of evidence for educational innovation is allowing pre-packaged solutions to education problems to prosper with little evidence to support their effectiveness.

Lessons for Udacity

The key to providing quality higher education in the digital age lies somewhere in between the technology devotees, educational researchers, teachers, developers and learning scientists.

Sound, evidence-based innovation is not to be found in the provocations of the likes of Thrun or Christensen alone. The business model does not operate in isolation from the quality of the service.

It would appear that despite their exceptional expertise in their disciplines, few of the loudest voices touting MOOCs are qualified or experienced in learning theory or educational technology. This includes Thrun and Christensen, who have no formal qualifications in education or the learning sciences.

A quest to innovate higher education resting solely on reducing time and cost dismisses the required cognitive effort and support needed to transform students’ fundamental thinking patterns. To develop the knowledge and skills to function effectively as a professional or scientist requires quality guidance, time and genuine effort.

Attempting to disrupt higher education in a way that undermines any of these factors is to devalue what it means to have a “higher” education.

There are good reasons why quality higher education costs as much as it does; a lesson that Udacity seems to be learning only now.

Join the conversation

51 Comments sorted by

  1. Jonathan Powles

    Associate Professor and Director, Teaching and Learning Centre at University of Canberra

    Some interesting and provocative analysis, here - altough I suspect in the increasingly polarised debate around the future of higher education this article will simply be pressed into service by the "MOOCs don't work, let's bring back face to face lectures, if it was good enough for us it will be good enough for today" brigade. And the article is saying something much more sophisticated.

    I suspect that "the failure of Udacity" will be to the history of education what "the failure of Napster" is to music.

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    1. Jack Bowers

      Learning Adviser

      In reply to Jonathan Powles

      I agree, Jonathan. This is not simply a question of "MOOCs bad, face to face good" and the temptation to polarise the discussion in this way should be resisted.

      However, there has been something evangelical about MOOC spruikers, and those of us who have voiced reservations - not "MOOCs bad", just reservations - have been ridiculed as Luddites and elbow patches of the Ivory Tower variety.

      Putting schadenfreude aside, MOOCs thus far have been pedagogically challenged and lacking a business model…

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    2. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Jack Bowers

      Yes, it was tiresome wading thru all that rubbish about moocs disrupting universities' 'business model' and making them redundant in a decade, etc. And I agree that most of the rubbish came not from educationalists but from (former) politicians, technophiles and business people. Altho I have kept a record of the educationalists who opportunistically climbed this bandwagon.

      But I'm not sure that many Australian vice chancellors and other prefixed chancellors consider(ed) moocs as a way of outsourcing undergraduate education. It may be fair to include UNE's Jim Barber in that and possibly Swinburne, but others?

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  2. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

    Thanks for this thoughtful account of where it's heading. I had expected this development, but definitely not so soon. Perhaps there are parallels with the idea of giving every kid a calculator to boost their mathematical skills, or "efficiency" at least. The sad outcome is there for all the world to see.

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  3. Alan Stenhouse

    Chief Monkey

    I think MOOCs are another tool that can be used in the process of educating yourself. For some, without the access to face-2-face education, they're wonderful. For others, they're not enough... but surely providing access to some of the materials is a good thing. The promise of hypertext/hypermedia/internet is still a work in progress, and this is one of those steps along the way.

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  4. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

    Principal and Co-founder

    "The key to providing quality higher education in the digital age lies somewhere in between the technology devotees, educational researchers, teachers, developers and learning scientists."

    This is 1000 year-old pedagogy. Top down. This is far from actual reality.

    In the digital age the key lies with the students. Bottom up.

    Udacity is an experiment. The first of many to follow. Suspend judgment. Adapt. Stay tuned.

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    1. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

      I won't be queueing up for a course that promises "bottom up" learning from the students.

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    2. Keith Brennan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

      Udacity's San Jose report indicates, fairly clearly, that there is a constituency for whom their model failed. Badly. It underperformed when compared to f2f classes for the same subject and type of class, and their digital model was a bad fit for many.

      In the digital age, the key for some students may lie with themselves;. And for other's it lies elsewhere. Digital technologies still require human agents, and human agents remain largely the same as they were, despite the Prenskyish assertions…

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    3. Kelli McGraw

      Lecturer in English Curriculum Studies at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to John Crest

      Same - I can already curate my own 'bottom-up' learning using my various personal learning networks. Student-driven learning is a great model, but I don't need a provider to do this for me.

      What providers are needed for is accreditation/certification. Whether this is provided via online or F2F learning (or a blend) isn't the point - giving students material that meets their needs, is engaging, and sustains further learning should be the goal.

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  5. Craig Savage

    Professor of Theoretical Physics at Australian National University

    It is disingenuous to suggest the "failure of Udacity". It is alive and well performing a wonderful service. Aiming for financially sustainability is a virtue, not a sin.

    Within a few metres of my office there are three high achieving academics deeply involved in different aspects of the MOOC revolution, as am I. We are changing the way we teach.

    One of the greatest challenges I face is dealing with the range of abilities and interests in classes. Using MOOCs to provide extension work, for credit, is helping me solve this problem.

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    1. David Groenewegen

      Librarian at Monash University

      In reply to Craig Savage

      The actual "failure of Udacity" is not in this article, but in one of the references it links to (although oddly as a comment on retention rates rather than failure as a teaching tool) : <http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/07/19/san_jose_state_suspends_udacity_online_classes_after_students_fail_final.html>;

      A "56 to 76 percent" failure rate across 5 courses! If that's that's not a failure, I don't know what is.

      Doesn't mean MOOCs can't work of course - but suggests that Udacity haven't solved it.

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  6. Marty Fletcher

    Senior Lecturer (Online Education) Griffith Business School

    If we follow the cognitive science evidence to learning we find the most consistently appearing independent variables we really need are previous experience (including socioeconomic) and time on task. Once we understand this, then we can see the path to 'opening' up opportunity to learn, at any scale. Also, we must avoid seeing openness as binary, it is actually a continuum.

    Thrun is an experienced teacher, but he was attempting something beyond his experience, a new experiment.

    Christensen…

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  7. John Barker
    John Barker is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University

    You raise some interesting issues, Jason, particularly when you say " There is growing tension between the science of learning and the art of teaching". Your reference to a Scientific American article only gave a few clues to the details of this tension.

    As an innovation theorist and practitioner I decided to enrol in an innovation MOOC course to directly experience what was being presented. It was every bit as bad as you describe, lacking clear definition and text was interspersed with dreary…

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  8. jason robert

    logged in via email @yahoo.com

    I think the article is alarmist and speculative. I completed a few courses at Udacity and at Coursera, and as a university graduate, I never expected to sign up for university level courses -- given the evaluation criteria and the short duration of the courses. Nevertheless, the quality of the instruction was comparable to what I experienced at a traditional university (UBC; McGill, in Canada). Besides, MOOC has only been around for less than two years !

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    1. Kathy Sutherland

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to jason robert

      I agree, I think we're too hung up on the "higher education" model. I don't want any more formal education - I've got my bits of paper.. I want to get some information about topics I'm interested in. I've completed MOOCs from Coursera, and other providers. The standard of tuition has been excellent. My lecturers included Dr Sue Alcock (Brown University) Dr Phil Currie (university of Alberta) and Prof Oded Lipschits (Tel Aviv University) - all highly regarded in their fields.

      So I do get a bit miffed when people dismiss MOOCs so easily. There even seems to be a snobbish element to it. In none of the MOOCs I've done has there been any suggestion that the course was intended to replace formal higher learning.

      Basically, I'm having a ball and learning lots in my courses.

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  9. Colin Farrelly

    Consultant

    Jason, 
    I agree with most of what you say, but I also think it's premature to cast doubt on the whole trend of MOOCs on the basis of one of them starting to charge for courses.  It's like saying that Wikis are on the decline because Wikipedia has to ask for donations.  I agree with Jonathan that the demise of Udacity (if that happens) may end up becoming like the impact of Napster on the music industry.  Perhaps we're just waiting for the Steve Jobs of education to come along and take the disruption…

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    1. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Colin Farrelly

      The UK Open University and many other universities such as UNE, Deakin, etc, have shown that asynchronous learning can work, but under restricted conditions: it is usually suitable only for mature students, and students need as much but different support as on campus students. Mooc boosters claimed to bypass all those careful conditions with technology.

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    2. Nick Fisher

      Programmer & Analyst, pt student

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      I have a lot of experience with distance education and I have to agree with Gavin, universities that specialize in distance or online education provide a lot more than MOOCs do. Firstly there is assessment - unless you pay someone to mark students work you are stuck with multiple choice tests (I actually like them as an aid to studying though, especially where the textbook publisher provides tests for each chapter, answering the questions as you do your reading certainly helps me focus). Without…

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    3. Geoff Sharrock

      Program Director, LH Martin Institute at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Colin Farrelly

      Colin, I agree with most of the points you make here, and on balance I disagree with the article's main line of argument.
      MOOC technology, once successfully adopted and adapted, still has potential to disrupt the HE sector and threaten at least some traditional institutions if they continue to rely too heavily on campus based business models. What we're still seeing with MOOCs is a 'Hype Cycle' - but thsi does not mean that all of the 'disruption' predictions are just hype, and nothing more.
      My overall take on the state of play, based on several recent reports on MOOCs and the potential for wider provision of high quality, low cost online study, is given at
      https://theconversation.com/from-moocs-to-harvards-will-online-go-mainstream-18093

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    4. Colin Farrelly

      Consultant

      In reply to Geoff Sharrock

      Geoff,
      Thanks for the reference - I was indeed thinking of the Gartner Hype Cycle when saying this topic is being over-hyped. I particularly liked the reference to this being "a very slow tsunami".

      One advantage of the hype is that it encourages a proliferation of variants that test out different business models, and Udacity charging for certified courses is just another attempt at finding a sustainability model. Most of these variants will not survive the "trough of disillusionment" - or as Geoffrey Moore calls is "crossing the chasm".

      So the ones that manage to climb the slope after the trough will be those that the market selects - and I don't think we can predict this disruption at this point in time. We're still on our way up the hype curve!

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    5. Geoff Sharrock

      Program Director, LH Martin Institute at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Colin Farrelly

      Thanks Colin, I agree. The rise of MOOC type programs will change the higher education landscape quite a lot, over time; but by how much and by when is just too hard to predict. The 'imminent-end-of uni-life-as-we-know-it' doomsday hype was never credible, but the current 'see-it-was-all-just-a-fad' backlash is not so credible either. The debate has swung between one-eyed MOOC evangelism and one-eyed MOOC denialism, while reality unfolds somewhere in between. I guess in 10 or 15 years we'll all know whose predictions were right about what's mainstream and what's niche in higher education. Personally, I predict a much more diverse education ecosystem where programs range from virtually free to super expensive, and 50 shades of blended learning emerging across all levels of education, not just in the tertiary education sector but also in primary and secondary schools.

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  10. Jim Moore

    Transport Planning Engineer

    So neither the lecturer employed at a university nor the university that contributes funding to The Conversation, stand to benefit from writing an article running down Udacity and MOOC's?! Obvious vested interests much?

    The author should consider his critical thinking ability if he can't see the glaring untruth of this disclaimer. And the university administration should be embarrassed by it and that the author representing them with such a poor example of critical thinking.

    And let's not get started on the several straw man arguments in the article itself. Goodness me, if this is the quality of writing allowed in The Conversation then I'll have to unsubscribe my recent subscription.

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    1. Terry Hilsberg

      Education startup investing

      In reply to Jim Moore

      As a commercial person, all I can say is please continue to think as per the above article and commentary.

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  11. Tom Fisher

    Editor and Proofreader

    This is the key question here, "why, when it comes to online education, did we ignore education experts, and listen to Silicon Valley instead?"

    The answer is, of course, that educators are already overloaded with work while IT geeks are constantly looking for something to do. Dominating IT media, they miss the point while at once distracting us into thinking they have "solutions" to something or other.

    What's being missed in all this, is that for anyone in the least tech-savvy, online technology is the easy bit. It does not take much mastery, especially for people with an education anyway. Thus, those who made it through already have a degree.

    If we are going to have online learning that works, like all learning far better to find a good teacher online and enroll with them rather than with some computer system somewhere.

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  12. Lydia Isokangas

    Australian

    Maybe Moocs have a high failure rate because a lot of people are taking them just to give it a try. Or maybe they're not even interested in completing the course - they just want to get an understanding on a particular part of the course and then they just stop participating. In the case of MOOCS perhaps the failure rate needs to be tempered by finding out how many students actually intend to complete the course.

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    1. Kathy Sutherland

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Lydia Isokangas

      What do you mean by "the high failure rate," Lydia? It's not a competition!
      You mention the reasons people take MOOCs. I think that is the crux of the matter. There's a huge variety of reasons: I've come across parents stuck at home with young children; people who can't get out because of chronic illness or disability; families learning together; experts in the field who want to learn more; retired people, such as myself, who want to keep learning.
      It's wrong to talk of failure. MOOCs should not be judged in the same way as formal learning, because they are not, and never have been, formal education. To keep discussing them in the same way as one would discuss formal higher education is quite insulting to those who enjoy MOOCs, and belittles the efforts of those educational institutions who choose to offer informal learning to anyone who wants it.

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    2. Lydia Isokangas

      Australian

      In reply to Kathy Sutherland

      Kathy I agree with you! That's why I talked about the different reasons people have for taking MOOCS - its not a failure for a participant to learn a little about astronomy, or statistics or any other topic without completing the whole course.

      As an aside, here in Finland MOOCS are incorporated into formal learning at many universities. Most Finnish universities tend to be small and don't offer all the courses that you might find in an Australian university. Many university departments have…

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    3. Kathy Sutherland

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Lydia Isokangas

      Thanks, Lydia, I will! Actually, your comment about Finland has made me think of another great point about MOOCs. There are many countries where there are few opportunities for learning - MOOCs have a part to play here.

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  13. Jeremy Berger

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Though the sentiment in this article is correct in terms of the disregard for effective teaching practices and modes of pedagogy, what about the millions in the developing world or in our own communities who haven't the chance to experience 'the best' form of time consuming and incredibly expensive teaching in our premier institutions. Users of sites like www.alison.com and Khan Academy often have absolutely no alternative means of education or obtaining skills to further their prospects and careers. Is there not benefit enough in providing FREE resources for the marginalised and the forgotten majority rather than focusing on the 1% yet again?

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  14. Gavin Moodie
    Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct professor at RMIT University

    Moocs may be valuable education for those with the aptitude and incentive to continue their self education, a look into the thinking or teaching of some great scholars, and a great opportunity for those without the resources for 'full service' higher education at a good university. The difficulty is that many have made far more extravagant claims for moocs.

    In a frequently quoted statement launching edX on 2 May 2012 its president Anant Agarwal said that ‘Online education for students around…

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    1. Kathy Sutherland

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Certainly those are impressive references, Gavin, but my point still stands. MOOCs are NOT formal courses. They're for anyone and everyone. Yes, they are often advertised as a "revolution" in education, or the "next thing," but they are not formal. The revolution is in providing information and guidance for those who want to learn - that's what's new. Whether people already have degrees, whether or not they complete the course is not relevant.

      I've got a couple of degrees, but not in archaeology, paleontology or biblical history, areas in which I've taken MOOCs.

      So don't judge MOOCs by ordinary standards. Perhaps you could take a MOOC course yourself? They're so much fun!

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    2. Craig Savage

      Professor of Theoretical Physics at Australian National University

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      I find it hard to believe that universities in 100 years will look much like they do now. For me the interesting question is the time scale for major change.

      Looking around I see changes in our everyday business happening faster than ever before in my quarter century as an academic. A big part of that is ICT: unprecedented access to information, machine learning, mobile platforms, etc.

      If not MOOCs, then some other internationalised, virtual structures look set to be an integral part of higher education. As this conversation demonstrates - for some they already are.

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    3. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Craig Savage

      Universities in 1650 and even 1550 were rather different from universities in 1450, but little of that difference was due to Gutenberg's invention of printing.

      Clearly information and communication technologies are changing the way research results are disseminated. Surely journals will no longer be printed soon, and even the idea of collecting papers into volumes and issues seems anachronistic. Perhaps dead tree journals will be replaced by, for example, authoritative web sites. But I would…

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    4. Craig Savage

      Professor of Theoretical Physics at Australian National University

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      I'm optimistic about machine learning technologies. They are already part of our lives. Services like Watson are set to provide high-level, high-stakes, professional advice. Why not personalised tutoring? Surely, this is where the well funded MOOC platforms, such as edx's, are heading.

      I look forward to being alive when machines can teach university physics better than I can. Actually, based on what I see around me, perhaps that's already true...

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    5. Kathy Sutherland

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      I think it's a mistake to keep talking about higher education and universities. MOOCs are about self-education.

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    6. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Kathy Sutherland

      Precisely: moocs (and other forms of asynchronous learning) are about self education. But most students enter university without being able to educate themselves. Indeed, arguably one of the roles of universities is develop dependent learners into independent learners. That is why I believe moocs are not disrupting universities' 'business models', altho of course Craig Savage's teaching machine would do just that.

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  15. Keith Brennan

    logged in via Twitter

    It's important to quantify the failure of Udacity. How has it failed, why, and what does that mean.

    The San Jose courses didn't fail the higher achieving students (when compared to their f2f counterparts). They achieved pass rates comparable to the f2f courses for this group.

    Where they failed was in serving the needs of those who would be classed as more vulnerable students, who consistently underperformed when it came to comparing them to their f2f counterparts, a characteristic that was…

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    1. Craig Savage

      Professor of Theoretical Physics at Australian National University

      In reply to Keith Brennan

      Outstanding insights Keith. Commentators sometimes forget that trial and error is a central methodology of innovation. Failures are inevitable and, as educators know, are essential for deep learning.

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    2. Keith Brennan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Craig Savage

      Hi Craig.

      That puts it succinctly. There's a lesson there for me.

      Trial and error is a central methodology. That's a huge part of where I was going.

      I'd also suggest that doing your homework first, and designing your experiment well is also a huge part - things Udacity fell down on.

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  16. Mitch Davies

    Student

    I think this article cherry-picks its points. I don't know about all that ironic Ivory Tower Re$earch on what is/isn't good education. I do know that coursera.org subjects I have completed have been at least as good as most subjects I have done at uni... better. Some subjects I have endured at uni have been dreadful... uninterested, unintelligible, un-contactable lecturers just going through the motions. To provide a more equal analysis of MOOCs vs. face-to-face would be worrying for many unis I guess.

    Product-centric, business growth focused MOOC will fail everytime. The customer-centric ones like coursera.org are right now (forget the theories!!) providing high quality subjects run by enthusiastic, innovative educators... I know, I've been there.

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    1. Gerry Roe

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mitch Davies

      Yes, I'd like to know what great pedagogical advantage there is in a student sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture, as opposed to a student sitting in front of a computer listening to a lecture. And in fact, what advantage does either have over reading a book? As Whitehead said in the 1920s, "Books are cheap, and the system of apprenticeship
      is well understood. So far as the mere imparting of information is concerned,
      no university has had any justification for existence since the popularisation…

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    2. Kelli McGraw

      Lecturer in English Curriculum Studies at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Mitch Davies

      I would answer that there is a wealth of research on what is/isn't good education...but that doesn't mean that all (many?) university teachers use it. Just because you didn't have a great experience at uni, doesn't mean that there isn't existing knowledge on how to do it better.

      The problem I see occurring is where both online and traditional classrooms RUSH to put together a curriculum in a race to gain some kind of market edge, and then FAIL to revise their systems based on student needs and feedback because money was only invested in course creation, not in course maintenance.

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    3. Kathy Sutherland

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Kelli McGraw

      Kelli, this seems to me to be more of the "strictly imparting knowledge" model. I think the important factor is students' experience. and it's pretty simple, really. Well-structured, informative and engaging courses will be successful, because students will keep coming back for more, as I did with Coursera and Open2study.
      If the course is badly structured and not interesting, people won't come back.

      Please don't compare MOOC's to universities. MOOCs are for people - anyone, young old, educated, formally educated or not, knowledge of the field or not - who want to get a little bit more knowledge. And you know what? MOOCs are fun!!!

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  17. Daniel S. Toma

    logged in via Facebook

    Each time I load the Udacity home page I see a blurb about a Udacity student who switched careers by taking a couple of Udacity courses and landing a job as a software developer. I look at job postings on Dice - and elsewhere on the internet - every day, and what I'm seeing is that [even] the most basic (the listing says "Entry Level") demands a fairly full set of hard skills. Naturally, this makes me wonder how someone can take a few online courses and get hired. I could imagine someone getting an unpaid internship, but even then there are lots of students already in college that can fill that need. Maybe I'm just grown too skeptical for my own good, but I'm definitely at the point in my life where I can't afford to drink the marketing kool-aid without first reading the ingredients.

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