Udacity, San Jose State, and Planning Questions

Get the complete book Thinking Strategically about MOOCs: The Role of Massive Open Online Courses in the College and University at Amazon in print or kindle version.

At this time, demographic data is inadequate.  Effective decision-making by campuses will require much better metrics and data. The preliminary work of observers like Belanger, Hill, and Jordan is useful, however, and will influence the development of projects analyzing enrollment and completion rates.

Udacity and San Jose State University, for example, are currently at work on a project demonstrating the potential of building data gathering directly into the delivery of MOOCs. In January 2013, they announced the joint creation and delivery of three introductory mathematics classes. For Udacity, a stated objective of the pilot is to investigate strategies to bolster retention by requiring participating SJSU students to have more “skin in the game” by paying $150 per credit (standard per-credit fees in the California state university system range from $450-$750). By framing these “MOOCs” in the context of commitment and reward, SJSU and Udacity hope to create a laboratory for defining metrics, establishing baselines, and measuring success. Such projects will help develop successful and scalable online programs with defined retention strategies. As more data on MOOCs is generated and compiled, campus leaders will have better decision-making tools regarding them.

Whether or not you are part of a large state university system or affiliated with an elite campus with whom providers like Coursera are willing to work, you need to develop an assessment plan to help you consider MOOCs as potential solutions to enrollment problems.

  • Update enrollment needs at your institution.
  • Determine your institutional ability to develop and deliver MOOCs.
  • Decide if you will work with external MOOC providers.
  • Consider working with an outside agency to develop a critical review of providers.
  • Work with faculty to define courses that are candidates for online teaching.
  • Define an inclusive approval process that involves your faculty.
  • Define financial aid eligibility as it applies to MOOCs.
  • Determine whether you will charge for course enrollments.
  • Determine how you will manage MOOC data in your student information systems.
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