The Weirdest Excuse Udacity Gave

From Thrun’s blog, explaining why the Udacity approach didn’t work well for SJSU:

The traditional-semester pacing of the classes didn’t work well with the lifestyles and time-demands of the students in the program. In fact, 30% of our students worked 30+/hours per week in addition to coursework. Another 40% worked at least part-time. Work, families, other classes, and high school schedules demand a more innovative approach to pacing and we’re committed to figuring that out with SJSU over the fall.

Thrun has been telling us how he is going to revolutionize education for a couple years now. Yet last week was the first time he learned that students work substantial hours while going to school. His education on this issue isn’t quite complete, because he still thinks this is some weird “nontraditional” behavior. Eventually one hopes he’ll go into the NCES data to find out his “nontraditional” student is not that far from the median student at a state institution.

Interestingly, his reaction to finding out students work is to complain that you can’t possibly teach working students in math in as short a time as a semester. (!!)

5 thoughts on “The Weirdest Excuse Udacity Gave

  1. Methinks that teaching at Stanford he was not teaching the same demographic I’m teaching at Univ. of Oklahoma… much less the students in the Udacity/SJSU experiment. Probably the single biggest motivation for my students in enrolling in an online course is time constraints. On the one hand, it’s great when the flexible scheduling in my courses can help students complete a course they would not have managed to complete in a traditional classroom setting (and I put a high premium on flexible scheduling but a steady workload in my classes), but I also worry when I see students who are so totally overloaded that their success in my class will inevitably come at a cost somewhere else in their time budget. Luckily, my classes are story-oriented, and I encourage parents to pick a project for class that will be of interest as bedtime story material to share with their children! Some of them even include their children as characters in the Storybooks they write for class, which I think is super. 🙂

  2. Any way or method that facilitates learning, especially through low cost and is readily accessible, should be strongly encouraged and promoted. Anyone who opposes that is doing so on selfish, narrow interests and not for the common good. Please let’s all try to rise above ourselves. Regards.

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