Udacity CEO Says MOOC ‘Magic Formula’ Emerging

Career College Central summary:

  • Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun believes vindication is at hand after weathering a round of negative publicity.
  • Formerly a Stanford University professor as well as the founder of the Google X Labs, Thrun co-founded Udacity in 2011 to explore the possibilities of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Thrun is claiming an early victory in Udacity's partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU) to offer $150 courses for which students would get credit for a passing grade, just as if they had attended on campus. The credit-bearing classes are much smaller, and in the latest round of classes the enrolled students got more tutoring and help.
  • Announced earlier this year with great fanfare and the backing of California governor Jerry Brown, the SJSU partnership was also the source of Udacity's biggest public relations headache, after the university decided in July to delay offering more courses with Udacity because of poor student pass rates in the spring semester. The results from the summer term, which was already in progress at the time of that announcement, are coming in, and Thrun says they show his company is on the right track.
  • Meanwhile, Udacity is gearing up to offer an affordable online master's degree in computer science in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, partially underwritten by AT&T as a means of recruiting employees with IT skills. Scheduled to launch in January, the program will cost students just $6,600.
  • Thrun said Udacity is creating "an online version of education that really works, that has great retention, great outcomes of education and really reaches people — not just the world's most motivated 1% — but can be made to work for many more people."

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