A research-based report of the results of SJSU’s Spring 2013 pilot of lower-level mathematics courses offered via Massive Open Online Course platform (though I do like the term Augmented Online Learning Environment, or AOLE) has arrived — or at least a preliminary version. Dubbed “Project Lessons Learned” by the research team, the results are pretty much in-line with anecdotal expectations as well as the buzz coming from SJSU: at-risk students w/o a strong background in higher education or the subject matter fared poorly, while students w/ a strong background in higher education and/or the subject matter did better. This is not new to those critical of MOOCs as an agent of democratizing global education, and the (for lack of a better term) bellyaching that came from Udacity in regards to student population continues to ring hollow, as globally more students share characteristics with the unsuccessful demographic.
Udacity’s response is also expected, highlighting success and mitigating struggle.
All of this comes in the shadow of Udacity’s private-private education partnership, the Open Education Alliance. How will Udacity utilize its successes and failures in developing an open education model? Also, how many more education terms can Udacity co-opt? The original MOOC definition was for a learning model rather different from today’s cultural understanding of MOOC, and Open Education/Open Access as a theory and practice (with distinct roots in the early part of the century, and a history well before that) does not, at first glance, look like Udacity’s vision.