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San Jose State partners with Silicon Valley startup for groundbreaking online courses
[January 15, 2013]

San Jose State partners with Silicon Valley startup for groundbreaking online courses

SAN JOSE, Jan 15, 2013 (The Oakland Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- San Jose State University will announce Tuesday the latest innovation in the rapidly changing world of online college education: for-credit courses, at $150 apiece, for high school, community college and San Jose State students.

The pilot project, a partnership with the Silicon Valley startup Udacity, will start small, with three courses and 100 students in each. The courses -- entry level mathematics, elementary statistics and college algebra -- were designed by San Jose State professors, but will use Udacity's online platform.

Udacity, a Palo Alto-based company started by three roboticists, is one of the leading providers of free online courses offered to anyone in the world with an Internet connection -- massive open online courses, or MOOCs. This venture, however, will allow students to earn college credits upon successful completion of the course.

"As the public university that sends 8,000 graduates annually into the Silicon Valley workforce, San Jose State University must and will take a leading role in leveraging technology to transform higher ed with the goal of making a college degree affordable and accessible to all," San Jose State President Mohammad Qayoumi said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

In a blog post published Tuesday morning, Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun wrote that this model would differ from the company's other products. "With this pilot, we will offer substantial services and instructor access for tuition-paying students. The objective is to increase success rates and enhance the learning outcomes for all students in the MOOC." The announcement will be made Tuesday at the San Jose State University campus. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to attend and weigh in on the development; Brown has pushed for such innovations in the state's university systems.

Meanwhile, the University of California has been developing its own online platform, which it built using a small foundation grant and a $6.9 million line of credit from the Office of the President. In addition to creating systemwide online courses for UC students, particularly in popular "gateway" classes, UC Online Education aimed to make money by selling for-credit courses to non-UC students.

However, UC's prices are much steeper: $2,100 for a semester course or $1,400 for a quarter course.

The market for high-priced, individually-sold courses hasn't materialized. So far, just five non-UC students have signed up for the newly launched courses.

Follow Katy Murphy at

___ (c)2013 The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.) Visit The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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