Online classes show promise, despite stumble

Monday, July 29, 2013

With the first semester of an experiment in online education over in mid-May and the second semester's courses in progress until Aug. 9, headlines across the country already pronounced the experiment a failure.

"San Jose State's big experiment with massive online courses fails massively"; "San Jose State University-Udacity experiment with online-only courses fizzles"; "After Weak Results, San Jose State Severs Udacity Partnership."

This rush to judgment was based on basic misunderstanding about the design of the pilot project and was deeply misguided. This project still deserves a chance.

As Gov. Jerry Brown said at the announcement of the experiment in January, California has three major challenges to confront. Only 16 percent of California State University students graduate in four years. Millions of young people with college aptitude aren't going to college. Even if they get to college, they have to take remedial English or math or repeat courses.

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