Udacity: Online pass rates are up

San Jose State suspended its partnership with Udacity due to low pass rates in for-credit online courses. Pass rates improved significantly in the summer term, exceeding on-campus pass rates in statistics, algebra and programming, but falling short in psychology and entry-level math.

Most faculty members are skeptical of online courses, especially MOOCS, but those who’ve tried teaching online are more positive, a new survey shows.

An online path to a low-cost 4-year degree

A California community college is partnering with out-of-state universities to offer an online path to low-cost bachelor’s degrees.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Faced with a $15 million budget deficit and the threat of losing accreditation, City College of San Francisco will return more than 60 faculty department chairs to full-time teaching.

The ship’s sinking! Call the committee!

City College of San Francisco could  lose accreditation and close this spring, because nobody’s in charge under California’s “shared governance” model. Forty-six faculty committees develop policies that must be approved by an executive council — or a ful faculty vote.

Remediating remedial ed

Remedial college classes are dead ends for most students — at a cost of $3 billion a year.

What’s your least favorite buzzword at the faculty meeting?

UC may offer all-online degree

University of California leaders want to offer an online bachelor’s degree comparable in quality to its prestigious campus programs, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We want to do a highly selective, fully online, credit-bearing program on a large scale – and that has not been done,” said UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley, who is leading the effort.

But a number of skeptical faculty members and graduate student instructors fear that a cyber UC would deflate the university’s five-star education into a fast-food equivalent, cheapening the brand. Similar complaints at the University of Illinois helped bring down that school’s ambitious Global Campus program last fall after just two years.

Tomorrow, UC regents  will hear about a pilot program of 25 to 40 courses, which will be developed if UC can raise $6 million from private donors. In the short term, the university needs alternatives to crowded writing and math classes. In the long term, Edley hopes to expand access to a UC education, collect more tuition money and spend less per student.

The model is Stanford University’s online graduate engineering degree, which is highly respected and open to students who never set foot in California.

“Within 30 minutes of a class being taught at Stanford, we’re able to offer it around the world,” said Andy DiPaolo, senior associate dean at the School of Engineering. “We think in many ways it’s comparable (in quality). “

Stanford uses the same admissions process and requirements for online and traditional degrees.

A Berkeley Faculty Association report knocked the online plan:

“The danger is not only degraded education, but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum,” it said. “It is also likely that the whole thing will be a boondoggle.”

Furthermore, the report said, online instruction is “inappropriate for many subjects and types of learning.”

UC Online needs a “coalition of the willing,” Edley said, “not universal support.”

UC shouldn’t rush into cyber-education, write a coalition of unwilling professors in the Chronicle. Doing it well requires a lot of money — with no guarantee that the education will match the “face-to-face dialogue that is the hallmark of university education.”

UC’s online efforts should focus on serving California students who hope to transfer to the university, not on marketing the “UC Brand” across the globe, the professors argue. A global UC “would require outsourcing teaching to part-timers who are not researchers, resulting in a decline in quality for those students who are our primary responsibility.”

Furthermore, “simply to extract bits of teaching and put them online out of context would sever the links between teaching and research that make UC special.”