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Higher Education:
Online Classes Launched at San Jose State University

In what could be the beginning of a major change in the delivery of higher education courses, San Jose State University is partnering with Udacity, a Palo Alto-based company, to put classes for college credit online, beginning January 30. Three entry-level math courses – pre-algebra, algebra and statistics – will be offered. The cost will be $150 for administration and bookkeeping.

Higher education has basically been using a 19th century model of lectures and classroom attendance as the education delivery system. In the 21st century, with information on the Internet and the ability to provide instruction online, there is the prospect of better education at less cost to students and taxpayers.

Governor Jerry Brown was present at a January 15 press conference to laud the start of this experiment. He said the new programs are "part of the solution" to the problem of overcrowded classes.

Mo Qayoumi, president of San Jose State and a driving force behind the partnership, said he hopes the result will be a "game-changer." He had discussed the potential of online courses during a meeting with San Jose Stat alumni in Sacramento in September, as well.

San Jose State professors designed the courses using Udacity's online platform and technical expertise. At their own pace, students will watch videos and take interactive quizzes, and they will have mentors checking in on them and setting up study sessions with other students, said Ellen Junn, San Jose State's provost.

The classes are open not only to students enrolled at San Jose State, but to high school students who will earn college credit, waitlisted students at California community colleges who otherwise would face out-of-state or private options, members of the armed forces, and veterans.

President Qayoumi added: "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."

(Sources: San Jose State press release, January 15; San Jose Mercury News, January 16; and San Francisco Chronicle, January 16.)

January 18, 2013
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