Flipped Classrooms and MOOCs still are hot topics and popular in the higher education and technology websites. Certainly in the time since the big entrepreneurial opportunities like Udacity and EdX sprang up something should have been learned. What have we learned in the 3 years since Sebastian Thrun put his AI course online for all to register for and take for a semester? Are we closer to understanding the cost and return of adopting this format for online education? The jury is still out but the doubts are there.
Editor’s note: Dan Friedman is the co-founder of Thinkful.
Three years ago this week, Sebastian Thrun recorded his Stanford class on Artificial Intelligence, released it online to a staggering 180,000 students, and started a “revolution in higher education.” Soon after, Coursera, Udacity and others promised free access to valuable content, supposedly delivering a disruptive solution that would solve massive student debt and a struggling economy. Since then, over 8 million students have enrolled in their courses.
This year, that revolution fizzled. Only half of those who signed up watched even one lecture, and only 4 percent stayed long enough to complete a course. Further, the audience for MOOCs already had college degrees so the promise of disrupting higher education failed to materialize. The MOOC providers argue that completion of free courses is the wrong measure of success, but even a controlled experiment run by…
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