Nearly half of all students arrive to college woefully unprepared academically. Now some colleges are looking to massively open online courses (MOOCs) to close the gap. The New York Times reports:
While [MOOCs] have enrolled millions of students around the world, most who enroll never start a single assignment, and very few complete the courses. So to reach students who are not ready for college-level work, or struggling with introductory courses, universities are beginning to add extra supports to the online materials, in hopes of improving success rates.
Various schools are offering a “blended approach” to students, a combination of traditional college classes and online coursework. San Jose State is working with Udacity to offer round-the-clock mentors who can assist students with their online courses. Other professors at the university combine classroom time with an online circuits course provided by edX, the Harvard/MIT online collaboration. Students at Boston’s Bunker Hill Community College have enrolled in the edX computer science course and are also required to attend a supplementary class at Bunker Hill twice a week.The approach seems to be working. Ninety-one percent of students enrolled in San Jose’s blended circuits class passed, as compared to 59 percent of students in the traditional class. Will it work? We don’t know yet, but at least they’re trying new things. Most universities provide little-to-no support to their students, a structure that reinforces class divides by particularly disadvantaging lower-income students, only 47 percent of whom manage to graduate within six years. These students disproportionately depend on student loans, so college dropouts from their ranks are faced with repaying their debt on a high school grad’s salary.