Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pass rates up for online classes at San Jose State – Los Angeles Times

In new results released Wednesday, 83% of summer students in elementary statistics earned a C or better compared with 50.5% of those in the spring; and 72.6% of summer college algebra students made the grade compared with 25.4% of those in the spring.

The pass rates for remedial math improved somewhat, reaching nearly 30% for summer students compared with 24% for those in the spring.

Students in two new summer classes also fared well, with 67% earning a C or better in general psychology and 70% achieving that level in computer programming.

Officials said they were encouraged by the developments, especially after the disappointing spring results raised a host of critical questions about the highly watched project with Udacity, a Mountain View-based online course provider. Each of the for-credit classes cost $150 with no state or federal support.

For right or wrong, online education is seen by many as a money-saver that will allow greater access to California’s public colleges and universities.

Many observers of the San Jose effort suggested that pressure from such supporters as Gov. Jerry Brown resulted in a hastily assembled project and unprepared students. In addition, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose foundation is helping to fund the project, was intent on including math classes.

Udacity and the San Jose campus announced jointly in July that they were pulling the classes for the fall to fine-tune many aspects of the project.

Critics were ready to declare the online experiment a failure too early and did not understand how innovation works, said Udacity co-founder and Chief Executive Sebastian Thrun.

“The way these new ideas work is that it takes multiple iterations before you get there,” Thrun said in an interview. “It’s not perfect and we have a lot to learn, but I’m happy about it.”

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A major factor in the differing results was the makeup of the students themselves, Thrun said. Less than half of the spring group was enrolled in San Jose State; many taking the classes were local high school students from low-income areas. Of the 2,091 students who enrolled in summer classes, 71% were from other states or foreign countries and about 11% were enrolled in one of Cal State’s 23 campuses.

More students dropped out of the summer classes than the spring after officials relaxed the rules for withdrawing. The overall retention rate dropped to about 60% for the summer classes compared with 83% for the spring.

San Jose State instructors also retooled their approach for summer students, being more upfront about expectations and doing more to engage students, said Provost Ellen Junn.

Cay Horstmann, a computer science professor who designed the introduction to programming course, said the online format was a good fit for the class, which is always in demand and must turn away students.

However, he said, about 15,000 other students who didn’t pay or receive credit participated on the Udacity platform, which clogged up the discussion board for the enrolled students.

Further, he said that he and his colleagues sometimes had to resist attempts by Udacity to overly simplify course material and hand out answers so that students wouldn’t get frustrated.

The final grades mirrored those of students on campus, he said.

“It was a great experience and I would hope it would continue,” said Horstmann.

Online Classes Boost Saint Francis Enrollment – Inside INdiana Business (press release)


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August 28, 2013

News Release

Fort Wayne, Ind. — At a Wednesday convocation and Mass, the University of Saint Francis (USF) announced record fall first-day enrollment, including a 20 percent increase in new students. The rise follows a record number of graduates this past May. The announcement came as part of the universitys official opening to the academic year.

According to figures given by university President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, the university is welcoming 2,405 total learners, with 805 new students. The two percent growth from last years 2,360 first-day enrollment is largely attributable to online courses in the College of Adult Learning, in addition to generous financial aid packages to direct out of high school students, competitive pricing and placement success.

“With nearly 200 students enrolled in the Virtual Campus for the semester, the University of Saint Francis continues to make education accessible for working adults,” said Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, J.P. Spagnolo. “Whether students are seeking an associate, bachelor or master degree, we have options to allow adults to meet their educational goals. Our programs are the right combination of high quality curriculum and continuous support to ensure success. That combination is allowing us to attract more adult students who understand the value a University of Saint Francis degree has in the job market.”

Multiple fully online degrees, including the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Master of Business Administration, offer a range of expertise to prepare graduates for emerging and thriving professions.

The university plans to add to its accelerated programs to attract adult learners who already have some college credit and are looking to finish a degree. A competitive pricing structure and a process to earn credit for prior learning makes the Virtual Campus an attractive option for busy adults balancing work and family obligations.

Interest in new options such as the universitys two- and four-year dance programs in collaboration with the Fort Wayne Ballet, and the fastest-growing program, the Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science, have also fueled enrollment.

Enrollment has also been strong at the Crown Point campus, increasing three percent with the addition of the Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technician and Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies.
The provision of financial aid to 100 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduate students also helped to attract direct out of high school students. This year, the university will award over $14 million in institutional aid, according to the Financial Aid Office. In 2012-2013, average tuition after university, state and federal gift aid was $10,202 for full-time undergraduatesa figure competitive with public institutions. Of Indianas 31 private, non-profit colleges and universities, USF ranks in the bottom third on cost to attend.

The university’s reputation for student and instructional excellence is paying off for graduates. Ninety-four percent of 2012 bachelor degree graduates responding to the university’s employment survey reported employment or full-time enrollment in a higher education program within six months of graduation. Co-op job opportunities prepare students to join companies after graduation or enter the workforce prepared to contribute on day one. Academic rigor and the incorporation of Catholic, Franciscan values into courses have led to graduates reported by many employers as their best hires.

During the convocation, President Kriss detailed news of the past academic year and plans and goals for the new year.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend officiated at the mass for the traditional opening of the school year.

The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs through the School of Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Creative Arts. The universitys College of Adult Learning designs focused curriculum for working adults by offering online and accelerated programs, through its Virtual, Fort Wayne and Crown Point campuses. More than 2,300 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence.

Source: University of Saint Francis

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6 free online classes anyone can take – KSDK



Jasmine Barta, USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent

Some college students love learning for the sake of learning.

But elective classes, however interesting and engaging, don’t count toward a major, and students might have to forgo the fun classes in favor of a degree.

For the students who didn’t get to explore all the subjects they wanted before graduation or just want to continue their education, perhaps it’s time to look at your online options.

Free online classes, open to the public, are growing more popular and extensive. They are offered through many websites and universities, including Harvard, Yale and Duke.

These classes, which cover nearly every subject and have various formats, are ideal for anyone with a love for learning but not the funds or grades needed to get a top-rate education.

Here are six unique, inspiring and beneficial classes anyone can take in their spare time — free of charge!

Entrepreneurship – From Idea to Launch
This class is offered by Udemy, a website that has a wide variety of free online courses, from sports to music to languages. This course is composed of more than 32 lectures and 10 exercises.

The class “provides a series of lectures that can guide an aspiring entrepreneur through the steps that will greatly increase their chances for successfully turning their idea into a successful business.”

Personal Finance
This eight-class Missouri State University course can be found on both iTunes U and YouTube though Open Culture, a site that allows you to search for free online classes by topic, then directs you to all available formats. The class is composed of videos and covers topics such as personal saving, credit and retirement planning.

Designing Your Life
This class is offered by MIT OpenCourseWare. The site explains that virtually all of the content from every class at the university is offered there. Designing Your Life is intended to provide an “exciting, eye-opening, and thoroughly useful inquiry into what it takes to live an extraordinary life, on your own terms” and “address what it takes to succeed, to be proud of your life, and to be happy in it.” This class includes lecture notes, assignments and other downloadable course material.

This course offered by Yale may sound morbid, but at some point, we all think about what happens when we pass. This philosophy class explores the possibilities. The course examines concepts such as death not being the end of our journey, how knowing we will eventually die should affect the way we live and the different attitudes toward death. The videos are offered through both YouTube and iTunes U, and the course pages can be downloaded.

Useful Genetics
This class is offered by Coursera and is a bit different than most. Coursera classes begin on specific dates — just like online classes you would take at a university — and last for a specific length of time. The course description says it is meant to create a sense of community with others taking the class. This specific class is being offered on Nov. 1 and May 1. The Useful Genetics course is designed to deliver a college-level understanding of how genes function and the role of inheritance, as well as tackling questions such as “Is there a gay gene?” and “Do different races have the same genes?”

Food preparation in the home
This free, online class offered by BYU is good for those who want to improve their skills in the kitchen. You can start the class at any time, and it is very interactive. The course is meant to help you “understand food in relation to health, develop skills in buying and preparing foods” and teach you to “practice safe handling, storage and preservation of foods.”

Degrees may not be free, but learning can be.

Jasmine Barta is junior at Arizona State University.