MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) were all the rage in higher education in the past year or two as thousands of students signed up for courses from MOOCs like edX, Coursera, and Udacity. However, the bloom has gone off the rose as the actual “graduation rate” – the percent of students who actually complete these courses remains in the low single digits.
But I was very interested in learning via the article Where Non-Techies Can Get With the Programming by that Udacity is tackling this problem.
Sebastian Thrun, the co-founder and chairman of Udacity, who is a former Stanford professor and Google scientist, said his company has found a way to improve the notoriously low completion rates for online courses. Add people.
Last year, the company started a service called Udacity Connect for face-to-face work with mentors on weekends, for $100 a month when added to any nanodegree program. “A self-service website is not enough,” Dr. Thrun said. “Having a human companion can have an enormous effect on finishing rates,” as much as tripling the chances of success.
This is one of the very few instances I have found where mentors are paid. Generally speaking, mentors for accelerators and incubators, even those run by for-profits like Y-Combinator and TechStars, do not compensate their mentors. (Though mentors do get an early look at promising startups and are encouraged to invest in them.)
It will be very interesting to see if indeed paid mentoring can actually have “an enormous effect on finishing rates.” If so there may be a new job category developed: mentors for MOOCs or MMOOCs.