Are MOOCs profitable? Udacity seems to say “no”.

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Sebastian Thrun is the well known Silicon Valley genius behind the creation of “Stanley”, the self-driving car that won Stanford University a $2,000,000 prize from the U.S. Department of Defense a few years ago.  That led to Google’s hiring of Thrun, where he “drove” (pun intended) the creation of Google Street View, and Google’s self-driving cars that today roam around the streets of the San Francisco Bay area.

Thrun went on to found Udacity, a company dedicated to delivering courses online to very large numbers of students and severely discounted prices.  Many say this is the origin of the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOCs, as they are now known.

But Thurn has run into a problem.  MOOCs aren’t working as he’d hoped.

FastCompany.com published a great piece about Thurn on November 14 titled Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun, Godfather Of Free Online Education, Changes Course, and it’s fascinating, you should read it.  In short:

  • The data shows that students don’t complete MOOCs in sufficient numbers to make the model profitable
  • Udacity is finding profitability in partnering with private industry to deliver courses that industry wants for its business.  The goal may be recruitment or employee training, or both.

The full article is here:  http://www.fastcompany.com/3021473/udacity-sebastian-thrun-uphill-climb

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