Now We’re Getting Revolutionary

Georgia Tech throws the first stone:

The Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a $7,000 online master’s degree to 10,000 new students over the next three years without hiring much more than a handful of new instructors.

Georgia Tech will work with AT&T and Udacity, the 15-month-old Silicon Valley-based company, to offer a new online master’s degree in computer science to students across the world at a sixth of the price of its current degree. The deal, announced Tuesday, is portrayed as a revolutionary attempt by a respected university, an education technology startup and a major corporate employer to drive down costs and expand higher education capacity.

Very exciting.

Udacity will receive 40 percent of the revenue from the new degree program, according to Georgia Tech, which will receive the rest. AT&T is subsidizing the effort financially to ensure that it will break even in its first year and is lending its name to the project

There will several kinds of students:

  1. 6,000 students who meet the minimum standards will be admitted.
  2. 2,000 students will take the courses but not be interested in the degree. Not clear whether these meet any standards.
  3. 2,000 studnets who do not meet the minimum standards (GRE) who “do well in two core classes”. How do they take those core classes if they aren’t admitted? Well, they’re drawn from…
  4. the unlimited number of students who can take the MOOC-version of the course with no instructor support and no real degree at the end.

Students will be assisted by instructors from Georgia Tech and Udacity employees who handle more run-of-the-mill questions:

Galil and Thrun both said that Udacity-paid staffers could answer most of the questions students in the courses come up with.

“In many cases, the questions are simple. In many cases these questions can be found in FAQs, even though students don’t find them in FAQs,” Galil said.

Thrun said there’s no reason to make a professor answer the same question 200 times for 200 students. He said his staff will free up Georgia Tech instructors to do more difficult work.

Oh, and everyone is getting paid. Welcome to the future!

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