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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Georgia Tech Online Program Shows Promise

Low completion rates have been a stumbling block for massive open online courses (MOOCs). Studies have shown that just 5% of the thousands of students enrolled in the first MOOCs from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finished the courses, while another found the number of students now enrolling online is at its lowest rate in a decade.

However, good news may be on the horizon.

The online master’s degree program in computer science offered by Georgia Institute of Technology has gotten off to pretty solid start with 375 students enrolled in the first semester of the program. The average age of the students is 35, most are employed, and all are paying a fee.

Working students who pay a fee, which was estimated at less than $7,000 to complete the three-year program, could be the key to success for the program. Georgia Tech faculty and officials believe those two elements keep students more engaged in the class than traditional students on campus.

Of course, the program isn't “massive” with just 375 students, nor is it “open” because of the fee, according to Michael Feldstein, partner at the education consulting firm MindWires. But that doesn’t mean it can’t work.

“To be able to offer an online degree at the level of quality consistent with Georgia Tech at a lower cost would be an important innovation,” Feldstein told The Hechinger Report.

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