Udacity’s MOOC Contract Details: Lesson in Audacity? (And then there is GlaxoSmithKline’s invitation to UCLA faculty)

Inside Higher Ed today is running a feature on a contract between MOOC supplier Udacity and Georgia Tech to run a master’s program in computer science.  The essence of the story is that the contract calls for some of the folks actually running the course to be company employees:

…Georgia Tech this month announced its plans to offer a $6,630 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 and Udacity, a Silicon Valley-based startup, will work with AT&T, which is putting up $2 million to heavily subsidize the program’s first year. The effort, if it succeeds, will allow one of the country’s top computer science programs to enroll 20 times as many students as it does now in its online master’s degree program, and to offer the degree to students across the world at a sixth of the price of its existing program… An internal faculty report generated by professors in the College of Computing says there were “significant internal disagreements,” despite Georgia Tech’s portrayal of the deal as heavily supported by faculty.Interviews and documents also suggest that the full Georgia Tech Academic Senate had little chance to review the deal, which was negotiated at a “rapid pace,” according to the minutes of one faculty committee meeting. Many professors were unaware of the plans until they were announced at the end of the term…

Details, details:

And talking of things audacious, all UCLA faculty members received an email last week telling them NOT TO respond to an invitation by pharma firm GlaxoSmithKline to sign up for research grants through a new company process – which apparently circumvents UCLA’s procedures.  More details about that episode are at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/05/28/ucla-tells-professors-not-apply-major-new-pharmaceutical-grant.