PandoDaily on Thinkful: "Carving out a niche between MOOCs and expensive schools, with retention rates to prove it"

The problem with MOOCs? Most people don’t complete them. Read PandoDaily’s article on how we’ve found a way to combat that problem by combing the flexibility of an online course with the support and rigor of an offline bootcamp.

“So on the high end, you have in-person classrooms. On the other side of the spectrum you have free sites. In the middle is a fairly young startup called Thinkful. Launched last year, the company’s classes are a blend of the MOOC and the traditional school model.

Thinkful classes are not free — they cost $300 a month for a three month course, which is enough to be a commitment but still cheaper than a full-time class with physical classrooms. To keep students motivated and engaged, each student is assigned a mentor who is available for daily discussions and questions. Thinkful currently employs 35 mentors for its first class on front end Web development. Each mentor has between two and 15 students.

The result is a retention rate that is ten times higher than MOOCs, according to CEO and co-founder Darrell Silver. The company measures retention by a “graduation rate,” which requires students to reach proficiency in every topic studied. Between 70 and 85 percent of Thinkful’s students graduate from its front end web development course, compared with a MOOC completion rate of 7 percent. (As I mentioned above, I’ve seen reports of MOOC completion rates hitting 10 to 15 percent, but it is a hotly contested figure and studies vary.)”

Read the rest of the story here.