This past spring, Cerego had the unique opportunity to supplement a MOOC with our adaptive learning technology through a Jazz Appreciation course at the University of Texas at Austin. The intent of this collaboration was to meaningfully enhance the online learning experience, reimagining the notion of both standardized testing and summative assessment.

Our very own Andrew Smith Lewis published a post on Medium today, detailing the collaboration from an inside perspective.

Cerego’s maiden voyage into a MOOC environment came through direct collaboration with Dr. Jeff Hellmer, Professor of Jazz Studies at the Butler School of Music at UT Austin (and a remarkable jazz musician in his own right). The core of our mission was determining an effective way to deliver Jazz Appreciation online. Our final course would be hosted on the edX platform, which currently supports more than 2.6 million learners in over 200 courses.

More often than not, the conceptual and theoretical knowledge presented in MOOCs is delivered via pre-recorded video lectures, which thousands of enrolled students watch before completing writing exercises, short quizzes, peer-reviewed papers, and summative assessments. Arguably less interactive than a live discussion or small classroom, many MOOCs see dropout rates peak above 95% over the course of a semester. Keep in mind, however, that the average enrollment for a MOOC is 43,000, meaning that MOOCs are still able to retain an average of over 2,000 students per course.

The factors that impede a student’s completion of a MOOC are certainly varied and diverse — many students balance online learning with a family, job, or other coursework. Holding their attention over the course of a semester can be challenging. We wanted to better engage learners during the time they did log in, and put a dent in overall attrition.

Good jazz players derive their skill from an ability to improvise and innovate — not so far removed from the improvisational agility that characterizes good technology. Like a jazz quartet composing on a shared bass-line, we rolled up our sleeves and reimagined the learning experience…

Read the rest of Andrew’s post on Medium here. If you’re interested in hearing more, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at We’d love to hear from you!