Saturday, April 28, 2012

EpCoP Learnspace for the e-Portfolio MOOC

MOOC Benefits for International Learners - An Overview

Top U.S. Colleges to Offer Free Classes Online

2012-04-18  / By Stephanie Simon

(Reuters) - Five prestigious U.S. universities will create free online courses for students worldwide through a new, interactive education platform dubbed Coursera, the founders announced Wednesday.

The two founders, both professors of computer science at Stanford University, also announced that they had received $16 million in financing from two Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

Coursera will offer more than three dozen college courses in the coming year through its website at, on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to neurology, from calculus to contemporary American poetry. The classes are designed and taught by professors at Stanford, Princeton, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan.


Founders Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng say Coursera will be different because professors from top schools will teach under their university's name and will adapt their most popular courses for the web, embedding assignments and exams into video lectures, answering questions from students on online forums -- even, perhaps, hosting office hours via videoconference.

Multiple-choice and short-answer tests will be computer scored. Coursera will soon unveil a system of peer grading to assess more complex work, such as essays or algorithms.

Students will not get college credit. But Coursera may offer "certificates of completion" or transcripts for a fee. [snip].


...  30,000 people from around the globe stuck with the class week after week, doing the homework, watching the lectures and chatting with one another in lively discussion forums. "It's awesome," Page said. He has calculated that it would take 150 years of teaching in person for him to reach as many people as he did online.

A course Ng taught in artificial intelligence was just as popular: Nearly 25,000 students completed most of the work - and 13,000 scored high enough to earn a "statement of accomplishment" from Stanford. [snip].

The concept does have pitfalls.

There's no way for professors to tell who is completing the work, so "doors are wide open for cheating," said Michael Winckler, a mathematician at Heidelberg University who took Page's course on models. [snip].

Still, Winckler was impressed enough with the quality and rigor of the online class to let his doctoral students count it toward their required coursework.

As online education matures, students may be able to build their own first-rate college education for free through sites like Coursera, said Richard DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Institute of Technology.


But Phil Hanlon, a provost at the University of Michigan, said he wasn't worried the free offerings would cut into his school's appeal. On the contrary, he said the technology would enhance the campus experience. Professors could direct students to watch online lectures to learn the nuts and bolts of a given subject, freeing class time for hands-on activities that can't be replicated in cyberspace, he said.


Source and Fulltext Available At 


MOOCs: Two Different Approaches to Scale, Access and Experimentation

Posted on April 27, 2012 by Phil Hill

In part 1 of this series, I described a new landscape of educational delivery models. In part 2 I described the master course concept and how it presents a cultural barrier that most traditional institutions cannot cross, at least without a dedicated online organization or an outsourced partnership.

Why does it matter that we describe these educational delivery models with finer granularity than just traditional and online? Because the aims of the models differ, as do the primary methods of how these models are created and delivered.

With all of the recent interest in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), it would be worth summarizing the two branches of MOOCs including recent posts or interviews by the founders of the concept.

Scale and Access

[snip]. MOOCs represent an alternate approach where the actual course itself provides scale, allowing essentially unlimited enrollment in the single course section in the manner of a large apartment building.

History of Both Branches in the Words of the Founders

Clark Quinn posted a nice summary of the two different branches of MOOCs.

The Stanford model ...  features a rigorous curriculum of content and assessments, in technical fields like AI and programming. The goal is to ensure a high quality learning experience to anyone with sufficient technical ability and access to the Internet. Currently, the experience does support a discussion board, but otherwise the experience is, effectively, solo.

The connectivist MOOCs, on the other hand, are highly social. The learning comes from content presented by a lecturer, and then dialog via social media, where the contributions of the participants are shared. Assessment comes from participation and reflection, without explicit contextualized practice.

MOOCs were first implemented in 2007 / 2008. The early history is described quite nicely in the following posts, all by the founders of  Rhizomatic MOOC concept (also called Distributed, Proto or Connectivist).

  •  March 5 “MOOCs for the win!” – George Siemens starts by describing the two branches of MOOCs and summarizes much of the recent conversation online. He then gives his views on where we are and how MOOCs are still an experiment.
  •  April 8 “A review of rhizomatic learning in Mendeley” – Dave Cormier, while not directly discussing MOOCs, describes his perspective on rhizomatic learning.
  •  April 23 “The Rise of MOOCs” - Stephen Downes shares his answers to an interview that gives some of the key background on the 2008 “watershed” moment of Siemens / Downes’ CCK08 course. Stephen also describes the creation of the Stanford branch of MOOCs as well as sharing his personal objective in pursuing MOOCs.
  •  April 24 “Wishing I Understood” – David Wiley, whose web site tag line is “pragmatism over zeal”, questions some of Stephen’s objectives and wonders if he understands this correctly. David then shares his thoughts on experts and empowerment.
  •  April 25 “Proto-MOOCs Rock!” – Jim Groom calls attention to a well-written article by Steve Kolowich, and then calls out Steve’s article and summarizes his thoughts.

The most press recently, however, has been based on the Stanford branch of MOOCs, started with the Artificial Intelligence course in 2011.


Future of MOOCs

To understand the future of MOOCs, I think it’s important to consider these two observations.

  •  The two current branches of MOOCs are different and will not merge – despite the common name, they have different aims and methods. It is a mistake, in my opinion, to overlook the differences.
  •  Both branches are early prototypes or pilots. The future of MOOCs will be based on further developing the concepts and techniques – we should not expect massive adoption until future generations of MOOCs evolve. As George stated:

It is important to realize that MOOCs are not (yet) an answer to any particular problem. They are an open and ongoing experiment. They are an attempt to play with models of teaching and learning that are in synch with the spirit of the internet. As with any research project, it is unlikely that they will be adopted wholesale in traditional universities. Most likely, bits and pieces will be adopted into different teaching models.

The quick emergence of the MOOC concept is quite significant for educational technology. In less than 5 years, and entirely new approach to provide cost-effective scale and access has emerged, and the next generation or two of MOOCs could lead to significant new options in higher education. In my opinion, the critical piece for MOOCs to be “an answer to [a] particular problem”  is either badges or accreditation acceptance.

Source and Fulltext Available At

The Master Course: A Key Difference in Educational Delivery Methods

Posted on by Phil Hill

Why does it matter that we describe these educational delivery models with finer granularity than just traditional and online? Because the aims of the models differ, as do the primary methods of how these models are created and delivered.

To show an example of how the methods differ, let’s look at one of the most significant, but overlooked, concepts in this landscape – the master course. This concept of the master course changes the educational delivery methods of an institution, and in my opinion is the real differentiator between traditional institutions and for-profit institutions (both blended and fully online) and even non-profit fully-online organizations.

Master Course as Method for Scale and Access

For the past century in higher education, the core concept of course design is that an individual faculty member, or occasionally a small team of faculty members, designs and delivers each course. There may be some guidelines and policies from the institution, but after initial review of the course objectives and design, the course belongs to the faculty designing and teaching it. While there are many benefits to this model, there is a key challenge to consider.

How do you cost-effectively scale the course or program to provide greater access to more students given the explicit connection between course and faculty?


The master course concept changes the assumptions on who owns the course, and it leads to different processes to design, deliver and update courses that just don’t exist in traditional education. The implications of this approach or concept are significant. Because of these differences, there is in reality an institutional barrier that very few institutions can cross.

How do institutions that want to provide scale and access deal with this barrier? There appears to be three primary methods based on the current landscape.

Separate Organizations: Put Someone Else Across the Barrier

The most common method over the past decade or two has been for separate organizations to be created that will implement the master course concept.

The majority of for-profit organizations – at least the medium and large for-profits that operate at scale – are based on this concept, whether using online courses or even blended / hybrid courses.

There are non-profit organizations that have delivered online programs at scale, of course, but these have tended to be entirely new organizations within a higher education system. These new online organizations fit within the overall system governance, but the operations, budgets and academic oversight are provided by these unique organizations. [snip].

Many of the failures of traditional institutions or statewide systems to successfully create, grow and sustain online programs can be traced to organizational resistance from the rest of the system to the separate online organization.

Outsourcing or Partnerships: A Bridge Over the Barrier

Another approach is to outsource to or partner with another organization who already has experience and capabilities to implement a master course concept and the associated operations, while providing these courses through the traditional institution.

Western Governors University has succeeded lately in becoming the partner to build or provide online programs for state systems in Indiana, Washington and Texas. [snip]

There is also a burgeoning industry built around outsourced, for-profit service providers – companies that can outsource the curriculum and course development, as well as the operations, of an online program. This new category is called School as a Service, and some market estimates indicate future compound annual growth rates of 30%. [snip].

MOOCs: Move the Barrier

Perhaps the approach that is generating the most interest lately has been the Massively Openly Online Course (MOOC). In one version – typified by MITx, Stanford, Udacity and Udemy – the course itself is scaled to enable thousands of students to take the course from the faculty members who both design and lead the course. This design process can include a full instructional design team, but to date the scale of the course replaces the master course concept. In other words, this approach provides the scale and access without resorting to a master course concept.

Source and Fulltext Available At 


The Emerging Landscape of Educational Delivery Models

Posted on by Phil Hill

Traditional education or online education. In the past decade it seems that the dominant conversation has been around the potential for online learning, both from for-profit and non-profit options, to disrupt education as an industry.

[snip]. What does this emerging landscape of educational delivery models look like?

While I do not claim to be able to solve this problem, I would like to offer a more descriptive view than the dichotomy of traditional and online education describes.

There is a growing number of models on how to deliver education effectively, which is natural given the investment and interest in fixing or disrupting education ... . [snip].

... [H]ere’s one list of models, followed by a view of how they differ in terms of course design and the channel by which information is created and transmitted:

  • Traditional Non-Profit Face-to-Face Programs
  • Non-Profit Online Programs
  • For-Profit, Both Face-to-Face and Online Programs
  • Competency-Based
  • Open Education Practices
  • Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs
  • Flipped Classroom


Source and Fulltext Available At 


Friday, April 27, 2012

MITx: What the Students Think

From Buenos Aires to Honolulu to Montreal, a virtual community grows up around the online initiative’s prototype course.

What’s it like taking a course with 120,000 other students? 

That is one of the questions raised this spring by the debut of MITx, the Institute’s new online educational initiative. The first offering — a course dubbed 6.002x, or “Circuits and Electronics” — is running from March 5 through June 8, modeled after one of the introductory courses taught in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

Some people taking 6.002x are students at other universities who are using the course to supplement their own educations; others are professionals whose long-running interest in the subject has been fired anew by the course. MIT News recently canvassed students from around the world who are enrolled in 6.002x to see what their experience has been like — so far, at any rate.


Many of those taking 6.002x already have degrees, and are using the course to sharpen skills for personal or professional reasons. Brian Ho, the owner of a software-development company in Honolulu who has a long-running interest in robotics, has an electrical engineering degree and is using the course to “refresh” his knowledge of the subject.


‘Personally ... it means a lot’

Course 6.002x is being co-taught by Anant Agarwal, a professor in EECS and director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL); Chris Terman, co-director of CSAIL; Gerald Sussman, the Panasonic Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT; and CSAIL research scientist Piotr Mitros. Upon completing the work, students will receive an “electronic certificate of accomplishment” from MITx.


The lure of 6.002x, Pearson notes, was enhanced by Agarwal’s lectures on MIT OpenCourseWare in recent years. When he found out through an online discussion board that MITx was enrolling, “I signed up immediately.”

Doubtless, the MITx experience will vary for everyone. But Ho offers that for those around the world who complete a course offered by MIT, “for each of us personally, secretly, it means a lot.”

Source and Fulltext Available At 


CHE > Could Many Universities Follow Borders Bookstores Into Oblivion?

March 7, 2012, 7:44 pm
By Marc Parry

Atlanta — Higher education’s spin on the Silicon Valley garage. That was the vision laid out in September, when the Georgia Institute of Technology announced a new lab for disruptive ideas, the Center for 21st Century Universities. During a visit to Atlanta last week, I checked in to see how things were going, sitting down with Richard A. DeMillo, the center’s director and Georgia Tech’s former dean of computing, and Paul M.A. Baker, the center’s associate director. We talked about challenges and opportunities facing colleges at a time of economic pain and technological change—among them the chance that many universities might follow Borders Bookstores into oblivion.

Q. You recently wrote that universities are “bystanders” at the revolution happening around them, even as they think they’re at the center of it. How so?

Mr. DeMillo: [snip] The higher-education market is reinventing what a university is, what a course is, what a student is, what the value is. I don’t know why anyone would think that the online revolution is about reproducing the classroom experience.

Q. So what is the revolution about?

Mr. DeMillo: You don’t know where events are going to take higher education. But if you want to be an important institution 20 years from now, you have to position yourself so that you can adapt to whatever those technology changes are. Whenever you have this kind of technological change, where there’s a large incumbency, the incumbents are inherently at a disadvantage. And we’re the incumbents.

Q. What are some of the most important changes happening now?

Mr. DeMillo: What you’re seeing, for example, is technology enabling a single master teacher to reach students on an individualized basis on a scale that is unprecedented. So when Sebastian Thrun offers his Intro to Robotics course and gets 150,000 students—that’s a big deal. [snip]

I think what you see happening now with the massive open courses is going to fundamentally change the business models. It’s going to put the notion of value front and center. Why would I want a credential from this university? Why would I want to pay tuition to this university? It really ups the stakes.

Mr. Baker: There used to be something called Borders, you may remember. Think of Borders, the bookstore, “X, Y, Z University,” the bookstore. If you’ve got Amazon as an analogue for these massively open courses, there is still a model where people actually go into bookstores because sometimes they want to touch, or they like hanging out, or there’s other value offered by that. What it means is that the university needs to rethink what it’s doing, how it’s doing it. And how it innovates in a way of surviving in the face of this. If I can do the Amazon equivalent of this open course, why should I come here? Well, maybe you shouldn’t. And that’s a client that is lost.

Mr. DeMillo: All you have to do is add up the amount of money spent on courses. Just take an introduction to computer science. Add up the amount of money that’s spent nationwide on introductory programming courses. It’s a big number, I’ll bet. What is the value received for that spend? If, in fact, there’s a large student population that can be served by a higher-quality course, what’s the argument for spending all that money on 6,000 introduction to programming courses?

Q. You really think that many universities could go the way of Borders?

Mr. DeMillo: Yeah. Well, you can see it already. We lost, in this university system, four institutions this year.

Mr. Baker: The University System of Georgia merged four institutions into other ones that were geographically within 50 miles. The programs essentially were replicated. And in an environment in which you’ve got reduced resources, you can’t afford to have essentially identical programs 50 miles apart.

Q. So what sort of learning landscape do you think might emerge?

Mr. DeMillo: One thing that you might see is highly tuned curricula, students being able to select from a range of things that they want to learn and a range of mentors that they want to interact with, whether you think of it as hacking degrees or pulling assessments from a menu of different universities. What does that mean for the individual university? It means that a university has to figure out where its true value sits in that landscape.

Mr. Baker: Another thing we’re looking at is development of a value index to try to calculate, to be vulgar, the return on investment. Our idea is to try to figure out ways of determining what constitutes value for a student, based on four or five personas. [snoip].

Mr. Demillo: Jeff Selingo wrote a column about this, having one place to go to figure out the economic value of a degree from a university. It’s a great idea, but why focus only on the paycheck as an economic value? There are lots of indicators of value. [snip].

Q. What other projects is your center working on right now?

Mr. DeMillo: The Khan Academy—small bursts of knowledge that may or may not be included in a curriculum—was a really interesting idea. Can students generate this kind of material in a way that’s useful for other students? That’s the genesis of our TechBurst competition [in which students create short videos that explain a single topic]. It turns out there’s a lot of interest on the part of the students at Georgia Tech in teaching what they know to their peers. [snip].

Q. What about the massive open online course Georgia Tech will run in the fall?

Mr. DeMillo: The idea of a massive open course is something that people normally apply to introductory courses. What happens when you look at a massive open advanced seminar? A seminar room with 10,000 students, 50,000 students—what does that even mean? We’ve got some people here that have been blogging for quite a while about advanced topics. [snip].

Q. How would that work?

Mr. DeMillo: The blog is essentially an expression of a master teacher’s understanding of a field to people that want to learn about it. We think that there are some very simple layers that can be built under the existing blogging format that can essentially turn it into a massive open online seminar. It’s also a way of conducting scientific research. When you think about what happens in this blog, it celebrates the process of scientific discovery. [snip]

This is an interesting bookend to the idea of a massive open course. Because the people that are thinking about the massive open online courses for introductory material have a set of considerations. Students are at different levels of achievement. Assessment is very important. The credentialing process is dictated by whether or not you want credit. If you go to the other end of the curriculum, and say, well, what happens when we try to do these advanced courses at scale, credentialing is completely different. Assessment is completely different. You can’t rely on the same automation that you could in the introductory courses. Social networks become extremely important if you’re going to do this stuff at scale, because one professor can’t deal with 100,000 readers. He has to have a network of trusted people who would be able to answer questions. The anticipation is that a whole new set of problems would come up with these kinds of courses.

This conversation has been edited and shortened.

Source and Fulltext Available At


At Yale, Online Lectures Become Lively Books

April 26, 2012, 1:48 pm
By Jennifer Howard
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and other institutions are old hands now at taking course material from the classroom and lab and putting it online for learners anywhere to use. Yale University may be the first to reverse the process, using its Open Yale Courses as the basis for an old-fashioned book series.

This month, Yale University Press released the first batch of paperbacks based on lecture courses featured in the online-learning program. Priced at $18 and available in e-format too, the books are meant to expand the audience for the course material even further, according to Diana E.E. Kleiner. A professor of art history and classics at Yale, Ms. Kleiner is the founding project director of Open Yale Courses.


The books in the series aren’t peer-reviewed as outside manuscripts would normally be, according to Ms. Davulis, but they’re approved by the press’s acquisitions panel and its faculty committee. Although the series is aimed at readers beyond Yale, it makes for a nice on-campus partnership between Yale’s press and the online-education project. [snip].

To reinforce that, the book jackets feature details from sculptures and other campus artwork. Mr. Kagan’s book, for instance, sports the image of a skull from a stained-glass window in the university’s Hall of Graduate Studies.


Thursday, April 26, 2012


American school children need better educational opportunities and more compelling forms of exposure to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)—and to the people who work in these fields. [snip]. This crisis in STEM education is colliding with, and being compounded by, grim economic realities in most U.S. states. As a country, we are poised to expend fewer resources on one of our most pressing long-term educational and economic challenges. The National Academies have likened this crisis to a rapidly approaching, category-5 hurricane.

MIT has a unique relationship to these issues. We don’t have a STEM problem. As a world leader in engineering and science education and research we continue to attract a strong, diverse, and technically superb applicant pool. [snip].

In December, 2011, Ian Waitz, MIT’s Dean of Engineering, launched the MIT-K12 project, driven by a series of questions: How can we change the perception of the role of engineers and scientists in the world? What can MIT do, right now, to improve STEM education at the K12 level? What if MIT became a publicly accessible “experiential partner” to the country’s K12 educators? What if MIT students generated short-form videos to complement the work those educators are already doing in their classrooms and homes?


The Pilots: Our own learning starts at home

Since July 2011, we have successfully implemented two pilot rounds of video production by MIT students. [snip].

We also conducted a formal assessment of these videos, creating an online survey for students, which generated 300 responses, and a version for K12 teachers to use after viewing the videos with their classes. The results of the surveys bore out most of our objectives. For example, while nearly 90% of student respondents indicated that the videos “showed me that science and engineering could be cool,” the teachers’ survey indicated that the program would benefit from more direct involvement with educators during the assignment phase. [snip].

We were able to integrate some of this learning before we initiated the second round of pilot videos. For round 2, we provided students with more support on production and pedagogy and settled on a “classic experiments” theme for the videos. The participating students responded very favorably to the additional support, and the quality and range of the videos submitted for the second round significantly exceeded that of the first.

Applying what we learned, learning from ourselves, and making something BIG

Providing educators from around the country a productive pathway into MIT and effectively supplementing their classroom needs is not so daunting a challenge — all we need to do is ask them. After consulting with a number of MIT’s 73 existing internal K12 outreach programs, we discovered that many outreach relationships already exist within the Institute, they just aren’t configured to this purpose. There is a network of several thousand MIT alumni who focus on K12 education; the Blossoms program provides 50-minute science and math video lessons to high-schools, the Edgerton Center and the Office of Engineering Outreach Programs run a variety of programs that engage K12 teachers by delivering supplementary engineering and science programming to their students; the Scheller Teacher Education Program licenses K12 teachers in mathematics or science instruction for grades 5-12—this is just to name a few; there are many more.

By leveraging existing connections within our own networks and catalyzing new ones, MIT will respond to the needs of students and teachers and establish relationships between the MIT students creating content and the people who will ultimately use it. The model for MIT-K12 has the potential to scale-up quickly; we will harness the energy of 10,000 of the brightest young engineers and scientists in the world.

Harnessing Smart Crowds

Our goal is to develop and host an open platform for crowd-curated content relevant to K12 STEM education. Our efforts will not only allow us to identify specific and advantageous areas for student work, they will also allow us to create a sense of community around this work, and its effects, among educators and students at every level.

A crucial component in the success of MIT-K12 will lie in the program’s ability to make MIT “available” to educators and to catalyze contributions from outside MIT. [snip]

MIT-K12 will be an avenue for determining how to best assist teachers because it will be comprised of tools and systems that will allow educators from anywhere in the world to submit requests for demonstrations of scientific principles or experiments. Since MIT-K12 will also accept suggestions from other field experts, it will also provide educators with an environment where they can learn from each other about ways in which to improve pedagogical practices and techniques. [snip].


Crowds + Partners = Efficiency

Given the scale of the problem MIT-K12 is hoping to address, we are extremely wary of models or interventions that implicate administrative costs and overhead. In this space, a successful model is one that costs less per educational output over time, and with increased adoption, not more. By using a crowd-sourcing model to solicit, curate, and manage the content of this project, we can reduce both the administrative and promotional burdens that would normally be associated with such a large and ambitious undertaking.


Source and Fulltext Available At

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How Will MOOCs Impact the Future of College Education?

Massive Open Online Courses are leveraging today’s technology to provide (typically) free access to world class education.


“MOOC” stands for Massive Open Online Course, and the number of institutions offering MOOCs is growing quickly. Thanks to increasing media attention and expanding offerings, interest in MOOCs has taken a significant leap forward in the last year ... .

Wikipedia’s entry for MOOCs explains that, “MOOCs are founded on the theory of connectivism and an open pedagogy based on networked learning. Typically, participation in a MOOC is free; however, some MOOCs may charge a fee in the form of tuition if the participant seeks some form of accreditation.”


A sampling of the current state of the MOOC

Today’s MOOC offerings are expanding rapidly in terms of academic subjects covered, numbers of institutions offering them, and students partaking in them. To provide a sense of the widely varied approaches that are being taken with the creation and delivery of MOOCs, here’s a sampling of start-ups, major players, and a few popular individual courses:

Udemy: Making no bones about it, the ‘About’ blurb on the home page of the Udemy site states, “Our goal is to disrupt and democratize education by enabling anyone to learn from the world’s experts.” [snip].

Coursera: This growing powerhouse in the world of MOOCs, Coursera currently hosts courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania. [snip].

Udacity: As of the writing of this article, recent start-up Udacity is offering only a handful of course, all in the computer sciences field. Founded by three roboticists who believed that much of the educational value of their university classes could be offered online, over 160,000 students enrolled in their first offering, ... . [snip]

Creativity & Multicultural Communication from SUNY Empire State College: This course was offered as both a MOOC and a for-credit course at the same time. The course was a ‘connectivist’ course that mixed a variety of activities to facilitate learning and encouraged the use of selections from a wide variety of web-based tools for making a record of learning activities as students consume, remix and repurpose content [snip]. This course is just wrapping up, and has leveraged a mix of over 30 innovative thinkers, researchers, and scholars from the field of instructional technology, from 11 different countries. [snip].

What does the future hold?

It’s going to be interesting to see how the MOOC movement, along with open course initiatives like MIT’s OpenCourseWare, evolve in the coming years, and how these developments relate to traditional higher education. If even a small number of universities and colleges start offering or accepting credits for these types of courses, it could easily grow into a larger trend, and  lower the overall cost of completing a degree. Could this reshape how students earn college credit? Is this ultimately a harbinger of free higher education, or will it evolve into something else entirely? [snip].

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Video > Professor Anant Agarwal on MITx

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

#fslt12 MOOC – Registration

Although the development of the First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education MOOC is still a work in progress, the course is now open for Registration 
"First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education’ is a free online course, which will run from 21 May to 22 June 2012, and will introduce new and aspiring lecturers to teaching and professional development in higher education. We also welcome experienced lecturers who wish to update and share their knowledge and expertise.
The Assessment Activities
The three activities we have designed, which you can find details of on the Moodle site, are for everyone – not only those who choose to be assessed. We hope that many participants will complete these activities, openly share them and that there will be lots of peer assessment. For us, this would exemplify open academic practice and also engagement with some of the principles of learning and teaching in HE.
Other activities in this MOOC might include, blogging, participating in Moodle discussion forums, interacting in distributed spaces of your choice on the web (but don’t forget to tag your posts with #fslt12), and attending the live sessions to hear our guest speakers
  • Frances Bell, “The Role of Openness by Academics in the Transformation of their Teaching and Learning Practices”, Wednesday 30 May 2012, 1500 BST
  • Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, “Theory, Pedagogy, and Identity in Higher-Education Teaching.” Wednesday 06 June, 2012, 1500 BST,
  • Dave White,  ”The Impact on Teachers of Open Educational Resources and Open Academic Practice in the Digital University.” Wednesday 13 June, 2012, 1500 BST

Source and Fulltext Available At 

IU School of Education Professor Bonk to Deliver Free Online Course on Online Teaching

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Curt Bonk, professor of instructional systems technology at the Indiana University School of Education, will deliver a five-week, free and open Internet course about teaching online for a company that specializes in organizing online courses.

Instructional systems technology professor Curt Bonk at Signal Hill in St. John's, Newfoundland, the spot where Guglielmo Marconi received the first wireless message from England. Bonk says that was the first instance of technology opening the world.

CourseSites, a site operated by educational software company Blackboard, is unveiling what it calls its "Open Course Series" by having Bonk lead a session titled "Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success" on May 2, with four other sessions at 4 p.m. EDT each Wednesday through May 30. Free online registration is now open for the "massive open online course," or MOOC. Before registration opened, nearly a thousand people had already indicated interest in the course.

The project is a natural for Bonk, who wrote a recent book titled "The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education," published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley. [snip].


Bonk said Blackboard expects thousands of online instructors from around the globe to register for the course based on the early response. He said the course will be set up to show potential ways of teaching while also answering questions participants might have about their own online experiences.


The MOOC phenomenon is something Bonk is familiar with not just because of his research interests, but because of his teaching. Bonk was a panel participant in a session last summer in a course presented by the University of Illinois at Springfield that had 2,700 students across the world. But he noted that some MOOCs have attracted many more thousands.


Such happenings provide further evidence of the open learning environment Bonk writes about in "The World Is Open." That work was inspired by the best-selling work of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, "The World Is Flat," which listed 10 "flatteners" leading to economic globalization. Bonk similarly laid out a list of 10 "openers" to the availability of education across the Web. Now his own work will contribute further to that openness.


Source and Fulltext Available At 


Introductory Video (4-30-12)


Course Link


Proto-MOOC Stays the Course

Proto-MOOC Stays the Course
April 24, 2012 - 3:00am
By Steve Kolowich

The most provocative aspect of massively open online courses, or MOOCs, is how massive they can be. Last fall, several Stanford professors drew nearly 200,000 students to a series of free computer science courses, an experiment that spawned two companies. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology opened its first massive online engineering course this spring to the tune of 120,000 registrations.

But for Jim Groom, an instructional technologist and adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington, open online courses are not about scale and efficiency. They are about imagination and anarchy.

A year ago, before MOOCs became so widely discussed as to be baptized into the lexicon of The New York Times, Groom decided to take his course on digital storytelling, DS106, into the open waters of the Web, inviting anyone, anywhere, to create, submit and comment on assignments. The reins have been slipping from his hands ever since, and Groom says he could not be happier.

There is no textbook in DS106. Groom and instructional technologist Alan Levine, who teaches the other DS106 section at Mary Washington, do not lecture or teach media editing skills. In Groom’s section of the course, in-person attendance is optional. The instructors consult with students about the design of the course and its website. Two of Groom’s students are building out a new section of the DS106 website where students can vote up each other’s work. Levine and his students are in the process of planning another area where students can remix each other’s work.

“The students are in many ways running and designing this as it goes,” says Groom.

The weekly assignments, which make up 30 percent of the final grade, are created by the students themselves -- the 75 enrolled at Mary Washington and the hundreds of others participating free on the Web -- and aggregated in an assignment bank on DS106's website. [snip].

Like a lot of user-generated Web media, the assignments are often quirky and brief. One assignment challenges students to tell the story of a relationship in three captioned photographs. [snip].

Each assignment is rated, by a group of DS106 veterans, on a scale of one to five stars based on difficulty. Rather than pointing his students toward specific tasks, Groom directs them to do a certain number of stars’ worth of work on their own free blogs each week. Their work is aggregated to the DS106 website, where anyone can view and comment on it.

The decentralized model is no accident. In short, the goal of DS106 is to teach students how to be creative, capable Internet citizens, able to consciously shape their own identities and narratives online. Minus the modicum of structure and authority exerted by the instructors, the course operates much as the Web does. “DS106,” says George Siemens, a professor at Athabasca University and one of the early pioneers of open teaching, “is itself an expression of its content.”

In a video primer created in 2010, Dave Cormier, a Web projects coordinator at the University of Prince Edward Island, describes MOOCs as “a way to connect and collaborate while developing digital skills.” Everything that students create is immediately public, and it can rarely be found in a central location. “There’s no ‘right way’ to do the course, no single path from the first week to the last,” Cormier explains.

Ideally, a MOOC “re-inspires the online space with imagination, and actually allows us to understand that the [learning management] box we’ve been living in for the last decade is just the beginning” of what is possible when teaching and learning move out of the classroom and onto the Web, Groom says.


But massiveness, on the order of six-figure enrollments and eight-figure venture investment, is not on Groom’s agenda; his checklist is “community, collaboration and coordination.” [snip].


Source and Fulltext Available At


Monday, April 23, 2012


A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. It is a gathering of participants, of people willing to jointly exchange knowledge and experiences for each of them to build upon. As such it is within the hands of the participants and organizers of a MOOC to change it to their needs. This allows them to use the information and to construct their own ideas or projects.

Table of Contents 

0. Home Intro to MOOC
1. History of MOOC's
2. Benefits and challenges of a MOOC
3. What to consider before rolling out a MOOC
4. Designing a MOOC using social media tools
5. Self regulated learning and coping with MOOC abundance
6. Facilitating a MOOC
7. How to make your MOOC mobile accessible
8. The First week
9. References

A MOOC is by itself a non-defined pedagogical format to organize learning/teaching/training on a specific topic in a more informal collaborative way. This guide is meant to be a useful template that can be molded, and build upon as our joint knowledge on MOOC’s and new pedagogies grow. Feel free to add your insights to the guide.

This MOOC guide based on the experience of the MobiMOOC(ourse) which was a course that ran from 2 April until the 14 May 2011 and had 580 participants that hooked up to its resources. [snip]


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How 12 Schools Are Using Khan Academy Right Now

1. Los Altos School District

If there’s a model of a school using Khan Academy, it’s this Silicon Valley-adjacent school district. The district is participating in a pilot program in partnership with the developers at Khan Academy, and the results of student experiences with the videos and learning tools are being closely monitored. So far, things seem promising and the school has recently expanded the Khan program to all schools and a wider range of grade levels. [snip]

2. Franklin Elementary School

Franklin Elementary in Franklin, Connecticut is seeking out new and innovative ways to bring online learning into the traditional classroom. In 2012, the school began using Khan Academy in their sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math classes. So far, both teachers and students have been happy with the results. Teachers feel it has helped them to better assess student abilities and focus on helping students where they need it most. Students have reported that the Khan programs have helped improve their math performance ... . [snip].

3. Minola School District

With the launch of the new iPad app for Khan Academy, it’s easier than ever for teachers to bring the resources it has to offer into the classroom. One school district making use of both the tablets and the online education site is Minola School District in New York. Elementary and middle school students within the district are using Khan Academy on their iPads to watch videos and play math-related games that earn them rewards as they progress. [snip].

4. Envision Academy

Envision is one of four charter schools in Northern California that’s experimenting with Khan Academy in its academic programs. Last summer, the school ran a small program for remedial algebra students using Khan materials, a pilot which was largely successful. The school’s chief academic officer, Brian Greenberg, says students respond so well to the Khan material because they get “instant feedback” through tracking accomplishment and progress and by earning badges. [snip]

5. Apple Valley School District

The Apple Valley School District is using Khan Academy in its math classes, but they’ve chosen to combine it with another teaching tool, Accelerated Math, to get even more out of the videos and programs offered. The combination allows teachers to connect videos and lessons from the Khan Academy site directly to district and statewide objectives for learning, ... . [snip].

6. Mt. Ararat Middle School

Based in Topsham, Maine, this middle school is embracing Khan Academy in a pilot set of math classrooms this year. Students will be using the math videos posted at Khan to learn new concepts while also completing problem sets, both in the classroom and at home for practice. [snip].

7. Bubb Elementary School

Gayle Dyer is bringing a host of online and high-tech tools into the classroom for her fifth grade students at Bubb Elementary School to use. Students can play and learn on iPads and through educational content on YouTube and Khan Academy. [snip].

 8.Summit Preparatory School

Summit is one of a number of California charter schools making Khan a part of their everyday classroom experience. The school is splitting up lessons between those that are teacher-led and those that are computer-based, allowing students to get feedback from both their teacher and the online Khan programs. [snip].

 9. Hope Technology School

This private school in Palo Alto uses small classes (only 12-13 students) and the latest technology to help both typical learners and those with special needs thrive in a classroom setting. One of the newest tools being tried out in Hope classrooms is Khan Academy. Hope is unique among schools trying out Khan because nearly 40% of its students have special needs and require special accommodations in the classroom and during testing. [snip].

10. Mt. Lebanon High School

Math classes at Mt. Lebanon are fully embracing the idea of the flipped classroom, with students watching lectures as homework and getting help from their teacher to work on problem sets in class. A big help to this process has been Khan Academy, which was the inspiration for teachers to create their own Khan-like programs for students. [snip].

11. Fitzgerald Public Schools

 Students at Chatterton Middle School in the Fitzgerald Public School District are using Khan Academy to work at their own pace in math classes in a program called Tier Math. Students begin the course at their own level and work through at a pace that is comfortable for them, progressing through lectures and problem sets using Khan Academy resources online. [snip].

12. Acton Academy

Acton Academy is making great strides in bringing adaptive educational technologies into the classroom. The school not only uses Khan Academy, but also Manga High and Jili Math to help students work at their own pace and review material that they may not have grasped. [snip].

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Isaac Asimov Imagines Learning in the Digital Age … and Gets It Quite Right (1989)

Now it’s time to see whether Isaac Asimov, another sci-fi legend, possessed the same powers of prescience. ...  [W]e’re highlighting the second part of an interview taped in 1989.

It features Asimov and a younger Bill Moyers talking about education and scientific progress, and it doesn’t take long for Asimov to start describing the revolution in learning we’re seeing unfold today. Imagine a world where computers, internet connections and websites let people learn when they want, wherever they want, and how they want. Suddenly technology democratizes education and empowers people of all ages, and, before too long, “Everyone can have a teacher in the form of access to the gathered knowledge of the human species.”

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After ... [University of Illinois's] Short-lived Experiment, Web Courses, Enrollment on Rise

Sun, 04/22/2012 - 8:00am | Christine Des Garennes, staff writer,

URBANA — MOOCs, moodles, wikis.

What's your online learning IQ?

A MOOC is a "massive, open online course." Moodle is an open-sourced e-learning platform. And with wikis, many different users contribute to online content.

At the University of Illinois, all these strategies, and more, are being used by students and professors as they increasingly experiment with online education in a post-Global Campus environment.

The UI's $18.2 million experiment was short-lived, but lessons learned from Global Campus are shaping the future of online education at the university. Those lessons include maintaining faculty ownership of programs, offering lots of support to new, especially nontraditional students, and adopting a model that is not revenue-driven.

Global Campus, envisioned as a fourth, virtual campus, launched in January 2008 and was touted by former UI President B. Joseph White and the board of trustees. It would be run like a university unit, separate from the other three campuses and offer a wide range of courses for degree- and certificate-seeking students from around the world. But big enrollment gains never materialized and trustees pulled the plug in spring 2009. [snip]

Three years later, U of I Online ( has emerged as a sort of "clearinghouse" for online programs on all three campuses, said Christophe Pierre, the UI's vice president for academic affairs.


'Let 1,000 flowers bloom'

As for future plans for online education at the university, any development would follow the current model, meaning they'd come up from the departments, colleges and campuses, not central university administration, he said.


Part of the appeal of online education, from a professor's standpoint, is to experiment with developing courses and programs, he said. The Global Campus approach, which focused on standardizing models, did not promote innovation or diversity of models, Burbules said.

Those various models can include eight-week courses, 12-week courses, 16-week courses. Courses that require some on-campus involvement and some that do not.

Next semester Jonathan Tomkin, associate director of the School of Earth, Society and Environment within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will offer a new kind of online course: the MOOC.

Popularized by a Stanford University online course on artificial intelligence that drew over 100,000 students, MOOCs are a means to reach many students. The UI MOOC will be on global sustainability and is open to UI students, who can receive credit for the course, and non-UI students from anywhere who will not receive credits.


UIUC's first online degree

Nationally the growth rate for online enrollments has eased somewhat, but the rate continues to be higher than that for total higher education student enrollment, according to "Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011" by the Babson Survey Research Group, which annually assesses the state of online education.


At the University of Illinois, the number of online enrollments has risen from 30,248 in 2007 across all three campuses to 37,835 in 2011. Most enrollments are on the Chicago campus, followed by Springfield, then Urbana-Champaign. Urbana online enrollments have grown from 5,845 in 2007 to 11,222 in 2011.

More programs also are coming online, including a new bachelor's degree in earth, society and environmental sustainability this fall. Urbana has 48 programs and 768 online courses, the bulk of which are master's and certificate programs. Springfield and Chicago have 25 and 41 respectively.


The bachelor's degree in sustainability will be the first online B.A. degree that the Urbana campus has ever offered, Tomkin said. In recent years, most online courses in sustainability have included UI students, plus about five to 10 students from across the country, Tomkin said.


'A whole new environment'

In recent years, online education has become "a whole new environment, fueled by a combination of things," said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the UI Springfield. Those include "the economy and the lingering effects of recession (it's difficult for students to come to campus or pursue their education without working if not full time at least half time) and the wide variety of technologies available" to teachers and students, he said. [snip].

At the same time, mobile technology, such as smart phones and tablets, helps students become more engaged, virtually that is, with their professors and with other students.


As the UI moves toward adding online programs like the sustainability degree, Charles Evans, an associate vice president for academic affairs and former dean of Global Campus, said he believes growth will come from students who in previous years looked to for-profit colleges or community colleges to complete their online degrees or take online courses.


Source and Fulltext Available At 


Remaking Education in the Image of Our Desires

The current generation of students will witness the remaking of our education system. Change is happening on many fronts: economic, technological, paradigmatic, social, and the natural cycles of change that occur in complex social/technical systems.

.People have attempted to define change principles: Christensen’s disruptive innovation, Schumpeter’s creative destruction, Kuhn’s revolution structures, Paul A. David’s model of long systemic change, and (my personal favorite) Carlota Perez’ techno-economic revolutions. Each of these are a different lens for viewing big, dramatic, change.


The internet has already transformed music, news, entertainment, and business. Education is trailing those sectors, but not for long. Online learning has grown consistently over the last decade (see Sloan-C image below). Judging from current hype and interest, blended/online learning is about to explode.

We’re not talking routine change here

This isn’t small micro-change. It’s not about adding a new technology into a classroom. It’s much, much bigger. It is part of the big shift: new rules, global market, capital shifts, emerging markets, new economies, and dying economies.


One of the most significant points of innovation in education is in the increase in startups, venture capital, and general corporate interest in filling gaps or correcting inefficiencies.

Enter ASU Skysong and Education Innovation Summit

Over the past few days, I spent time in a hub of corporate-driven educational change: The ASU Skysong Education Innovation Summit. The summit was sold out at 800 participants, but conference leaders say that they could have doubled attendance. It is a three year old summit, and experienced almost 50% increase in sponsors and attendees from last year.


Athabasca University is one of four research universities in Alberta (the others being U of Calgary, U of Alberta, and U of Lethbridge). About 1 1/2 years ago, we started looking at options to increase the impact of our research. As an online university, AU has developed significant expertise in distributed learning and interaction. Many of AU researchers have developed tools and techniques that have strong market potential. Instead of licensing that technology, AU has started to experiment with startups models: partnering with companies in bringing innovations to market. [snip]


ASU Skysong is one of the best models I’ve encountered for innovation in education through startups. And that’s why I ended up at the Education Innovation Summit.


Your ideas are starting to scare me


The conference officially opened with a talk from ASU president Michael Crow about massive change in education ... . Michael Moe followed Crow’s presentation with an overview of the EI Summit and an analysis of change in society and education. [snip]

The presentations and panels that followed the opening keynote ranged from interesting to quite disconcerting. [snip]


The final keynote of the conference, Reed Hastings, was excellent. He recognized that the role of innovation in education needs to centre on students and teachers. This was a departure from many of the panels where innovation and change were the general target.

Language games were evident at the summit. Instead of “for-profit”, “private education” was used. Instead of “charter schools”, “choice schools” was used. The language drew heavily on terms with positive connotations: democracy, markets, freedom, choice, and innovation.

Entrepreneurship is a good thing in education


I have colleagues and friends in education who have a disdainful view of business. I don’t.

I’m quite hopeful that startups will change education.


I’ve been in higher education since the late 1990′s. I love what I do. I love the freedom of academia – the time to think deeply, to explore ideas and concepts that most people don’t have the time to explore. I still see myself as an entreprenuer and it is a path that I frequently consider exploring.

I mention this because I don’t what these comments to be seen as a rant against entrepreneurship in education. Many parts of the education system are in horrible shape. The system itself is not adaptive or flexible. It is not responsive to change. Many parts of the world have more favorable views of private / for-profit education than what is found in US, Canada, and Europe. [snip]

Random advice

For startups:

Create your startup around a compelling social or educational challenge. Companies such as Presence Learning address a real problem that goes beyond making money.

Include educators in your thinking. Many (most?) of the startups I saw at the Summit were not grounded in education – they were trying to innovate in a space where they didn’t have expertise.

Education is a complex landscape, fusing social, research, and knowledge domains. Change produces unintended ripples. When you mess up in business, you might destroy some shareholder wealth. When you mess up in education, you are striking at the foundation of society. Errors can ripple decades into the future. Entrepreneurs in education require a broad, society-conscious, vision of their activities. More than any other sector, corporate activity in education must focus on more than a financial bottom line.

For educators:

The future is arriving rapidly. I was shocked at how unaware I was about the scope of startup and corporate activity in education. The EI Summit was an eye opener. I’ve long been aware of startups and even launched a (failed) site to track entrepreneurial activity in education. I was not prepared for the developed and well-connected the idea-capital-policy networks that I saw at the summit.

I really only have one point of advice for educators: become informed about the startup and the corporate activity in education. [snip]


Where does this leave us?

There are a few integrated players in the market, notably Pearson. Blackboard is attempting a similar play, but serving the existing education market requires a slower pace of innovation than what is noticeable in companies that operate outside of the education system.


What is happening in education?

The education marketplace is being remade in a lego-block style model. Startups are targeting different aspects of education and a few large corporations (such as Pearson) are buying these lego pieces to build at new model of education. The major sectors are listed below. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it does provide an overview of corporate activity in education. Some companies (Pearson) play in most of the sectors. Others, like Blackboard, are attempting to transition from platform to services. Organizations that focus on learner and learner support are missing. This sector is still under-developed.

Wrapping up

The EI Summit is one that I will attend again.



I’m unsettled.

The concepts that I use to orient myself and validate my actions were non-existent on summit panels: research, learner-focus, teacher skills, social pedagogy, learner-autonomy, creativity, integration of social and technical system, and complexity and network theory. Summit attendees are building something that will impact education. I’m worried that this something may be damaging to learners and society while rewarding for investors and entrepreneurs.

Pedagogy, policy, profits

Educators are attempting to remake education according to their pedagogical vision. Politicians are driving their vision through policy. Corporations are driving their vision through profits.

The conference was mono-voiced. During the cocktail reception, someone asked me what I thought of the summit so far. I replied “very interesting, some great ideas, but there was a lot of crap that I need to call out and bitch about”. [snip]

On reflection, that exchange sums up much of my unease with the summit.

In a knowledge economy, we play with ideas constantly. We don’t really know which ones are bad or just suck. We play, experiment and debate. I didn’t see enough of that at EI Summit. I saw strong agreement in the vision forward. People on panels would say really odd things (i.e. “get rid of more teachers and spend it on technology”). The problem with idiotic ideas is that they become foundational in a conversation if they are not interrogated when they arise.

I get worried when everyone agrees on, well, anything.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

MITx > Disruptive Innovation — In Education

For Anant Agarwal, MITx, the Institute’s new online-learning initiative, isn’t just a means of democratizing education. It’s a way to reinvent it

It’s midnight, and Anant Agarwal is still at his computer.


Instead, he’s in an online discussion forum, talking about basic circuit design with students around the world — a group that includes high schoolers, undergraduates, mid-career professionals and at least one octogenarian retiree.

A decade ago, MIT broke ground with its OpenCourseWare initiative, which made MIT course materials, such as syllabi and lecture notes, publicly accessible. But over the last five years, MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif has led an effort to move the complete MIT classroom experience online, with video lectures, homework assignments, lab work — and a grade at the end.

That project, called MITx, launched late last year. On March 16, Reif announced that Agarwal would step down as CSAIL director in order to lead MIT’s Open Learning Enterprise, which will oversee MITx’s development.

MITx is born

“I’ve done a few startups, and even as a professor, you want to eat your own dog food,” Agarwal says. Hence his late-evening sessions on the bulletin board for MITx’s prototype course, “Circuits and Electronics.”

Co-taught by Agarwal, Panasonic Professor of Electrical Engineering Gerald Sussman, CSAIL co-director and Senior Lecturer Christopher Terman and CSAIL research scientist Piotr Mitros, the course — 6.002 in MIT’s course-numbering system, 6.002x in its MITx iteration — has more than 120,000 enrollees. Logged into the discussion forum as “aa,” Agarwal tests the MITx interface, gauges students’ reaction to online tools and sometimes answers their questions.


Learning to teach online

Beyond the discussion forum, 6.002x students have built their own communities around the course — both online, through vehicles such as Facebook groups, and in the real world, meeting in person to discuss course content and assignments.

 Late one night, Agarwal was logged in to the forum and saw a post by a student who was having trouble with the material and planned to drop the course. “Many of the students responded saying, ‘Hey, we’ve found a little group of us who are working on this course in your neighborhood. Hang in there. Don’t quit. We’re going to help you,’” Agarwal says. “That was pretty amazing.”


A man with a plan


His selection as head of the Open Learning Enterprise, however, may have more to do with his innovations in online education. Teaching 6.002 to MIT undergraduates, he developed a program, called WebSim, that allowed students to process real-world electrical signals — such as the audio signal from an MP3 player — by assembling virtual circuits on a computer screen rather than physical circuits at a lab bench. “I’ve been hacking around on it for 10 years,” Agarwal says. Aspects of the software that 6.002x students are now using to fulfill their lab requirements were modeled on WebSim.

The development of such online-learning tools will be crucial to MITx’s expansion. “How do you put a chemistry lab online?” Agarwal asks. “We’re just getting started here. Figuring out how to tailor the platform for MIT’s many disciplines will require collaboration across all our schools.”


Indeed, Agarwal says, MITx is not just a tool for democratizing education; it’s also a tool for education research. “I want to disrupt how education is done,” Agarwal says — not just online but on campus as well.


Ultimately, Agarwal says, part of the appeal of working on MITx is that “no one knows how it’s going to evolve. But it has the potential to change the world.”

Source and Fulltext Available At 


What Is A MOOC ?

Written and Narrated by Dave Cormier
Video by Neal Gillis

Dave Cormier
Alexander McAuley
George Siemens
Bonnie Stewart

Created through funding received by the University of Prince Edward Island through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's "Knowledge Synthesis Grants on the Digital Economy"

CC-BY 2010

Two Startups Aim to Make Higher Education More Affordable — or Free

Higher education costs have skyrocketed by over 430 percent since the 1980s. Now two startups aim to make college courses more affordable. Coursera offers free online courses from universities like Stanford and Princeton.

Coursera, founded last fall by Stanford professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, expands today to include non-Stanford classes and also announces $16 million in Series A funding, in a round led by Kleiner Perkins.

Coursera is adding about 30 online courses from the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Stanford and the University of Michigan. [snip] ... [C]oursera aims to recreate an on-campus experience for virtual students. Its coursers include video lectures with interactive quizzes, homework, interactive assignments and collaborative online forums.

“A professor teaching 100,000 students is almost like a new medium, like moving from papyrus to prose,” Ng told me. “For example, how often do students want to see the instructor’s face? Do they want pre-typed text or should the instructor hand-write the text? We’re still figuring it out. Multiple top universities working on a single site provides the opportunity to leverage resources, and partner institutions can learn from each other about how one ought to teach in this new space.”


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Drop In! Top Schools From Berkeley to Yale Now Offer Free Online Courses

On average, it will cost $55,600 to attend Princeton, Penn, Michigan or Stanford next year. But now you can enroll in online courses at all four universities online for free.

The universities won’t just be posting lectures online like MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, Yale’s Open Yale Courses and the University of California at Berkeley’s Webcast. Rather, courses will require deadlines, evaluations, discussions and, in some cases, a statement of achievement.

“The technology as well as the sociology have finally matured to the point where we are ready for this,” says Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, the for-profit platform classes will run on.


Coursera grew out of an experiment in Stanford’s computer science department that opened up a handful of classes to non-Stanford students via the Internet. The online students received a signed letter from the instructor (but no credit) upon completion.


Stanford professors are not the only group pushing the limits of free, virtual education. University of the People, for instance, enrolls more than a thousand students in 115 different countries in its free degree programs. For-profit learning site Udemy has recruited professors from universities such as Stanford, Yale, Northwestern and Dartmouth to teach video-based courses on its free platform.

MIT announced its plans for online courses in December and launched its first class this March.


A startup called 2tor has helped universities such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Southern California monetize their virtual classrooms. Those programs grant degrees, but limit class size and charge standard tuition.


“It opens doors to people who wouldn’t have had them opened otherwise,” Koller says. “Education is a real equalizer, even if it doesn’t come with a degree attached to it.”

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Massive Open Online Classes and the Future of EDU

HackEducation‘s Audrey Watters and Philipp Schmidt, co-founder of P2PU join us to discuss the ever emerging role of massive open online classes in education. Hyped by many as the torch for democratizing education, we delve into the reality of how MOOCs really work, including varying delivery models, as well as clarifying who their primary users are today.

Going way beyond such usual suspects as MITx and Stanford, we discuss scalable open courses, technology based-assessment, and ultimately what needs to be done to truly democratize education after all.

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Udemy: The Academy of You

Udemy's goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online.
Just as blogging democratized the publishing industry (enabling anyone to instantly become a journalist), Udemy seeks to dramatically change education by empowering millions of experts around the world to teach & share what they know.
We've built an incredible platform that makes it easy for anyone to build an online course. Instructors can use video, PowerPoint, PDFs, audio, zip files and live classes to quickly build a course and share their expertise.
Students can take courses across a great breadth of categories, including: business & entrepreneurship, academics, the arts, health & fitness, language, music, technology, games, and more.
Most courses on Udemy are free, but some are paid. Paid courses typically range in price from $5 - $250.


Each course is a curated collection of videos, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, documents, articles, links, pictures, and live sessions all formed into a series of "chapters" and "lectures."





Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Online Education Venture Lures Cash Infusion and Deals With 5 Top Universities

SAN FRANCISCO — An interactive online learning system created by two Stanford computer scientists plans to announce Wednesday that it has secured $16 million in venture capital and partnerships with five major universities.

The scientists, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, taught free Web-based courses through Stanford last year that reached more than 100,000 students. Now they have formed a company, Coursera, as a Web portal to distribute a broad array of interactive courses in the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and engineering.

Besides Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, where the venture has already been offering courses, the university partners include the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.


Last fall a course in artificial intelligence taught by Sebastian Thrun, then at Stanford, and Google’s director of research, Peter Norvig, attracted more than 160,000 students from 190 countries.

The free course touched off an intense debate behind the scenes at Stanford, where annual tuition is $40,050. Ultimately, the 22,000 students who finished the course received “certificates of completion” rather than Stanford credit. And Dr. Thrun, who also directs Google’s X research lab, left his tenured position at Stanford and founded a private online school, Udacity.

Coursera (pronounced COR-sayr-uh), based in Mountain View, Calif., intends to announce that it has received financial backing from two of Silicon Valley’s premier venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates. The founders said they were not ready to announce a strategy for profitability, but noted that the investment gave them time to develop new ways to generate revenue.

One of their main backers, the venture capitalist John Doerr, a Kleiner investment partner, said via e-mail that he saw a clear business model: “Yes. Even with free courses. From a community of millions of learners some should ‘opt in’ for valuable, premium services. Those revenues should fund investment in tools, technology and royalties to faculty and universities.”

Both founders said they were motivated by the potential of Internet technologies to reach hundreds of thousands of students rather than hundreds.


Coursera and Udacity are not alone in the rush to offer mostly free online educational alternatives. Start-up companies like Minerva and Udemy, and, separately, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have recently announced similar platforms.

Unlike previous video lectures, which offered a “static” learning model, the Coursera system breaks lectures into segments as short as 10 minutes and offers quick online quizzes as part of each segment.

Where essays are required, especially in the humanities and social sciences, the system relies on the students themselves to grade their fellow students’ work, in effect turning them into teaching assistants. Dr. Koller said that this would actually improve the learning experience.

The Coursera system also offers an online feature that allows students to get support from a global student community. Dr. Ng said an early test of the system found that questions were typically answered within 22 minutes.


Dr. Koller said the educational approach was similar to that of the “flipped classroom,” pioneered by the Khan Academy, a creation of the educator Salman Khan. Students watch lectures at home and then work on problem-solving or “homework” in the classroom, either one-on-one with the teacher or in small groups.


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