A Financial Education Platform Provides Short Lessons on Practical Topics

IBL News | New York

PenFed Credit Union, the second-largest federal credit union in the U.S., introduced an interactive, free platform on financial education for members and their families.

PenFed Financial Know How, developed in partnership with Everfi, Inc., is designed to provide members with tools, resources, and personalized knowledge, so they can make informed decisions and achieve financial well-being.

It includes a library of topics in English and Spanish on financial topics such as budgeting, investing, homeownership, and retirement planning. The platform, mobile-first designed, offers 3-6 minute modules, along with interactive, practical exercises.

“Understanding your finances and making sound financial decisions is key to a strong future, but many people don’t know where to turn to get the information they need in a way that is easily digestible and understandable,” explained Everfi Co-Founder and President of Financial Education, Ray Martinez.

In addition, PenFed announced a financial literacy program for high school students in Puerto Rico, where the bank serves over 222,000 members.

Coursera Extends Its Annual Subscription Plan Worldwide

IBL News | New York

Coursera.org extended worldwide its annual access plan to 3,000+ courses.

This subscription plan, called Coursera Plus, comes at a price of $399 per year, and it includes over 90% of the course catalog, according to the announcement made by the learning company. The offer is similar to the one offered to corporations when they buy access for employees.

“You can master a specific skill in a Specialization, get job-ready for an in-demand career with a Professional Certificate, or quickly learn a new industry tool in a Guided Project,” wrote Anubhav Chopra, Lead Product Manager at Coursera.

The Mountain View, California-based startup firm states that “Coursera Plus learners have a 35% higher completion rate and they triple the amount of time they’re active in their courses.”

The fact that learners don’t need to rush to finish courses in one month to try to save money is mentioned in the one-time annual payment as one of the success factors.

In its promotional announcement, Coursera highlights the following courses to attract more clients:

Data Science

Computer Science & IT


Personal Development

Arts and Humanities


The COVID Pandemic Causes Devastation to Children’s Learning Across the World

IBL News | New York

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unbearable devastation to schoolchildren in poor countries.

A new study by UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank carried out in 150 countries, shows that children in low-and lower-middle-income countries have already lost nearly four months of schooling since the start of the pandemic, compared to six weeks of loss in high-income countries.

The problem is magnified in poor countries with limited access to remote learning, budget cuts, and delayed re-opening plans.

“Prioritising reopening schools and providing much-needed catch-up classes are critical,” said Robert Jenkins, Chief of Education at UNICEF.

Harvard’s Professor and EdTech Visionary Robert Lue Dies at 56 From Cancer

IBL News | New York

The Havard, Open edX, and edX community lost this week a key leader, Robert Lue, 56, Researcher and Professor of Biology at Harvard, Founder of LabXChange.org and HarvardX, edtech visionary and a firm advocate of open source and scientific education.

Harvard University reported that Robert Lue died from cancer. His death caused a deep impact on the Harvard and edX community.

“Rob was one of the most creative teachers; he was always thinking about how we could do a better job of engaging our students, and he was particularly gifted in imagining how technology and data could be used to enhance the learning experience,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “The kindness and thoughtfulness he brought to his work over the years infuse many of the pedagogical improvements made at Harvard. He was a valued colleague, and he will be missed.”

Robert “Rob” Lue was Professor of the practice in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology,  Faculty Director of the Harvard Ed Portal, Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, UNESCO Chair on Life Sciences and Social Innovation, and Faculty Director and Principal Investigator of LabXchange. He co-authored two biology textbooks and worked extensively in the field of scientific visualization.

In 2012, Lue became the founding faculty director of HarvardX, shaping the institution’s engagement in online learning and expanding its reach.

Lue’s vision was to improve education “by bringing equal opportunities for learning science [to] anyone and anywhere,” said Valtencir Mendes, Senior Program Lead in UNESCO’s education sector.

Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, said, “Rob was an early and ardent believer in edX. Always willing to help across our network + quick to share his grand and inspirational visions of the shared mission we were all working toward. Rob was a friend and I will miss him dearly.”

Up until his death, Lue was leading LabXchange, a breakthrough, Open edX-based virtual platform launched in October 2019, with over 2.5 million visitors.

“Rob was always so happy when students thanked him [for changing] their view of biology by creating these animations,” said Alain Viel, Director at the Northwest Undergraduate Laboratories and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard. Viel was his partner of 30 years.

An online forum was filled with tribute messages to Lue.

News stories about Robert Lue at IBL News


Language Learning App Duolingo Gets a $2.4 Billion Valuation While It Prepares its IPO

IBL News | New York

Duolingo, the popular language-learning app, announced this week it had secured $35 million in a Series H round, achieving a valuation of $2.4 billion, almost a billion dollars more than a year ago.

The Pittsburgh-based company–co-founded by Hispanic immigrant Luis Von Ahn–has raised $183 million to date. It expects to go public in 2021.

With over 1 million subscribers who pay $6.99 per month and 40 million active users who receive ads on the free version, Duolingo says that it is now cash-flow positive and it will double its annual revenue to $200 million.

Duolingo, which offers 98 courses for 40 different languages, recently launched a new app that teaches children ages 3 to 7 how to read.

The iconic company was founded in 2011 by computer whiz Luis Von Ahn, 42, an immigrant from Guatemala. As a student at Carnegie Mellon, he designed the CAPTCHA system, along with a crowdsourcing device he sold to Google. This week, Luis Von Ahn reaffirmed that is considering an initial public offering as early as next year.



Udemy Reaches a $3.25 Billion Valuation After Raising Another $50 Million

IBL News | New York

Udemy.com announced today that it raised $50 million at a $3.25 billion pre-money valuation. The round, in a Series F financing, came from Learn Capital, with Goldman Sachs as sole placement agent. No plans to IPO the San Francisco-based company have been announced nor disclosed.

The global pandemic is prompting edtech firms to reach astronomical valuations due to an increased demand for online learning.

Udemy claims to host 35 million students, 130,000 courses, and 57,000 instructors.

Rob Hutter, Managing Partner at Learn Capital, said that “Udemy has the right platform and business architecture to dramatically extend its growth as individuals and companies recognize the power of lifelong learning to drive personal and corporate performance.”

A Udemy representative explained, “as countries enacted stay-at-home advisories and national closures, course enrollments across the entire Udemy marketplace platform increased more than 425%, consumption across Udemy for Business surged 90%, and the company saw a 55% increase in course creation by instructors. To date, the company has seen over 400 million course enrollments globally.”

With 700 employees globally, Udemy celebrated its ten-year anniversary in January 2020. At that month, the lifetime payments to instructors reached $350 million, according to the company.

“To vet instructors, Udemy uses machine learning and data science to analyze billions of pieces of feedback and data points around preferences and effectiveness to determine what content is popular and engaging,” explained Stephanie Stapleton, Udemy VP of Customer Success, in an interview at IBL News.


The edX Virtual Global Forum Will Recognize Instructors from 10 Courses and Programs

IBL News | New York

edX partners’ annual reunion will take place this year virtually on December 7th and 8th.

Last year, the event–called edX Global Forum– was also virtual. It wasn’t celebrated as initially scheduled in Hong Kong due to political unrest in the former colony.

This year, the global pandemic will also force the edX organization to develop a remote event, exactly as all other educational organizations have done this year.

The edX management team, led by CEO Anant Agarwal, will engage with college and corporate partners, discussing the latest on the edX.org platform, while analyzing the new post-pandemic scenarios, among other topics.

In addition, the edX Global Forum will recognize the winner of the Fifth Annual edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning. Last year, Dartmouth College Professor Petra Bonfert-Taylor and Institut Mines-Télécom (IMT) Professor Rémi Sharrock won the 2019 edX Prize for their Professional Certificate program, C Programming with Linux.

“This year’s finalists represent a diverse range of disciplines – from economics and business to environmental studies and architecture, to engineering and education; they also represent learning experiences from single courses to MicroMasters programs and Professional Certificate programs all the way up to fully online Master’s degrees,” said Nina Huntemann, Vice President of Learning at edX.

This year, the finalists are professors and instructors pertaining to these courses and programs:

Internet of Things (IoT) MicroMasters Program

Online Master of Science in Analytics and GTx Analytics: Essential Tools and Methods MicroMasters Program

FinTech Professional Certificate Program

Success: Practical Thinking Skills

Unlocking Information Security Professional Certificate Program

As above, so below: An introduction to soils, ecosystems and livelihoods in the Tropics

Zero-Energy Design: An Approach to Make Your Building Sustainable

Agile Project Management Professional Certificate Program

Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters® Program

The Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption

International Enrollments Drop 43% in the U.S. Due to the Global Pandemic

IBL News | New York

COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on international students has resulted in a drop of 43% in international enrollments in the U.S. At least 40,000 students have deferred enrollment to a future term.

These findings come from a survey conducted by IIE (Institute of International Education) and nine partner associations in 700 colleges.

  • The majority of responding institutions report increasing virtual recruitment through online events and asynchronous or synchronous virtual campus visits.
  • Over half is leveraging current international students, online recruitment, social media, EducationUSA, and international partnerships for outreach and recruitment.
  • Fifty-six percent of institutions are recruiting international students at U.S. high schools. Approximately half are prioritizing overseas recruitment in China, Vietnam, and India.

The IIE is convinced that when international travel resumes, there will be a surge of students that have deferred or set their plans aside.

International students contributed $38.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019-20.

Unizin’s Consortium Partners with Blackboard to Offer Ally to its 14 Member Institutions

IBL News | New York

The Unizin university consortium announced last month a partnership with Blackboard to offer Ally (Blackboard Ally) to its 14 member institutions [in the graphic above].

“Blackboard will also implement learning data interoperability standards in Ally to integrate learning data to the Unizin Data Platform (UDP), enabling institutions to build effective data-driven practices at scale,” explained the learning company in a press release.

“Now more than ever with digital learning tools usage at an all-time high, it is critical that all students have equitable access to course resources,” said Cathy O’Bryan, Chief Executive Officer of Unizin.

Ally integrates LMSs, automatically checking digital course content for accessibility issues, and generating alternative formats of instructor content “using advanced Machine Learning algorithms.”

Unizin started its trajectory as a consortium with a partnership with Canvas LMS, later on exploring other educational technologies. Its alliance with Blackboard is a win for the learning company amid the loss of business in favor of Canvas LMS.

About Half of the US Says that More Training Doesn’t Result in a Better Job

IBL News | New York

Half of Americans (52%) don’t believe a good job is within their reach, a 46% say that the hiring and advancement system isn’t fair. Similar shares of Americans cited a lack of employer support for training.

These are the main findings of a national survey of 21,000 people conducted by Strada Education Network and Public Viewpoint about the impact of the pandemic in the U.S.

Another relevant conclusion points to the fact that a quarter of Americans without a college degree said more education and training would make no difference in their ability to get a good job or advance in their career.

“Americans’ skepticism about their ability to advance professionally is deeply concerning,” said Dr. Dave Clayton, Senior Vice President at Strada’s Center for Education Consumer Insights. “People need a clearer understanding of how education can lead to a good job for them.”

Among Americans considering an education in the next six months, 44% prefer work-based learning, nontraditional online training programs, or employer training over college programs.


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