Chegg Will Buy Coding Bootcamp Thinkful for $80 Million

IBL News | New York

Edtech company Chegg Inc. (NYSE: CHGG), announced yesterday the acquisition of online coding school Thinkful, for $80 million in cash, with potential additional payments of up to $20 million, according to a statement.

The purchase, which was approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to be closed early in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“With the anticipated addition of Thinkful to our platform, Chegg will continue to expand our offerings and make it easier for students to accelerate their path from learning to earning,” said Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Chegg.

Founded in 2012 by Darrell Silver and Daniel Friedman, Brooklyn-based Thinkful seeks to make its programs broadly available by offering content at low costs and with a variety of payment options, including income share agreements.

Thinkful claims that its average customer is 30 years-old, two-thirds of its customers work while in their classes, and half do not have a college degree. Also, it says that 85% of Thinkful graduates get jobs in their field of study within six months of graduating their program.

For Chegg, this latest acquisition will expand its direct-to-student learning platform and add more technology career courses.

Chegg had been holding onto $1.1 billion in cash, according to edSurge. Last year, it bought WriteLab for $15 million in cash.

 

The Open Education Consortium Awards Contributors to OER and Online Projects

IBL News | New York

The Open Education Consortium announced yesterday the winners of its Awards for Excellence, that recognize “outstanding contributions, exemplary leaders, open educational resources, and open projects and initiatives.”

The Leadership Award went to Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, “a leading figure in the international open educational resources (OER) research community and currently holds the first-ever UNESCO Chair in Open Education and Social Justice,” the Open Education Consortium described. [On the left in the picture]

The Practitioner Award was for Carlos Delgado Kloos, Professor and Vice President for Strategy and Digital Education at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. [On the right in the picture].

“Professor Delgado Kloos has been an outstanding educator for over 35 years. His most recent contribution to open education includes two MOOC trilogies on Introduction to Java Programming published on edX that have reached near 500,000 registered learners. He has participated in 4 other MOOCs on edX and MiríadaX, and in a course for OpenCourseWare.”

The Student Award recipients were Dirk Ulijn and Bart Meeuwissen, from TU Delft. They participated in the Hyperloop project and created a MOOC, Hyperloop: Changing the Future of Transportation, featured on the edX platform.

Universidad de los Andes Will Develop the First MOOC-Based Master’s in Spanish

IBL News | New York

Universidad de los Andes, a leading institution in Colombia, will develop the first top-tier online master’s degree at scale in Latin America. Also, it will be the first Spanish-language degree on Coursera.

This Master’s in Software Engineering will prepare Spanish-speaking learners — even those without a bachelor’s degree in computer science — to lead high-performance software development teams,” said Dil Sidhu, Chief Content Officer at Coursera, in blog post.

Latin America currently has an estimated shortage of nearly 450,000 IT professionals.

Admissions are expected to begin by August 2010, and launch in 2021, after official approval from the Colombian Ministry of Education.

The degree will comprise of 18 courses, with two credits and eight weeks per course. Pricing has not been announced yet.

“Businesses today need software engineers that can lead teams, coordinate complex projects, and bring new ideas to the forefront but there aren’t enough qualified graduates in Latin America to help move the industry forward,” said Alfonso Reyes, Dean of the School of Engineering at Universidad de los Andes.

 

2U’s Trilogy Education Launches Two Boot Camps with Columbia and Rice University

IBL News | New York

Trilogy Education, a 2U, Inc. brand (NASDAQ: TWOU), announced last week the launch of two boot camps with Rice University and Columbia Engineering to train professionals in the fintech data field.

The boot camps curriculum will include the usage of technology tools relevant to financial services, such as:

  • Analyzing stock movement using financial APIs in Jupyter notebooks.
  • Creating predictive models for stock prices with time series analysis using Python.
  • Building a decentralized identity system using blockchain technologies.
  • Applying machine learning algorithms to analyze sentiment scores for cryptocurrency news.
  • Using TensorFlow and Keras to build deep learning neural networks to predict financial outcomes.
  • Developing an AI-driven robo-advisor capable of providing financial services with minimal human intervention.

The U.S. has added over 1.5 million fintech-related jobs over the past eight years, according to Burning Glass. For example, U.S. Bancorp and JP Morgan Chase had more open coding positions in the last year than Apple and Google.

Partnering with boot camps is an emerging practice for universities to offer training for coding, cybersecurity, analytics, and other in-demand skills.

Trilogy –acquired by 2U for $750 million earlier this year – has helped pioneer the trend by providing its services to institutions such as the University of Oregon, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of North Carolina’s business school.

Controversial 2U CFO Retires

Also last week, 2U announced the retirement of Cathy Graham as Chief Financial Officer, effective April 1, 2020, “following a successful seven-year career”.

The educational company highlighted that is conducting an external search for its next CFO, although it hid the fact that Cathy Graham was, along with the CEO Chip Paucek, the participant in the disastrous earning call of July 30, which prompted the collapse of 2U, losing two-thirds of its value.

Cathy Graham [in the picture] and Chip Paucek’s commentaries caused a rush of analyst downgrades alongside a massive sell-off.

ForbesMany People Saw The Crash Of A Billion Dollar EdTech Company Coming

The 2019 Learning with MOOCs Conference Unveils Its Keynote Speakers

IBL News | New York

Organizers of the IEEE Learning with MOOCs 2019 conference (October 23-25 in Milwaukee, WI) unveiled to IBL News the preliminary list of speakers at the event.

  • Kerry Douglas (Assistant Professor, Purdue University), “Evaluation for advanced STEM MOOCs (preliminary)”
  • Zachary A. Pardos (Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley), “Learning analytics, deep learning in education, and MOOC data analysis (preliminary)”
  • Kristina Wilson/Bonnie Tomlin (Wisc-Online-Wisconsin Technical College System), “Basic Computer Skills Course MOOC – Creating a MOOC from the Ground Up”
  • Anant Agarwal (CEO, edX), “The Future Learner”
  • Dhawal Shah (Founder and CEO, Class Central), “A Product at Every Price: Overview of MOOC Monetization Models”
  • Manoel Cortes (Engineer & Writer, Class Central), “Communicating Effectively about MOOCs: Approach & Takeaways”; “The Full-Time Online Student: Benefits & Limitations”
  • Carlos Delgado-Kloos (Vice President, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain), “MOOCs for Development: Experience from the MOOC-Maker and COMPETEN-SEA Projects”
  • Rocael Hernandez (Director Galileo Educational System, Universidad Galileo), “Next Decade Challenges and the Role of MOOCs”
  • Carina S. González (Universidad de La Laguna, Spain), “Technology for STEM and diversity (preliminary)”
  • Ting-Chuen Pong (Professor, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), “Experimental Learning and MOOCs (preliminary)”
  • Carina S. González (Universidad de La Laguna, Spain), “Gamification and Fun in MOOCs (preliminary)”
  • Manuel Castro (Professor, IEEE Division VI Director & UNED, Spain), “New Practical Competences in MOOCs”
  • Kristina Wilson (Learning and Development Designer for Learning Innovations, Fox Valley Technical College) and Bonnie Tomlin (Learning Innovations Multimedia Developer), “Creating a MOOC from the Ground Up”

The sixth edition of the LWMOOCs (Learning with MOOCs) reunion will be held on the campus of the Milwaukee School of Engineering for three days at the end of October.

“Keynote speakers from academia and industry will discuss learning analytics, diversity in MOOC audiences, using machine learning to guide learning timelines, and experiences creating and managing MOOCs taken by hundreds of thousands of users,” said Professor Manuel Castro, a member of the steering committee.

This year the theme will revolve around “Enhancing workforce diversity and inclusion.”  In addition, the technical program includes the following topics:

  • Increasing diversity through educational access
  • Assistive and inclusive MOOC techniques
  • Expanding the learner community through MOOCs
  • Social implications of MOOCs
  • Open content, open licensing, and MOOC delivery
  • International cooperation in MOOC projects
  • Using MOOCs in employee training
  • Learning analytics in MOOC courses
  • Machine Learning, AI, and MOOC delivery

The IEEE Learning with MOOCs conference will attract an international audience of researchers and practitioners.

One-hundred or more attendees will converge on Milwaukee from all over the world. Representatives from academic institutions such as MIT, Columbia, Purdue, Wisconsin Technical College System, North Dakota State, Old Dominion, Georgia Tech, Berkeley, the Spanish Distance University, Carlos III University, La Laguna University, Hasso Plattner Institut, Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Turku, Tokyo Tech, Victoria University of Wellington, have already confirmed their attendance.

Similarly, representatives from the industry and government institutions like edX, MathWorks, FutureLearn, ClassCentral, IEEE, the American Museum of National History, the India National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research, and Evimed have also registered.

The IEEE Learning with MOOCS event will be sponsored by edX, ClassCentral, FutureLearn, the IEEE Education Society, the IEEE Milwaukee Section, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering. IBL News will be the Media Partner.

Andrew Ng Internationally Expands His AI-Based Educational and VC Companies

IBL News | New York

Andrew Ng, former CEO of Coursera and instructor on courses developed by his startup Deeplearning.ai, is choosing Medellin, in Colombia, as the place to expand.

After reviewing a wide range of cities in Europe, Asia and Latin America, Andrew Ng will open a second office for his AI-related projects in Colombia, according to TechCrunch.

These projects include, in addition to Deeplearning.ai, the AI Fund startup studio for building AI companies and Landing.ai, which helps enterprises use AI.

Ng believes that Medellin offers a strong talent pool, along with an educational and business ecosystem, since it is home to a number of universities and a hub for startups and incubators.

“It’s important that we set up AI hubs outside of Silicon Valley and China, in part, because they will provide a different perspective,” Ng explained.

Andrew Ng [in the picture] plans to expand his existing team of 50 people into 150 to 200 employees over the next two years. His view is based on building specialized components for various verticals.

LMS Market Won’t Grow, Continuing To Be Dominated By The Big Four

IBL News | New York

Phil Hill, edtech consultant, released its mid-year 2019 report on the business of LMS (Learning Management System) in the United States and Canada’s higher education.

This market continues to be dominated worldwide at a 95% rate by “the Big Four” (Instructure Canvas, Blackboard Learn, D2L Brightspace, and Moodle).

Since mid-2018, the overall market activity showed fewer LMS formal evaluations, with data pointing to a 20%– 25% drop from 2017. “This slowdown seems to be a type of plateau rather than a continuing trend,” explains Phil Hill.

Canvas LMS has extended its lead in North America over Blackboard: 28% vs. 27% based on several institutions, and 35% vs. 31%, in terms of student enrollments at those schools. Meanwhile, D2L/Brightspace’s market share decreased slightly – largely due to the closure of for-profit clients – despite recent wins including Purdue University, the University of the Sciences, University of Rhode Island, and nearly a dozen others.

The report also indicates Moodle’s slight decline of less than 1% in terms of institutions over the past year.

Coursera Acquires an Online Platform for Hands-On Projects In Order to Enhance Its New R&D Unit

IBL News | New York

Coursera.org announced on Wednesday 28 its first-ever acquisition, of a startup called Rhyme Softworks, creator of a platform that allows developers to build hands-on, virtual e-learning projects.

Along with the transaction, Coursera unveiled Coursera Labs. This new offering lets educational institutions and industry partners to power up their own hands-on learning projects, powered in part by the Rhyme technology.

The terms of the acquisition of Rhyme Softworks – a San Mateo, Calif-based company with a team of only six – were not disclosed.

“With Rhyme’s virtual machines, beginner to intermediate-level learners can follow along with self-paced or live guided sessions while simultaneously completing a project or assignment — all from one browser using pre-configured Windows or Linux cloud desktops,” explained Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO at Coursera, in a blog post.

This platform uses Jupyter Notebook, RStudio, VS Code, and cloud software consoles.

Jeff Maggioncalda also disclosed that the University of London was a pilot partner for Coursera Labs, creating an innovative way for learners of their Introduction to Computer Programming course.

With a custom application called Sleuth, students are able to write code to solve a series of interactive detective puzzles.

Additionally, the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois plan to use this functionality for their upcoming content on the Coursera platform by the end of the year.

“As online learning continues to support workforce training on the job and at home, it’s important to provide engaging, hands-on experiences that enable learners to test their mastery of new skills with the tools used in the workplace,” concluded Maggioncalda.

Mountain View, CA-based Coursera hosts today 3,600 courses and 14 degrees, from 190 top university and industry partners, and has attracted 43 million learners and 2,000 corporate customers.

The organization recently raised $103 million at a valuation of $1 billion. It competes with well-funded rivals like Udemy and Udacity, as well as the nonprofit edX.org.

GitHub Classroom Builds an Extensible Ecosystem to Integrate Popular LMSes

IBL News | New York

GitHub Classroom, the LMS of the leading repository, is building an extensible ecosystem to integrate popular learning systems.

Recently, GitHub announced integrations with Google Classroom, Canvas, Brightspace, and Moodle. Blackboard is expected to be added soon to the list of LMSes supported, according to its blog.

GitHub, which is an open source, is used by almost 20,000 teachers to hand out assignments, monitor student progress, and give feedback.

“We’re excited to announce the new integration with the learning management systems (LMS) you already use,” wrote Nathaniel Woodthorpe, program manager at GitHub. “This integration allows you to sync your list of students from your LMS with GitHub Classroom—all without the need for manual copying. Even better, you can make changes to this list throughout the semester,” he added.

 

Sebastian Thrun Picks an Executive of LendingTree as a New CEO at Udacity

IBL News | New York

Udacity announced yesterday the appointment of Gabriel Dalporto as a new CEO, after nearly ten months searching for a top executive. Dalporto fills a vacant position since Vishal Makhijani stepped down in October 2018.

“With Gabe’s dynamic leadership style and outcome-driven approach, I know he is the right person to lead Udacity into our next phase of growth,” wrote Sebastian Thrun, co-founder and currently in charge of day-to-day operations at Udacity in a blog post . “And I will continue to support him as Executive Chairman of Udacity,” he added.

Gabriel Daporto’s last managing position was CFO at LendingTree. He was also a member of the Board of Directors at LendingTree and Guitar Center.

“Gabe takes over Udacity at an opportune moment in time,” explained Thrun while issuing an array of bullish statements:

  • “Since June 2019, the company has been cash-flow positive, and it is growing aggressively”.
  •  “The consumer business has grown by more than 60%.”
  • “Our enterprise and government businesses are also booming, with bookings each increasing by over 100% year over year.”
  • “Our corporate clients now consistently report over 80% course completion rates, a far cry from MOOCs and other content-only offerings.”
  • “Staying truthful to our social mission, we launched more than 50,000 new scholarships with AT&T, Google, Bertelsmann, Facebook, and AWS.”

[Gabriel Dalporto and Sebastian Thrun, in the picture above]

+