Arizona State University Develops the First Adaptive-Learning Degree in Science

IBL News | New York

Arizona State University (ASU) announced last week that it has developed the world’s first adaptive-learning biology degree, adjusting to the student needs in real-time.

“We are moving away from mass production to mass personalization,” said Dale Johnson, director of adaptive-learning initiatives with EdPlus at ASU. “We used to teach everyone the same thing at the same time. Now, we’re connecting the right student to the right lesson. We are changing the structure of higher education from static to dynamic,” he added.

The four-year degree in Biological Sciences is built in a new adaptive-learning platform called BioSpine. The technology has been co-created between ASU and a Scottish company called CogBooks.

“With the support, we are creating through adaptive learning, as well as true assessments that measure the range of student learning, students will receive support and direction when course material is especially challenging,” said Joshua Caulkins, assistant director of undergraduate programs with ASU.

The degree program uses the BioSpine adaptive-learning courseware rather than textbooks.

Faculty members link learning activities to the platform, which then allows students to progress through more challenging coursework when they are ready, or step back and get support in relearning something from a previous course or chapter.

ASU thinks that big lecture hall doesn’t engage students in science classrooms, nor is effective in producing an exceptional performance in exams.

“Key BioSpine features include aligning the curriculum, integrating content, shifting faculty roles from lecturers to leaders and empowering faculty to see when a student needs intervention,” said ASU.

Students have responded enthusiastically to the change, and even some faculty members have received an ovation from learners at the end of courses.

Coding Bootcamps Are Booming: 23k New Graduates This Year

IBL News | New York

Coding bootcamps, currently an industry of $309 million in revenue, will graduate around 23,000 developers in 2019, an increase of 49% over 2018, according to an in-depth study by Course Report.

As a point of reference, in 2018 there were about 93,000 undergraduate computer science majors graduating from American universities.

A key finding shows that online coding boot camps are growing even than in-person bootcamps  in growth around 171% year-over-year. However, by sheer count, in-person graduates still dominate — 17,524 vs. 5,519 in 2019.

As a trend alert, Course Report indicates that 29 bootcamps will teach an additional 22,549 students via 995 corporate training partners.

Additional key findings highlight that:

  • In 2019, there are 96 in-person bootcamp providers and 14 online bootcamp providers. As of June 1, there are coding bootcamps in 71 U.S. cities and 38 states.


  • Average tuition price of qualifying in-person courses is on the rise – $13,584, with an average program length of 15.1 weeks. Online bootcamps are slightly less expensive ($12,898) and much longer (24.3 weeks).


  • Tuition revenue from qualifying schools will be $309,237,750 in 2019 (not including corporate training revenue) – this includes $71,186,477 from online schools in 2019. Trend Alert: 23 bootcamps offer Deferred Tuition or Income Sharing Agreements in 2019.


  • This year, Full Stack JavaScript continues to be the most common teaching language, used in 44% of Web Development courses.


  • The length of online programs has stretched out, from 15.4 weeks in 2018 to 24.3 weeks in 2019. This rise in duration is attributed to the launch of six-month programs in 2018 by online operators such as Lambda School and Thinkful.


  • In-person coding bootcamps were also trending longer. The average length of an in-person bootcamp is now 15.1 weeks, a bump up from 14.4 weeks in 2018.




The University of Glasgow Will Deliver Its First Online Degree in Late 2020

IBL News | New York

The 550-year-old University of Glasgow, one of the top world 100 universities, will deliver its first online degree at the end of 2020.

The degree will be offered through the FutureLearn platform. It will be on End of Life Studies and will be accompanied by a free “taster course” in late 2019, so prospective students can learn what the program might entail.

The degree will be available as a master’s, postgraduate diploma, and postgraduate certificate, with 180, 120 and 60 credits awarded respectively.

Terms of the arrangement, announced early this month, were not disclosed.

The University of Glasgow has been a FutureLearn partner since this platform launched in 2012, with the institution hosting online courses such as A History of Royal FashionUnderstanding Suicide and Suicide Prevention Strategies in a Global Context, and Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime.

Regarding the subject of the degree, the Scottish university explains, “as the global population ages and grows, there will be a huge increase in the number of people who die in the world every year, from around 56 million currently to 90 million, or even more, by the second half of the century.”

“This degree will explore the many contested issues concerning where, how, when and where we die.”

“The course will draw on the social sciences, humanities and clinical disciplines to examine new theories, empirical studies and innovative methods that are shedding light on the issues of death, dying and bereavement across cultures and geographies.”

Google’s AI-Based App Provides Answers to Learners Who Get Stuck While Studying

IBL News | New York

Google is rolling out a revamped version of Socratic, a mobile learning app it quietly acquired in 2018.

Empowered with AI and Machine Learning technology, the mobile app is intended for high school and university learners who often get stuck and frustrated while studying on their own.

It answers questions on 1,000 subjects by using trained algorithms that identify the concept and find relevant material on the web.

For example, as Google demonstrates in its blog post (shown below), the students could take a picture of a square- root equation and receive help understanding how to simplify square roots. Also, if they struggle to understand textbook content or handouts, they can take a picture of the page and check out alternative explanations of the same concepts.

The app also supports speech recognition so users can also ask questions via their voice.

The new Socratic version is available only on iOS. This fall, it will be released on Android.

Similar apps in the space are Photomath, Mathway, and DoYourMath.

LearnX.UQ, The University of Queensland’s New Open edX Ecosystem

IBL News | New York

The University of Queensland (UQ), in Australia, has started its own Open edX ecosystem, called LearnX.UQ. The university has over 50 MOOCs and programs on and dozens of SPOCs on,

This deployment will join UQ’s Blackboard LMS, known as Learn.UQ, becoming a key component of its virtual learning environment.

“Our initial focus for LearnX.UQ is blended learning for UQ students, but phase 2 will encompass our fully-online programs and alternative credentials,” wrote John Zornig, Director of UQx at University of Queensland (UQ) on the Open edX forum.

“We are excited to be working with IBL Education as our technical partner for the development and operations of LearnX.UQ,” he added. We look forward to contributing where we can to the future of Open edX”.

The University of Queensland (UQ), in Australia, is one of the world’s premier teaching and research institutions and has been an edX partner since 2013.


Google, Intel, Microsoft, IBM and Others Launch The Confidential Computing Consortium to Improve Data Security

Mikel Amigot | IBL News (San Diego)

The Linux Foundation announced today during the opening of the Open Source Summit North America – that has returned to San Diego – the formation of the Confidential Computing Consortium (CCC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting the confidential computing market.

The CCC will weigh in on technical and regulatory standards, and develop tools open-source tools for Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) development, also known as enclaves. The projects will be available under the MIT open-source license.

“Essentially, the end goal is to enable better data security by protecting that data in use,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, in a statement.

By confidential computing, the group is referring to technical solutions for isolating encrypted data inside a computer’s memory, without sharing it with the rest of the system, reducing exposure and giving users more control and transparency.

Tech giants committed to the initiative include Microsoft, Intel, Google Cloud, IBM, Red Hat, Swisscom, Arm and the Chinese companies Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent. Developers and academics will be involved, too.

The CCC will also serve as a foundation for education and outreach projects.

To get things started, companies made a series of open source project contributions, including Intel’s Software Guard Extensions SDK, Microsoft Open Enclave SDK, and Red Hat Enarx.

For Jim Zemlin, the only way to arrive at this sort of technological solution for all of these different entities is to come together in one place.

The consortium will be funded through membership dues and will be accepting applications for members.

The announcement of the CCC wasn’t positively received by everyone. For example, at the Phoronix community there were critics like this one: “Wow, that name for this, and its goals and those companies being behind it. This must be a big joke.” Faces Class-Action Lawsuits From Investors Who Suffered Losses

IBL News | New York

2U (NASDAQ: TWOU) is not the only public EdTech facing class-action lawsuits for alleged securities fraud. Pluralsight (NASDAQ: PS) is now being targeted by several law firms on behalf of investors who have suffered significant losses, exceeding $50,000 between August 2018 and July 2019.

For example, San Francisco-based law firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, argues in a recent press release:

“Defendants [Pluralsight] misled investors about its business outlook, particularly related to its salesforce and ability to generate strong growth in billings.”

“Pluralsight and senior management concealed the Company’s substantial delays in hiring and properly training the salesforce necessary to meet its lofty billing projections.”

“On July 31, 2019, Pluralsight announced (1) disappointing financial results for 2Q 2019, (2) blamed Pluralsight’s declining growth in billings on sales execution problems with its salesforce, and (3) the departure of the Company’s Chief Revenue Officer.”

“Several analysts then lowered their price targets for Pluralsight shares.”

“We’re focused on investors’ losses, the extent to which management may have misled investors about reasonable growth prospects, internal controls, and reasons for the recently-announced auditor change,” said Hagens Berman partner Reed Kathrein.

Another company who is filing a class-action lawsuit is New York-based Rosen Law Firm. The lawsuit, announced yesterday, seeks to recover damages for Pluralsight investors under the federal securities laws.

Also on August 20, at least three more firms announced their legal actions: Faruqi & Faruqi, Robbins Arroyo, The Schall Law Firm,

Other firms filing are Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, Levi & Korsinsky, and The Gross Law Firm,

On July 31, Pluralsight stock plunged more than 20 % after the company issued third-quarter guidance that was below Wall Street estimates.

The education software company reported second-quarter net losses of $35.6 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with losses of $43.8 million, or 19 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

SNHU Will Be the First University to Recognize Salesforce Training

IBL News | New York

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) will be the first university to award college credit to students who complete their Salesforce training through Trailhead, the company free online learning platform for developers and administrators.

Over than 1.5 million learners have completed Trailhead modules since 2014 in order to learn how to use Salesforce as administrators or developers. Around 3.33 million jobs are expected to be created in the Salesforce economy by 2022.

Completing any collection of 100+ Trailhead modules for either the Admin or Developer role, along with a Superbadge, will count as a 3-credit Experiential Learning course at SNHU.

The credit can be applied as a major elective for applicable IT-related programs or as a free elective towards one of over 100 undergraduate degree programs at SNHU.

“Trailhead and SNHU are a DNA match in our shared passion for putting students at the center of a new kind of learning experience – one focused on real-world outcomes, not just graduation,” said Sarah Franklin, EVP, and GM of Platform, Trailhead and Developers at Salesforce.

“SNHU is focused on treating learners how the best companies treat their customers – always connected so we can anticipate, meet and support their needs,” said Dr. Paul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University. “While that “customer-centric” approach can be a foreign concept in higher education, SNHU has always worked hard to do that well,” said LeBlanc. “Working with Salesforce to talk about new ways to connect learning, college, and career success is a natural extension of that philosophy,” said LeBlanc.

Senators Address EdTech Top Players On Student Data Collection Practices


IBL News | New York

Fifty-five prominent EdTech corporations, non-profit organizations, and data brokers received a letter from a team of Democratic senators inquiring about data collection practices on American students last week.

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) raised concerns that the learning tools used by these companies could pose a serious risk to students, parents, and educational institutions due to the potential for massive amounts of personal information being stolen, collected, or sold without their permission or knowledge.

The Senators reminded that “in 2018, FBI issued a Public Service Announcement warning that malicious use of data collected by EdTech could result in “social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children.”

“It is imperative that we take steps to ensure students’ data is being secured and protected,” the Senators wrote. “Parents, students, and educational institutions deserve to have more control over their data.”

Durbin, Markey, and Blumenthal urged data brokers “to make a clear statement to students that you are committed to transparent and fair data collection practices.” They also addressed the brokers should “and allow parents and students to fully delete any data retained by your company.”

Among those organizations who received the letter were Google, Facebook, ACT, College Board, Kaplan, Instructure, Blackboard, Moodle, and Pearson. This is the full list of all the organizations inquired:

Companies that received today’s letter include: Google, Facebook, Smart Sparrow, DreamBox Learning, ScootPad, ST Math, Curriculum Associates i-Ready, Realizeit, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, Snapwiz, Kaplan, Wiley Education, College Board, ACT, Pearson, Student Opportunity Center, Cognitive Toy Box, AdmitHub, Upswing, Formative, Flocabulary, BrightBytes, Hapara, Intellus Learning, Civitas Learning, Education Elements, No Red Ink, Straighter Line, Turnitin, Cengage, VitalSource, RedShelf, Barnes and Noble Education, Canvas/Instructure, Blackboard, Sakai, Moodle, D2L Brightspace, Edmodo, Quizlet, Schoology Accurate Leads, American Student Marketing, AmeriList, ASL Marketing, Caldwell List Company, Complete Mailing Lists, DataMasters, DMDatabases, Dunhill International List Co., Inc., Exact Data, InfoUSA, LakeB2B, NRCCUA,

The full text of the letter to educational technology companies is available here.

Startup Partners With University of Pittsburgh to Offer Transfer Credit for Online Classes

IBL News | New York

A new educational provider created by the co-founder of MasterClass and called will offer introductory, credit-bearing college online classes at scale, at $400 per course. is set to launch September 9 with two, three-credit, 14-week courses: Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology. They will be offered through the University of Pittsburgh, which will facilitate the transfer of credits.

The company has promised to offer refunds to any student who doesn’t pass.

Despite the .org name and address, Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder and former creative director of MasterClass, said Outlier is a for-profit company, and he added, “Our goal is a social impact. Coming up with a market solution to education, rather just relying on people’s charity, is far more durable.”

Each year, 1 million students take a college-level Calculus I course in the United States, at an average cost of $2,500, and 40% of them fail, explained Rasmussen. “That means we’re wasting $1 billion per year, and that’s just on a single class.”

The main question is whether the existing university system will accept the transfer of these credits.

Students will need to check and verify which institutions will accept these credits.

Rasmussen’s experience in education is mostly based on, a provider known for light-hearted online classes from celebrities in disciplines like photography, guitar-shredding or home cooking.

Other companies such as StraighterLine or tried to bring general education courses at scale in the past.

“While has taken the lead in many of these areas, Pitt faculty members have closely reviewed the syllabi and assessments to ensure that they meet our high standards,” said the University of Pittsburgh Provost Ann Cudd at Education Dive.

The courses, developed on a proprietary LMS, will combine video lectures with open-access materials and. The platform will implement proctoring through Examity for assessments.

Students will be able to choose from different instructors or even switch between them mid-semester. The teachers for Calculus I, for example, include Hannah Fry of University College London, Tim Chartier of Davidson College and John Urschel of MIT.

Outlier expects less than 100 students in each class for the fall term. Classes will be broken up into smaller study groups of four to five students who can connect over video chat.

The startup said that it will remain focused on the first 25 college-level courses, rather than recreating an entire college curriculum.