edX MicroMasters Program Wins Employability Award

MicroMasters programs on edX won the Nurturing Employability Award Category at Friday’s QS Reimagine Education conference in San Francisco (29-30 November). edX made this announcement on its blog.

Pioneered by MIT and launched by edX in 2016, MicroMasters were created to bridge the knowledge gap between higher education and the workplace.

With subjects ranging from Data Science to AI, MicroMasters’ credentials have been valued by top companies and linked to employability outcomes. Within two years, edX has launched 51 MicroMasters programs from 30 global institutions.

MOOCs Are Dead, Welcome MOOC-Based Degrees

“MOOCs are dead,” claimed edX’s CEO, Anant Agarwal, last month during the private Global Forum conference in Boston. Some partner universities aligned with the goal of openness in education were shocked.

Additionally, the announcement that edX.org will soon (this month) start charging for graded assessments made some uncomfortable.

“MOOC is a philosophy of education; it has never been a business model. We signed up on edX following this principle,” said a member of one participating university.

This new reality goes against that dream. edX, like Coursera, Udacity, and FutureLearn, needs to be either financially sustainable or profitable. Therefore, revenue-generating solutions are required. A successfully emerged idea is MOOC-based degrees, developed in partnerships between universities and the aforementioned platforms.

The problem is how to split the revenues. Coursera and edX require a 50 percent split, because of the technology and marketing costs. Not all of the institutions are ready to take this deal. They believe that their brands, along with low prices, are powerful enough to make their online degrees successful. Regarding the technology, there are several solutions, including Open edX, which is a community-based, open source software (edX.org uses this code, plus an additional 10% of proprietary software).

With revenue sharing or not, the fact is that these types of online degrees, wrongly called MOOCs, are on the rise. Designed to operate on a larger scale, they feature lower prices than on-campus online equivalents and offer more flexible criteria for admissions. Around 40 disruptive degrees have been announced so far, and many more are planned.

This is the recent history of how these Master’s and Bachelor’s online degrees have unfolded:


  • The first program was Georgia Tech’s groundbreaking online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) program, launched in 2014 on Udacity with support from AT&T. The $6,800 tuition attracted approximately 10,000 students.


  • Two years later, the University of Illinois and Coursera started a Master’s program in Business, branded as an iMBA, consisting of six specializations, for $22,000.


  • In March 2018, Coursera announced its first fully online Bachelor’s degree, targeting both students who are pursuing their first degree as well as those who already have a Bachelor’s. It was a 3-4 year Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, developed by the University of London. The program costs approximately $13,300 to $23,500, depending on the student’s geographic location.


  • In parallel, Coursera reported the development of six new Master’s degrees: a Master of Computer Science from Arizona State University, a Global Master of Public Health from Imperial College London, a Master of Computer Science from the University of Illinois, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of London, a Master of Applied Data Science from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan. Coursera revealed plans to offer 20 online degrees by 2019, becoming a kind of OPM (Online Program Manager) who helps colleges build online degree programs. [The story at IBL News]


  • In August 2018, Georgia Tech announced a new online master’s degree in Cybersecurity for less than $10,000 on edX.org. This OMS Cybersecurity (Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity) will be launched on January 7, 2019, with 250 students and will scale over time. OMS Cybersecurity was Georgia Tech’s third at-scale online degree program. It followed the success of the mentioned 2014 Master of Science in Computer Science, as well as the Online Master of Science in Analytics (OMS Analytics), launched in 2017 on edX with support from AT&T and Accenture. [The story at IBL News]


  • In October 2018, the edX organization achieved a milestone on its expansion strategy by announcing the 2019 launch of nine online Master’s degree programs for a “disruptive price” between $10,000 and $23,000. The average Master’s degree ranges between $30,000-$120,000. These programs, in areas such as Data Science, Cybersecurity, Computer Science, Analytics and Supply Chain Management, will be developed by Arizona State University, Curtin University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University, University of California San Diego, University of Queensland, and the University of Texas at Austin.  [The story at IBL News]


In other words, MOOCs are enjoying a second life.

Open edX | November 2018: edX.org, NYU, Imperial College, Microsoft, MITx…

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NOVEMBER 2018 – NEWSLETTER #11  |  More stories at IBL News



• Open edX-Based Freshman Year for Free Initiative Reaches 100,000 Students Milestone

• Reach of the edX.org and Open edX Platform In Numbers



• Three Professors from Queensland University Awarded with the 2018 edX Prize

• NYU, Western Governors and HEC Montreal Join the edX Consortium



• Microsoft Launches a Series of 10 Courses about Cybersecurity on edX.org

• A Course from Imperial College on edX to Help Investors Understand Climate Risk



• EdX Studies the Viability of the MicroBachelors New Credential

• MITx Displays Videos from Courses on edX on Its New YouTube Channel



• Education Calendar


This newsletter about Open edX is a monthly report compiled by the IBL News staff, in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company that builds AI analytics-driven, revenue-oriented learning ecosystems, and courses with Open edX. 

Read the latest IBL Newsletter on Learning Innovation  |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

Open edX-Based Freshman Year for Free Initiative Reaches 100,000 Students Milestone

The “Freshman Year for Free” initiative has announced a key milestone: the registration of 100,000 students. The project, developed by a philanthropy called Modern States Education Alliance, runs on a sophisticated Open edX ecosystem. Every month over 8,000 new learners join this educational platform.

Taught by professors from leading universities, Modern States’ free online courses prepare students for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam offered by the College Board.

“Having over 100,000 learners registered on ModernStates.org is a significant milestone for our organization and is particularly meaningful to me as I believe access to education is a fundamental right,” said Steve Klinsky, founder and CEO of Modern States. “Total student debt in America now exceeds $1.4 trillion dollars. With higher education playing a key role in the strength of our country, now and in the future, educating people on the cost-saving resources available to them is imperative.”

ModernStates.org classes are high-tech recorded sessions taught by professors from schools such as Johns Hopkins University, Rutgers University, and George Washington University, and prepare learners to pass a CLEP exam. Course materials include free online textbooks and readings, plus practice questions from the College Board. Students can study each course at their own pace and take the CLEP exam when they feel ready.

There are no fees or costs of any kind to access the materials, and each CLEP exam costs $87. As part of its philanthropic commitment, Modern States is paying the CLEP exam fee for the first 10,000 people who take a course. Students request an exam fee voucher once they’ve finished a course.

“Whether someone takes one of our courses or enough credits to fulfill their freshman year requirements, it’s rewarding to provide a path to college for many types of students,” said Klinsky.

In the long term, Modern States aspires to help over one million learners earn credit at no tuition cost, saving students and taxpayers approximately $1,000 per course and over $1 billion in total.


Learning Innovation | November 2018: Coursera, Udacity, Facebook, Linkedin Learning, Bloomberg…

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Michael Bloomberg will donate $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins. This private donation, the largest ever to any educational institution, will allow this university to offer free scholarships.

Udacity is increasing again the pricing of Nanodegrees, according to Class Central. For example, Blockchain Developer is jumping from $999 to $1998.

MOOCs must overcome four challenges to survive: low completion rates, high cheating rates, lack of awareness about their existence, and unsustainable revenue models. Prof. Ignacio Despujol, an expert on MOOCs, gave an interesting talk about it.


Online degrees are under intense scrutiny. Georgia Tech’s model is an example to follow. An excellent analysis by Manoel Cortes, a software engineer, and online student.

• e-Literate has posted a view of the 30 largest online enrollments systems in the U.S., with LMS usage and trends since 2012

The online degree market is entering an era characterized by a growing overlap with non-degree learning, MOOC-based degrees, and consumer preferences –analyzes Sean Gallagher in edSurge.

Non-degree online courses and programs are slowly remaking the online degree market, with their career advancement – oriented modular and flexible credentials.


Coursera is preparing 100 new courses and 20 Specializations in Spanish. This catalog will include topics like artificial intelligence, web development, data analysis and more.

Coursera’s co-founder Andrew Ng will teach, in early 2019, “AI for Everyone”, a non-technical course on artificial intelligence.

• Microsoft Launches a Series of 10 Courses about Cybersecurity on edX.org


Facebook has launched a free, open educational platform, which offers training in digital marketing and other career-focused skills. So far this site includes 13 ultra-short courses.

• LinkedIn Learning is expanding its content library with five new partners, including Harvard Business Publishing.


Arizona State University (ASU) is going all in with adaptive and active learning – based degree programs after succeeding with several programs.

Gartner has come out with the top tech trends for 2019


• Education Calendar by IBL News

This newsletter about learning innovation is a monthly report compiled by the IBL News journalism staff, in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company that builds data-driven learning ecosystems and courses with Open edX. If you enjoy what you read please consider forwarding it to spread the word. Click here to subscribe. 

IBL Newsletter #16 – October 2018

Microsoft Launches a Series of 10 Courses about Cybersecurity on edX.org

Microsoft has introduced a free 10-course professional program on Cybersecurity, intended to help identify threats early on and minimize the impact of breaches.

Each course requires 8 to 12 hours of study time, and will run for three months, starting at the beginning of each quarter – in January, April, July and October 2019.

However, the first course, Enterprise Security Fundamentals, is already available.

The program, which includes short video lessons, labs, quizzes and community interaction, is hosted on edX.org. The cost is $99 per course if the student pursues a “verified certificate”.

  1. Enterprise Security Fundamentals
  2. Threat Detection: Planning for a Secure Enterprise
  3. Planning a Security Incident Response
  4. PowerShell Security Best Practices
  5. Managing Identity
  6. Security in Office 365; Securing Data in Azure and SQL Server; or Microsoft SharePoint 2016: Authentication and Security
  7. Windows 10 Security Features
  8. Windows Server 2016 Security Features
  9. Microsoft Azure Security Services
  10. Microsoft Professional Capstone on Cybersecurity


Three Professors from Queensland University Awarded with the 2018 edX Prize

The University of Queensland’s Professors Blake McKimmie, Barbara Masser and Mark Horswill, who taught the course, “The Psychology of Criminal Justice”, received the 2018 edX Prize for their contributions in online teaching and learning, as well as a commitment to open education. The award was presented this Friday, November 16, during the edX Global Forum conference in Boston.

“The Psychology of Criminal Justice is a thrilling and engaging look at the psychological elements of the crime and criminal justice set against the backdrop of a hypothetical murder. Its incredibly innovative use of realistic drama combined with novel assessments to reinforce the course content,” explained Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX.

This “must take” self-paced, free course has been running on edX.org since 2014.

The edX Prize nominated ten finalists in September.




Another announcement made during the conference was that the 2019 Global Forum will be held at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), in South China.

Reach of the edX.org and Open edX Platform In Numbers

EdX has attracted 40,000 credit-elegible learners, according to the data disclosed yesterday at the 2018 Global Forum Event in Boston.

Overall, the number of learners has jumped to 18 million, while there are 2,400 courses included in the platform.

Nine fully online Master’s degrees, 14 new MicroMasters, and 54 professional certificate programs have been launched in the last year.

The numbers about the Open edX platform reflect that this open source, community-based initiative shows a wider reach than the edX.org project.

  • 21 million learners
  • 25,000+ courses in 34 languages
  • 1,800 instances, or Open edX-based projects, spread across 70 countries



NYU, Western Governors and HEC Montreal Join the edX Consortium

The edX organization announced yesterday that NYU, Western Governors University and HEC Montreal have joined its consortium.

The announcement was made by edX’s CEO, Anant Agarwal [in the picture], during the edX Global Forum event in Boston, MA.

In addition to those universities, edX has attracted other private and public institutions as partners, such as:

  • AfghanX (Afghanistan)
  • Logyca (Colombia)
  • BrainLab (Hong Kong)
  • Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (Morocco)
  • Universidad del Rosario (Argentina)
  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University (Qatar)

In the last year, other organizations who joined edX, and whose courses have been publicized, are Indiana University, IBM, AWS and SGA Academy.

In total, edX has over 130 partners.


Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) will start a Professional Certificate program called Solar Energy in Hot Desert Climates in January 7, 2019. It will consists of two courses: Solar Resource Assessment in Desert Climates and Using Photovoltaic Technology in Desert Climates.

EdX Studies the Viability of the MicroBachelors New Credential

edX Inc. continues analyzing the viability of launching stackable, customizable MicroBachelors’ degrees, which could be priced at $10,000.

Anant Agarwal, CEO at the organization, spoke recently about it in a conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper.

This is not the first time edX considers this credential, which, if successful, would be adopted by multiple universities. On January 26, IBL News reported about this idea, after the edX organization received a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation.

“Education in five to ten years will become modular, omnichannel, and lifelong. We are going to make it so,” said Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, during a higher-education innovation summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Education.

“We will launch MicroBachelors within the next year or two and do the same modularization with the bachelor’s degree,” he said. “We’ve already launched Global Freshman Academy with ASU, that is a precursor to the MicroBachelors.”

The MicroBachelors project mirrors the MicroMasters’ initiative. The course content would be accessible for free, and the learner would pay only for certificates and assessments, according to edX’s new policy (which will be implemented in December). Later, students could convert their credit into undergraduate degrees. The idea follows Anant Agarwal’s view of education as a lego.

edX CEO’s strategy will be shared this week, during the edX Global Forum Conference, which will take place this Thursday and Friday in Boston, MA.