Google turns off its ad scanning in Gmail and education apps

Google has announced this week in an online statement that it had permanently removed all ads from its Apps for Education, including its Gmail service. The search giant will no longer collect or use student data.

The change comes as Google is facing growing scrutiny over how it collects and analyzes data for advertising, particularly among students.

About 40 percent of nonprofit colleges use Google for institutional email.

Udacity will charge students who want a certificate


Udacity, one of the big three MOOC providers, will no longer give learners free, “non-verified” certificates.

People will still be able to view Udacity’s online course materials without paying. However, those who want a credential will be charged.

Lately Udacity has been designing courses at a cost of $150 per month that include contact with human coaches, project-based assignments, and job-placement services.

How to choose the right LMS for your K-12 school


A great LMS (Learning Management System) can improve the teaching and learning of teachers and students.

But how to does one choose the right one?

The K12 Director of Instructure / Canvas LMS has come up with some tips. Let us summarize them while we add our view.

The perfect LMS platform should:

      • Open doors for teaching and learning in a way that is intuitive and easy.
      • Amplify schools’ strengths, accelerate progress toward goals and support future needs.
      • Integrate blended and online delivery models easier.
      • Suggest new ways of designing and teaching online courses.
      • Engage users by encouraging interaction and empowering to take ownership of their own learning.
      • Feature fresh navigation and custom toolset.
      • Reduce the impact on faculty of IT.
      • Be highly scalable and flexible to adapt and grow with your district.
      • Integrate with third-party tools through an open API, as well as an app center –such as– “with hundreds of technology tools that teachers can install and use without ever having to talk to IT.
      • Be extremely reliable, with 99.9% uptime possible. Having an LMS down for maintenance, an unexpected outage, causes great stress for students and teachers.
      • Have a partner and service provider that is responsive, supportive and collaborative.
      • Test it previously in a sandbox environment in order to have a first-hand look at the platform’s capabilities. – the largest LMS app ecosystem in the industry


The Canvas Platform team has launched the renewed and refreshed Which is a new public catalog of LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) integrations and 135 of applications.

The improved popular apps include: Khan Academy, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, School Tube, Redirect Tool, Quizlet, etc.

LTI is a standard means of putting remotely hosted, third-party applications onto LMS platforms and educational portals. In other words, an open education technology ecosystem for education.

Canvas has the largest, most open LMS app ecosystem in the industry.

“An open education technology ecosystem creates more opportunities for innovation to thrive,” said Jared Stein, vice president of research and education at Instructure in a statement. “The new website encourages startups and innovators to create apps that work across LMS providers. This means less time integrating one-off technology and more time designing tools and curriculum for new ways of learning.”


Amazon-style users' reviews in the 'MOOCsphere' – Decide whether to take that course or not

Amazon-style users’ reviews arrive in the moocsphere.

On each course’s description page, MOOCs platform has started to display a sidebar with reviews, star ratings, and in-depth comments. For this feature, Edx has teamed up with CourseTalk.

By reading peers’ reviews, users can decide whether they should take a course or not.

  • Prospective students will be able to quickly evaluate if an online course is a good fit for them before they enroll.
  • Professors will be able to have their work recognized (or not).
  • Students will help to identify best practices in online teaching and learning.
  • Academic organizations will gain recognition and help increase demand for their courses.



A MOOC to make blended learning available to educators

Blended learning –the strategic combination of face-to-face and online learning experiences– is growing in popularity within higher education and K-12 settings.

Well, now there is a free MOOC intended to provide assistance when developing and designing blended learning courses. BlendKit2014 – Becoming a Blended Learning Designer is a five-week MOOC that starts in April 21. It is offered on by Educause and the University of Central Florida.

The creators will share the valuable tools, information, and methods that have been developed during the past two decades. The course involves:

  • Readings from scholarly works pertaining to blended learning
  • Document templates and practical step-by-step “how to” guides
  • Blogging/social networking interaction opportunities
  • Regular interactions with facilitators and students
  • Expert and peer assessment and critique on design work

Participants may choose to pursue a credential from the Universal Central Florida/EDUCAUSE as “Certified Blended Learning Designer”, as well as digital badge that can be linked to their EDUCAUSE profile and displayed on professional and social networks. For that, they will need to submit a portfolio review –available for $89.



A MOOC on about helping charities the Buffett way

Warren Buffett billionaire appears in videos that are part of a free MOOC offered by his sister Doris on EdX’s platform.

Giving With Purpose: How to get the most out of your charitable giving” course is produced by Northwestern University and Doris Buffett’s Learning By Giving Foundation.

  • It teaches to identify effective nonprofit organizations and apply course concepts by awarding more than $100,000 in grants to student-nominated nonprofits.
  • It is designed to help students “become more purposeful givers and engage more effectively with nonprofit organizations in their communities.”

Harvard Business School launches a learning platform with innovative, interactive tools

learning management system

Harvard Business School has developed a new learning platform called HBX that uses technology to complement Harvard’s and MIT’s edX venture platform.

HBX incorporates real-word case studies, interactive tools and a “cold call” feature through which students must answer questions on the spot while their peers rate their responses. Soon it will introduce HBX Live, a virtual classroom that allows remote participants to directly interact with one another.

The first offering on the HBX platform consists of three non-credit courses: Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. It is designed for undergraduate students, graduate students in non-business fields, and people just starting business careers. The fee for the program is $1,500 per student.

“Our offerings must be highly differentiated from existing alternatives. Our challenge is to establish a standard for excellence in online business education and pedagogy, just as we have established the standard for excellence in our case method classrooms,” says Dean Nitin Nohria.

(HBX’s principles).


Introduction to Linux – Another MOOC hit


Linux OS runs Google, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, Amazon, Android phones and tablets; it powers 94 percent of the world’s supercomputers. In fact, it powers 9 out of the 10 of the world’s stock exchanges and increasingly cars, and, TVs and appliances. Linux is everywhere!

This “Introduction to Linux” course, run by the Linux Foundation, has attracted over 40,000 registrations in just four days.

Demand for Linux talent is on the rise. This course sounds like a great idea!



Want to create a MOOC hit? Learn from this edX course!

open edx

Why people believe weird things, how they form and change opinions, and how we can make better decisions. These are the answers that this course explores: The Science of Everyday Thinking.

This course, on the platform, went live at the beginning of March. So far– it has attracted over 100,000 people.

From the course-design view, this is a sample of how to capture and hold the interest of thousands of people worldwide.

The approach has been to film unscripted, real conversations with several interesting people across a variety of topics, and to film ‘lecture’ content in different, everyday locations, following a documentary style.

Creators traveled the globe to film conversations with clever people such as Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics, Elizabeth Loftus, who pioneered the study of false memories, Ian Frazer who developed a cervical cancer vaccine, and even the creators of MythBusters, about testing claims and distinguishing between fact and fiction.

“We met 22 leading thinkers from across the world and combined hundreds of hours of conversations, demonstrations, and assessment into short, highly polished episodes on how to evaluate claims, learn and remember information better, and ultimately make smarter decisions,” the creators explain.

This is the YouTube Channel where all of the videos are.