"The Ultimate Guide To Open edX" Released


We have finally launched “The Ultimate Guide To Open edX” ebook.

It is free to download, it doesn’t require registration, it contains no ads, and it is released under a Creative Commons license. It will be continuously updated –just check the version number on the second page.

You can download it through our webpage wherein we will comment on developments.

This book is the first guide related to Open edX disruptive technology. Created by MIT and Harvard, and supported by Google, Stanford and 45 international universities, Open edX is a global success:

The eBook, written by education and media entrepreneur Michael Amigot, is divided into the following sections:


Big Analysis at EdX Finds That 6 to 9 minutes Is the Ideal Length for an Educational Video


With 2.7 million users around the world and 3 billion records of data related to student activity, the edX platform is “a particle accelerator for learning”. That is what the president of edX, Anant Agarwal, said during the LinuxCon conference in Chicago.

“We can learn how students learn by mining the big data of learning”. For instance, the big data analysis found that between 6 and 9 minutes is the ideal length of time for an educational video. Anything longer and students begin to drop off.


Best Open edX Samples


We like to say that Open edX is the most visually engaging learning platform in the world. But what are the best Open edX graphic layouts?

In an ebook we are about to launch –“The Ultimate Guide to Open edX”– we review what we consider to be the best user interfaces built with Open edX software.

Here is a preview of the list –although we avoid ranking the platforms.




Annotation Tools Inside Open edX Introduce a New Paradigm in Online Learning

The annotations feature in the Open edX platform introduces a new paradigm in online learning. In a way, it disrupts traditional learning and teaching models. Basically, digital annotation tools allow for contextual commentaries and conceptual tagging of media fragments inside online courses.

In 2013-14, HarvardX produced three media-rich tools to annotate text passages, video clips and high definition images. “Poetry in America: Whitman” was the first course with digital annotations. Students had the opportunity to virtually annotate assigned poems much in the way they would do it by hand in a brick-and-mortar classroom. They viewed and interacted with each other as they annotated and explored poems, “making the study of poetry a conversation instead of a solitary endeavor,” explained Leah Reis-Dennis, from HarvardX (See video above).

Is Open Online Learning The Future of Education? Watch The Brightest Minds' Analysis

One of the revealing conclusions of the Learning With MOOCs conference -celebrated last week in Cambridge, Mass., with participants from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Goole, the Gates Foundation and Kaplan– is that MOOCs and open virtual courses are part of the much larger trend towards open online learning, regardless of the success or failure of existing providers such as Coursera, edX or Udacity.

What open online learning and teaching –and open should not be confused with free– will look like in 2020 is unpredictable. But one thing is for sure: many of the brightest educators in the planet are committed to create this future together, as it was shown in the conference.

Here is the complete program with all of the recorded keynotes and roundtables –over thirty videos to watch!

For us one of the most interesting sessions was this one: How MOOC Platforms Enable Learning. Panelists included Anant Agarwal (edX), Vivek Goel (Coursera), Melissa Loble (Canvas), and Mark Lester (FutureLearn). The moderator was Diana Oblinger (EDUCAUSE).



GW Online, Another Great Open edX Initiative


Another great initiative by the Open edX community. George Washington University has launched GW Online Open edX.

This platform, sponsored by Amazon and Nvidia, has been designed and built with IBL Studios Education’s technical support.

The first course, titled “Practical Numerical Methods with Python”, offers an innovative experience based on distributed knowledge and open education. The on-campus course at George Washington will be connected with three other simultaneous courses, at Southampton University (UK), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia), and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Mooc.org Launch Delayed Until "Later this Year"


Still no launch date for the mooc.org portal, which was scheduled for June 2014.

Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, disclosed in his blog that the mooc.org portal will be launched “later this year”. He revealed also that “more than 5,000 inquiries from schools, teachers, foundations and individuals who want to be part of the edX open-source learning movement” have been received via the mooc.org website.

“Mooc.org remains a priority for edX. We learn something new every day from every new inquiry and innovation we receive from our growing group of members, collaborators and contributors. And this community is at the core of our vision–to create a space where we can all be learners and where we can all be teachers–as we continue to increase access to quality education for everyone around the world.”

Open edX Technical Conference, November 19, in Boston

Another important date for the Open edX community will be November 19th, 2014. The “Open edX Technical Conference” will take place on that day in Boston. It’s  intended “for developers, technologists, adopters, IT leads, education specialists, integrators, or anyone who wants to learn about Open edX, or share the experience with the platform.”

The conference will be a mixture of speakers and breakout sessions followed by a social gathering with food and beverage.

George Washington University Launches a Groundbreaking, Collaborative Learning Venture Through a New Open edX Platform


One the most-innovative trends in higher education is that of distributed knowledge.

George Washington University (GWU) is launching this fall semester a groundbreaking example of inter-institutional collaboration in open education through a MOOC titled “Practical Numerical Methods with Python”, which will be run also as a flipped classroom experience (on-campus and online).

Four instructors from four continents will collaborate in the design and development of course content and learning objectives, and all materials will be released under an open, Creative Commons licensing model, through this newly created Open edX platform: GW Online.

GWU’s office of the Vice Provost for Online Education, Academic Technologies and Professor Lorena Barba –in the picture above- will run the project, which will have as participants instructors from Southampton University (UK), Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and KAUST (Saudi Arabia). The initiative has received sponsorship support from Amazon Web Services and NVIDIA. (Disclosure: IBL Studios Education is providing technical support and professional services.)

For the project, GWU will be deploying its own Open edX instance, “without surrendering our IP to for-profits nor subjecting students to creepy data mining,” says Prof. Barba. “We believe that higher education is the core mission of universities and we want to contribute to open education with for-profit companies having only a supporting role.” The course will be aimed at first-year engineering graduate students or advanced seniors. On campus, the partner instructors will manage their course as they see fit. Learning lessons will also be hosted on GitHub and will keenly accept issues and pull requests from students, MOOC participants and observers. One of the goals is to join in scholarly conversations and course activities to keep students engaged and encourage participation. “In other words, we adopt and embrace the open-source model in our educational endeavor,” explains Prof. Barba.

“It’s going to be a “do-it-yourself” adventure, and we expect to encounter snags and make mistakes. But we are convinced that a fully open and connected model for learning is adaptable and self-healing, so we have no worries.” (…) “We want to invite you and every one who is interested in scientific computing to learn (and teach) with us.”


Hybrid Learning Is The New Driving Force In Education


Hybrid learning –the one that blends face-to-face and online courses and uses technology to modify lessons based on the students’ progress– is forcing to rethink the model of teaching and learning. Its positive impact is even higher than MOOCs’.

In fact, an increasing number of experts are putting hybrid courses at the top of the list of innovations.

Examine, for example, this research: “The Innovative University: What College Presidents Think About Change in American Higher Education“. 81 percent of 349 presidents of public and private not-for-profit colleges and universities interviewed feel enthusiastic about mentioned blended learning experiences.

This report, sponsored by Blackboard and The Chronicle of Higher Education, “emphasizes that schools of all types and leaders at all levels are being forced to reevaluate what it means to be relevant. We need a re-imagined educational experience that directly connects learners to success,” said Jay Bhatt, CEO of Blackboard.

EdX CEO: When Students Pay a Fee for ID-Verified Certifications the Pass Rate is 60 Percent


With 23 blended learning classes involving 2,800 students on campus, MIT is one of the most aggressive universities adopting blended learning.

With this experience and the 3 million records gathered from the edX platform –co-founded by MIT and Harvard–, it is time to study how people learn and re-engineer teaching and learning technology –namely, the Open edX platform.

“We have terabytes of data, including students working on problems,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX and MIT teacher, in a Campus Technology keynote speech.

“We can capture every answer entered. We know what they’re doing at what time. What country they come from. We can look at what a student did to get an answer”. “We know what parts of the learning experience contribute to successful outcomes, and whether that’s tied to certain kinds of students. We are using this to learn how students learn.”

One promising idea is to use the platform to blend the best of online and in-person education, and continuously improve the technology in much the same way that Google tweaks its services.

Anant Agarwal noted that San Jose State University has taught the circuits and electronic course in a blended environment four times and has seen the failure rate drop from around 40 percent to 9 percent. Now 11 schools in the California State University system are adopting the same approach.

A solid-state chemistry class at MIT, led by professor Michael Cima, incorporates the idea that the entire course is a continuous exam. Students solve problems online.

In some scenarios, learning becomes a sort of video game, wherein instant feedback is a powerful component of gamification.

Another interesting data regarding MOOCs and their 5 percent pass rates: when students pay a fee for ID-verified certifications, the pass rate is closer to 60 percent.