Learning At Scale | January 2020: MIT, JetBlue, Visa, Microsoft, Instructure / Canvas LMS, LearnLaunch…

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JANUARY 2020  –  NEWSLETTER #30  |  Breaking news at IBL News  |  Noticias en Español


Higher Ed

• The U.S. Shows as the Number 1 in Education Across the World, According to the 2020 Best Countries Report

• MIT Suspends Professor Seth Lloyd Over a Detailed Report About His Ties to Epstein

• Federal Students Loan Portfolio Tops $1.51 Trillion After a 5% Increase


Corporate Training

• JetBlue’s Sponsored Education Program Has 700 Crewmembers Pursuing Undergraduate Degrees

• Visa Launches a Certification Program to Train Payment Card Disputes Professionals

• Microsoft Retires Its Professional Program and Opens a Role-Based Certification Site


2020 / 2019 Review

• JavaScript, HTML5, C# and CSS, the Most Benchmarked Skills of 2019, According to Pluralsight

• U.S. Education Technology Companies Raised $1.6 Billion in VC Funding in 2019

• 2019’s Most Popular Online Courses According to Class Central

• A Dynamic 2019 for Open edX, edX, Coursera, and Udacity: IBL’s Top-20 Headlines

• 2019 Year Review: MIT’s Epstein Scandal, Sale of Canvas LMS, 2U’s Collapse, and Pearson’s CEO’s Resignation

• IBL News Releases the 2020 Calendar



The AACU Conference in DC Says that Liberal Education Is Key for Employability [Video]

• The LearnLauch Conference this Month in Boston Expects 1,500 Educators and Investors


Instructure / Canvas LMS

• Instructure Will Continue Reducing Spending But Refrain From Laying Off More Employees

• Analysis: Is Instructure’s Transaction Rigged? SEC’s Statements Show a Transparent Process

• Instructure Accuses Dissident Investor Praesidium of “Opportunistic Tactics” to Derail the Transaction

• The CEO of Instructure May Reap Over $22M After the Sale of the Company

• Instructure Moves Forward with Thoma Bravo’s $2 Billion Acquisition Proposal



• 2U Hires Advisers to Explore a Sale While an Activist Investor Continues to Push


2020 Upcoming Events

• Education Calendar  –  JAN  |  FEB  |  MARCH  |  APRIL  |  MAY  |  JUNE  |  JULY – DEC  |  Conferences in Latin America & Spain


This newsletter is created in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company specialized in open-source learning platforms. Read the latest IBL Newsletter   |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

Stanford University Joins the edX Consortium Seven Years Later

IBL News | New York

Stanford University joined the edX consortium as an institutional member, contributing with a portfolio of 11 courses ranging from computer science and algorithms to humanities classes in areas such as history and government.

Stanford University’s supporting role at the creation of edX and its open-source code—Open edX—in 2013, was crucial.

However, the institution refrained to join the edX consortium, even criticizing the governance of Open edX through an elaborated report. (Later, the edX Consortium responded, and even it celebrated the Open edX annual developers conference at Stanford’s campus in 2016.)

The courses that Stanford is posting now on edX.org, are a fraction of the ones hosted at its own Open edX instance, called Lagunita.

“Stanford is a long time Open edX contributor, and this milestone deepens our collaborative relationship, which is founded on a vision to increase access to high-quality education for learners around the world,” wrote Johannes Heinlein, Chief Commerical Officer at edX, on a blog post welcoming the Californian university.

In addition to Stanford, the edX Consortium has announced since November 2019 the incorporation of other universities, such as the United Arab Emirates, Western Governors, National University of Singapore, and Queen’s University Smith School of Business.


These are the Stanford University courses hosted at edX.org:


• News stories about Stanford University at IBL News since 2013


JetBlue’s Sponsored Education Program Has 700 Crewmembers Pursuing Undergraduate Degrees

IBL News | New York

JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) announced that nearly 700 of their crewmembers are currently working towards their college degrees through its employer-sponsored education program.

On average, it will take crewmembers about 13 months to complete an associate degree, and 16 months for a bachelor’s degree, through JetBlue’s Scholars program.

The airline covers most of the costs for undergraduate degrees, with crewmembers saving an average of $14,000 on tuition. It totals over $6.5 million of savings in overall college costs since the program started, according to the company’s data.

Thomas Edison State University (TESU) is JetBlue’s sole provider of degrees. The four areas of study offered for a degree include business, aviation, liberal studies and information technology (IT).

JetBlue Scholars utilizes low-cost alternatives for obtaining college credits, including learning platforms like Study.com, Sophia.org, and StraighterLine.com. These courses are accepted for college credit at partner school TESU.

JetBlue Scholars, which also includes a pathway opportunity for earning master’s degrees, announced in December that it conferred 250 degrees in three years.

Launched in 2016, JetBlue Scholars was developed based on crewmember feedback. According to the company, the program has proven to be a valuable retention and development tool, leading to increased crewmember engagement and loyalty, which results in a greater return on investments for JetBlue.

Visa Launches a Certification Program to Train Payment Card Disputes Professionals

IBL News | New York

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) plans to launch a new certification program and fund up to 500 scholarships on dispute resolution – an area in high demand across the payments ecosystem.

Visa’s new certification program is designed to train individuals as dispute resolution professionals, a role that is currently in high demand across the financial and payment processors industry.

Intended to train individuals to manage payment card disputes, the program will include multiple days of training and several professional-level certification exams.

Details for how to apply for the scholarship will be disclosed in early 2020.

Visa is one of the 350 companies and organizations that signed the White House Pledge to America’s Workers—a promise to expand programs that are designed to educate, train and reskill more than 14.3 million students and workers.

Over the next five years, Visa has pledged to help create enhanced career opportunities for 14,500 individuals, including through increased apprenticeships and work-based learning programs, continuing education, on-the-job training and reskilling.

“At Visa, we are working to help strengthen the pipeline of qualified workers,” said Visa Chairman and CEO Al Kelly.

Certificate programs offer an alternative to a traditional degree, giving candidates the opportunity to develop the skills and experiences needed in a shorter period of time and for less cost. A Georgetown University study found that those who hold certificates receive a 20% wage premium over those who do not.

Instructure Will Continue Reducing Spending But Refrain From Laying Off More Employees

IBL News | New York

Instructure (NYSE: INST) quietly continues reducing its spending on marketing, software, travel, and office space, before the planned acquisition of Thoma Bravo will take effect on February 14.

However, Instructure doesn’t plan on any additional layoffs following the closure of the transaction, sources told IBL News.

Last week, Instructure, home of Canvas LMS, went through a restructuring process which resulted in 100 full-time employees losing their jobs. They were primarily working on the money-losing Bridge corporate platform.

Despite the fact that private equity firms usually lay off lots of people, Thoma Bravo, the new expected owner, has promised that it won’t reduce Instructure’s staff on the new path to profitability.

The company’s path forward –reflected in the agreement and plan of the merging of December 4, 2019– will be voted by shareholders on February 13, during a special meeting at Salt Lake City headquarters.

If the sale is approved and completed, shareholders will receive $47.60 in cash per share. (See above the three questions the stockholders will vote).

According to a presentation filed with the SEC, Instructure expects to see 17% year-over year-organic growth in 2020. This is followed by predictions of 15% growth for 2021, 12% in 2022, and 10% in 2023.

For the third quarter ended December 31, the company reported subscription revenue of $63.9 million, an increase of 25% over the previous quarter in 2018, as well as a net cash balance of $116.8 million.




The AACU Conference in DC Says that Liberal Education Is Key for Employability [Video]

IBL News | Washington DC

Over 2,100 educators and academic leaders attended this week the AAC&U annual meeting in Washington DC, networking and exploring ways to shape the future of higher education.

Lynn Pasquerella, President at national association AAC&U, highlighted, “liberal education is essential for students’ future employability and democratic vitality.

The conference hosted more than 200 talks, forums, and sessions, including an opening plenary on “the Enduring Value of Liberal Education”, exclusively featured at IBL News –watch below.

In addition, AAC&U, Washington DC-based Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced the winner of its Frederic W. Ness Book Award, Jim Crow Campus: Higher Education and the Struggle for a New Southern Social Order (Teachers College Press). The 2020 Ness Award was formally presented to the author, Joy Ann Williamson-Lott, Dean of the Graduate School, and Professor at the University of Washington College. The book illustrates the power of student and faculty activists in the black freedom struggle and the anti-Vietnam War movement to advance social justice.

In a room full of attendees, Mary Dana Hinton, President, College of Saint Benedict, said during the main plenary session, “the power to embrace liberal education and change institutions is within this room”. Lynn Pasquerella elaborated on the need of finding” a compelling narrative.”

Andrew Delbanco, President, The Teagle Foundation and Professor at Columbia University, provided perspectives regarding the direction that institutions should take. Among other ideas, he mentioned the success of the online degrees at Georgia Tech.

Scott Jaschik, Editor at Inside Higher Ed, agreed on the value of liberal education and mentioned the case of the exploitation of adjunct professors.


Coursera Introduces Its First Fully Online Bachelor’s from an American University

IBL News | New York

The University of North Texas (UNT) will offer the first bachelor’s degree from a U.S. university on Coursera.

The Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) program creates an affordable and attractive degree pathway for community college students, military veterans, international learners, and non-traditional students.

For example, students who successfully complete the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, hosted on Coursera, will be able to earn credit toward the degree.

“The program will offer students the same engaging support, personal interaction, and career services as our on-campus B.A.A.S. program to ensure they are set up for success post-graduation,” said Dr. Jennifer Cowley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at UNT.

This four-year degree will cost $330 per credit hour. Students who complete 45 credit hours will see a total tuition cost of $14,850.

The university announced that it will provide each applicant with a pre-advisor to help create a customized degree plan. Once admitted to the program, the student will receive guidance through a permanent advising team.

The B.A.A.S. will begin in fall 2020, while applications will open this February.

“An estimated 35% of jobs in the U.S. require at least a bachelor’s degree, yet 36 million Americans have attended some college, but never completed their degree,” commented in a blog post Dil Sidhu, Chief Content Officer at Coursera.

Harvard and Amgen Announce LabXchange.org, an Open Platform with Scientific Content

IBL News | New York

Harvard University and the Amgen Foundation announced this week the launch of the LabXchange.org platform, intended to promote science education, mainly among high school and college students.

The free online tool provides access to a library of educational content, including videos, interactive simulations, and assessments. It also offers the ability to mix and match materials, empowering teachers to create flexible learning pathways for classes or personalized instruction for students.

The platform includes a global networking functionality, enabling teachers to collaborate across the scientific community.

Dr. Robert Lue, principal investigator of LabXchange and professor of the Practice of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard, said, “too many high school and college students lack the opportunity to directly explore the scientific process – where you build a hypothesis, understand a method, and determine how to apply it to an appropriate experimental problem.”

LabXchange builds upon other Amgen Foundation programs, such as the Amgen Biotech Experience and Amgen Scholars, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard Unversity (Harvard FAS).

The platform itself contains content from multiple partners and sources, including Khan Academy –so far the most active contributor:

The platform is built upon the open-source Open edX platform. Last year, Harvard committed to releasing the whole code on GitHub, although no mention was made on the last public announcement.


Dr. Chuck’s ‘Python for Everybody’ Full Class on YouTube and Other Formats

IBL News | New York

Over 40,000 users have taken FreeCodeCamp.org open courses, including Dr. Chuck’s ‘Python for Everybody’ full online class.

This course teaches the basics of programming computers using Python 3. It has no pre-requisites and is aimed at anyone with moderate computer experience.

Created by University of Michigan’s Professor Charles Severance (a.k.a. Dr. Chuck), the course is offered for free in several formats:

These are the topics covered:

  • Installing Python
  • Why Program?
  • Variables, expressions, and statements
  • Conditional Execution
  • Functions
  • Loops and Iterations
  • Strings
  • Files
  • Lists
  • Dictionaries
  • Tuples
  • Regular Expressions
  • Network Programming
  • Using Web Services
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Databases
  • Data Visualization


JavaScript, HTML5, C# and CSS, the Most Benchmarked Skills of 2019, According to Pluralsight

IBL News | New York

Pluralsight.com released yesterday its 2019 Year in Tech report, which displays trending data.

The report aggregates 23 billion data points in order to rank the popularity of languages, tools, and frameworks within software development, IT ops, data and security.

The most popular courses at Pluralsight.com include the following:

On Security:

  • Getting started with Kubernetes
  • Angular: Getting Started
  • Introduction to SQL
  • Ethical Hacking: Understanding Ethical Hacking
  • AWS Fundamentals for System Administrators

In terms of trending technologies, the skills most demanded in 2019 were:

On Software Dev:

  1. JavaScript
  2. Java
  3. HTML
  4. Python
  5. C++



  1. JavaScript
  2. Java
  3. HTML
  4. Python
  5. C++


On Data:

  1. R
  2. Microsoft SQL
  4. Google Analytics
  5. Tensorflow


On Security:

  1. Kali Linux
  2. Cloudflare
  3. CISSP
  4. Certified Ethical Hacker
  5. CompTIA Security+


The most benchmarked skills of 2019 were:

  1. JavaScript
  2. HTML5
  3. C#
  4. CSS
  5. Python
  6. Java
  7. Angular
  8. Networking Fundamentals
  9. Google: Associate Android Developer
  10. React
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