O’Reilly Media Won’t Organize the 2019 JupyterCon Event

O’Reilly Media will no longer organize the JupyterCon conferences. Therefore, the projected 2019 JupyterCon conference won’t take place, and the next annual conference may be deferred until 2020.

Project Jupyter reported today on its blog about this sudden breaking off, although it didn’t disclose the cause. “We would like to thank the team at O’Reilly Media for partnering with us to offer JupyterCon 2017 and 2018. Their expertise in creating and managing complex events with hundreds of attendees was invaluable, and we learned a great deal from working with them,” wrote.

Project Jupyter management team is now organizing a committee to re-evaluate the situation and investigate different conference formats, including a lower-cost one, and explore new venues and locations.

In addition to the annual conference, Jupyter has other local gatherings which will continue to proceed, such as Jupyter Days, Jupyter Community Workshops, and local code sprints and open studios.

Insights on Georgia Tech’s Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity on edX.org

Nelson Baker, Dean of Professional Education at Georgia Tech, in conversation with Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, shared his view on the Master of Science in Cybersecurity online degree (OMS Cybersecurity), which was announced in the fall on edX and whose first cohort of students will start this January.

Intended for thousands of working professionals with full-time jobs and family commitments who are unable to attend on-campus classes, this degree, offered at a tuition of less than $10,000, follows the groundbreaking online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS), and Online Master of Science in Analytics (OMS Analytics). Diploma, curriculum, content, rigor, and requirements are the same as the residential program.

  • “It includes collaborative tools to enable learners to interact with each other, with their instructors, and with their course content, which is crucial to the online learner experience. The students build powerful learner communities and professional networks by collaborating on the official forum, as well as by using unofficial tools such as Slack or Google Forums.” 
  • “These degrees offer more than content at-scale. They also offer networks at-scale that allow learners to build worldwide professional networks that they would not be able to build if they were in a traditional on-campus master’s program.”
  • “Our online degrees-at-scale can also open doors for new graduates that may normally be closed to them.”
  • Students in the on-campus M.S. in Cybersecurity are traditional graduate students, who recently completed an undergraduate degree, while the learners taking the OMS Cybersecurity are mainly working professionals. Ninety-seven percent of the applicants admitted to the OMS Cybersecurity program are already employed, and a third of them already have graduate degrees. They range from 20 years old to 72 years old and represent 27 countries. The majority of applicants come from the U.S. with a third of them coming from Georgia.”
  • “The main reason we’re able to offer this program at this price point is the massive online delivery technology that enables us to serve large numbers of qualified students from all over the world. Also, while there is no difference in the degree requirements or academic rigor between the on-campus and online degrees, we offer fewer elective choices in the OMS Cybersecurity to keep costs down. Another reason for the significantly reduced cost of the online degree is that online students don’t require the physical infrastructure and amenities needed by on-campus students.”


Forbes: How Is Higher Ed Helping To Close The Global Knowledge Gap?
Georgia Tech: Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity
edX‘s Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity





Anant Agarwal and Larry Hedge Each Receive $1.8M in a Prize Set by a Chinese Philanthropist

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, and Larry Hedges, Chair of the Department of Statistics at Northwestern University, were honored this week in Hong Kong and respectively received the 2018 Yidan Prize for Education Development and 2018 Yidan Prize for Education Research, which comes with a gold medal and a whopping amount of $3.87 million (HK$30 million) for each.

Dr. Charles Chen Yidan, Founder of the Yidan Prize, along with Mrs. Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, witnessed by 350 guests, presented the 2018 Yidan Prize for Education Development and Yidan Prize for Education Research, during a ceremony which took place on December 10.

Anant Agarwal said: “We’re really honored and fortunate to have won the Yidan Prize. We want to use the prize money to launch radical new efforts that would enable much younger learners, both at the late high school and college level, to get radically increased access and quality for their learning. edX today has 18 million students from every single country in the world, and I would love to see in the fullness of time, billions of students routinely accessing a quality education like this and education being affordable for everybody everywhere with a will to learn.” 

Larry Hedges, renowned for his development of the statistical methods for meta-analysis (SMMS), said: “I am honored to be the Yidan Prize laureate and I’m going to use whatever I gain from this prize to try and increase the profile of evidence in education for the purposes of improving education. It’s important that we avoid any mistakes that can be used to discredit education, to discredit evidence in education science, because there are people who would prefer to make policy decisions on the basis of preferences and superstitions and prejudices rather than on the basis of evidence.”

The Yidan Prize, the world’s largest award in education, was established in 2016 by Chinese philanthropist and entrepreneur Charles Chen Yidan, a co-founder of Shenzhen-based giant Tencent. This year the prize saw around 1,000 nominations from over 92 countries.

The Yidan Prize consists of two awards: the Yidan Prize for Education Research and the Yidan Prize for Education Development. The Yidan Prize Laureate receives a gold medal and a total sum of HK$30 million (around US$3.9 million).

Half of this amount is in the form of a cash prize to the laureate, while the other half is a project fund, according to the official press release. To ensure transparency and sustainability, the prize is managed by Yidan Prize Foundation and governed by an independent trust with an endowment of HK$2.5 billion (around US$323 million).

Corporate Announcements:
• Asia One: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Honors Two Outstanding Scholars for Their Contributions to Education Reform at Yidan Prize Award Presentation Ceremony

• Asia Corporate News Network – ACN Newswire: Second Yidan Prize Summit Sets Forth Ideas for Future


MIT’s Private Open edX Platform Used by 99% of Students on Campus

Open edX is the platform of choice for residential learning at MIT. This institution finds it convenient for flipping the classroom and providing assessments and exams.

Sanjay Sarma, vice president for open learning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the Board of Directors at the edX Consortium [in the picture], talks about it on an interview at edSurge.

“Ninety-nine percent of our students will have seen the edX platform on campus regardless of whether they ever take it on edX because we have a private instance of edX on campus for our students. And what do professors do with it? They flip the classroom. They give instant feedback on exams. A lot of exams are going online.”

Mr. Sarma also talks about the need to smartly deal with data by doing intentional experiments.

“So for example, I could be in a video and change my background to blue, and see if people like it more. That’s an intentional experiment. But if I just take all the logs of this video, it’s very hard for me to figure out whether people want blue.”

“When we started using edX, there was enthusiasm that somehow magic would fall out of the data. We did learn a lot. We learned, for example, the demographics. We learned about our users. We learned about their career choices. But it started plateauing some time ago. We stopped getting a lot of insights out of the data.”


Harvard University Enhances its DART Tool to Reuse edX Content on Campus

Harvard University – with 100 MOOCs featuring 26,000 videos, problems and text pages on edX.org – continues to experiment with technology to allow for the broad reuse of edX content for its on-campus Canvas platform.

Its new technical solution is called DART: Digital Assets for Reuse in Teaching, a system that allows any Harvard instructor to utilize HarvardX edX content on their on-campus courses via the Canvas LMS using the LTI standard interoperability tool. [See a screenshot above].

“Content is discoverable through search and recommendation interfaces, and the embed process is reduced to a few clicks. The initiative is well aligned with the envisioned NGDLE (next-generation digital learning environment), focusing on platform interoperability (edX to Canvas) and microservices (small isolated coding blocks) that appropriately isolate development to allow for quick iteration,” explained Daniel Seaton, a product owner for the DART project at Harvard University, in an article on Inside The Higher Education.

Mr. Seaton recommends that the edX Consortium – which hosts 2,200 courses – explore the possibility of extending these interoperability technologies to other members, creating a sharing economy for MOOC content. “When so many institutions have committed to open online courses, it’s natural to ask how these materials can be used to explore new pathways in both existing and nascent learning settings,” he says.



Reinventing the College Degree: A Future with Modular Credentials

Rapidly changing technology is impacting the workforce and the economy, highlighting the need to be continually learning and refreshing skills in order to stay relevant. Additionally, the jobs of the future will require a set of skills from a variety of subject areas. “We have to rethink our education system,” writes Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, on a column in Quartz.

A summary of Mr. Agarwal’s ideas:

  • Lego-like modular education will allow students to personalize their career, combining humanities with tech skills. “In this future, imagine that instead of graduating with a single degree from one university, you will design your own personalized degree from many online or residential programs. Smaller, modular chunks of education will reign, and our learning experience will become incredibly flexible and customizable.”

  • MOOCs at scale, with personalized pacing and open admissions, will be part of these modular degrees. “We envision a global credit-exchange network that will enable students to create their own customizable degrees, comprised of several credentials from a variety of higher education institutions. This is already starting to happen as MOOC providers and their institutional partners offer more programs and credentials that are valuable as standalone certificates, and that are credit-eligible at participating colleges.”

  • Modular credentials will be ideal for working professionals who want to update their skillset to suit the shifting job market, better preparing students and adults alike for an excitingly unpredictable future.”

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…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]


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.