Op-Ed: Freshman Year Can Be Free Online For Anyone

[Originally published in The Baltimore Sun]

By James M. Murphy

The American system of higher education is unparalleled. Our public and private institutions — including many right here in Baltimore— offer world-class opportunities in the sciences, humanities and arts, and prepare students for vibrant intellectual and professional lives. However, the benefits of this system are unequally distributed. A college education is unaffordable for many Americans, and its traditionally residential nature creates barriers for adult and non-traditional students. In fact, students previously considered non-traditional are now the norm.

Celebrating its one-year anniversary this August, the philanthropy Modern States Education Alliance harnesses online education to shatter these economic and geographic obstacles. [Disclosure: IBL Education developed the Modern States Open edX platform and the courses]

Students of any age or economic background can utilize Modern States’ catalog of free online freshman-level college classes taught with state-of-the-art technology by professors from some of America’s most renowned universities including Johns Hopkins where I am a member of the math faculty. I teach four Modern States courses, each designed to help students pass a CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) exam offered through the College Board. A passing score on a CLEP exam translates to college credit at thousands of colleges and universities, including University of Maryland, Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Towson University, Community College of Baltimore County, Loyola University of Maryland, Mount Saint Mary’s University and many others in the Mid-Atlantic.

CLEP exams cost $87, substantially less than the thousands of dollars it costs to take an on-campus math class. Moreover, Modern States is paying the exam fee for the first 10,000 students to take a course and corresponding CLEP. These courses are compact, self-contained versions of typical introductory college math classes, and they allow students to refine and develop their skills in mathematics at no cost.

As with my on-campus classes, my Modern States classes begin with fundamentals, then follow the natural progression of the material as it would be taught in the classroom. I take the time to provide detail when working out problems, explaining the crucial steps that are imperative for learning. Providing clear insights is critical in the online format and ensures my contribution as the lecturer and architect for this course is far more valuable than a textbook alone.

My online students are diverse. Some are typical college-age and testing out of introductory courses as a means to make college more affordable. Many are working adults who need an online platform instead of the traditional residential experience. Others are returning veterans, looking to bring themselves up to speed in college mathematics before returning to campus. My Modern States courses democratize education by allowing any student to learn and grow as a student of mathematics, regardless of age, geography or financial means.

The Modern States online courses are not designed to replace the traditional American college experience but to complement it and increase its accessibility. By helping students move past remedial courses through online study and earn credit through the CLEP exam, my Modern States courses provide an on-ramp to college. I believe that online content can never replace the real, human interaction between teacher and pupil, especially in advanced courses and in mentorship. However, I also believe online courses can open the door to higher education for the millions of Americans who believe it is out of reach.

Education changes lives, and the educational opportunities in America are second to none. It is for this reason that new opportunities to democratize education should be seized with both hands.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. Go to www.modernstates.org. All you need is an internet connection and the desire to learn.

James M. Murphy (jmurphy@math.jhu.edu) is a postdoctoral fellow within the Department of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University.

Learning Innovation | August 2018: UPenn, Moodle, Udacity, Blackboard, Skillshare…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]

AUGUST 2018  –  NEWSLETTER #14 ON LEARNING INNOVATION

 

The University of Pennsylvania will launch its first fully online degree in engineering. It will be offered in Coursera for $26,300, one-third of the on-campus version’s price tag.

Private colleges or universities closures will rise to a rate of 11 per year, according to Moody’s.

• Higher-ed is facing worrying financial signs, The Washington Post concluded.

Amazon is not providing schools with good deals despite its reputation for cheaper prices.

Moodle ended its partnership with Blackboard, and it won’t allow to use the “Moodlerooms” name.

Blackboard continued its market decline to 28 percent while its debt took a hit of $1.3 billion.

Four megatrends shaping global education, according to the Chief Product Officer at Trilogy Education.

Udacity’s COO explains how it decides what subjects to offer and who it wants to partner with.

Skillshare raised $28 million to accelerate its model of being a Netflix-like subscription model for online education.

A Georgia State University professor was awarded the McGraw Prize in education (video talk).

Columbia University opened a research center devoted to blockchain technology.

Blackboard updated CourseSites, its free MOOC platform

• Education Events Calendar by IBL News


This newsletter about learning innovation is a monthly report compiled by the IBL News journalist 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. 

Archive:
IBL Newsletter #13 – July 2018
IBL Newsletter #12 – June 2018
IBL Newsletter #11 – May 2018
IBL Newsletter #10 – April 2018
IBL Newsletter #9 – March 15, 2018
IBL Newsletter #8 – March 1, 2018
IBL Newsletter #7 – February 2018
IBL Newsletter #6 – January 31, 2018

IBL Newsletter #5 – January 15, 2018
IBL Newsletter #4 – December 2017
IBL Newsletter #3 – November 2017
IBL Newsletter #2 – October 2017
IBL Newsletter #1 – September 2017

 

Georgia Tech Launches a Master’s Degree for $10K on edX.org

Georgia Tech, a nationally ranked top 10 university, announced this week 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 launch January 7, 2019, with 250 students and will scale over time. Applications for Spring 2019 are open now until October 1, 2018.

The program offers the same curriculum as the on-campus program at Georgia Tech, which has been offered since 2002 at a cost of $20,000 for in-state students and $40,000 for those out-of-state.  It is designed to serve working professionals who can study part-time and earn the degree within two to three years. It is richly technical and offers the same three interdisciplinary tracks available on campus beginning with information security and followed by policy and energy systems.

“We are excited to strengthen our partnership with Georgia Tech by now offering two top-ranked online master’s degrees in high-demand fields to learners all over the world,” said Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX.

OMS Cybersecurity is Georgia Tech’s third at-scale online degree program. It will follow the same model as the groundbreaking online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) program, which launched in 2014 on Udacity with support from AT&T and has enrolled approximately 10,000 students overall for the $6,800 degree. Also, it will follow the success of the Online Master of Science in Analytics (OMS Analytics) launched in 2017 on edX with support from AT&T and Accenture. This OMS Analytics currently has 706 students in its second semester and costs less than $10,000.

 

 

IBM’s CognitiveClass.ai Launches Two Professional Programs on edX.org

After launching its own Open edX installation (Cognitive Class.ai), with seventy courses on data science and cognitive computing, IBM Skills Network will release two Professional Certificate programs on the edX.org portal this year: Building Chatbots Powered by AI and Deep Learning.

“Accelerating the pace of technology especially in the areas of AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Blockchain is proving particularly challenging for traditional educational institutions,” said Leon Katsnelson, CTO and Director of IBM Skills Network, headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

For hosting these courses on edX.org, IBM has joined the paid edX Consortium, today formed of 113 members. The edX official blog made this announcement.

One of the IBM courses, How to Build Chatbots and Make Money, was available on May 30. It comes with a marketing promotion based on signing up for powering 10 chatbots on IBM Cloud. The other two courses of the program, Smarter Chatbots with Node-RED and Watson AI, and Programming Chatbots with Watson Services, will be released in the following weeks. Most of them are currently available, without certification, on CognitiveClass.ai.

The five courses of the Deep Learning program will be released during September, October, and November, and the others will be mostly repackaged classes of the Cognitive Class Open edX platform.

“The courses are virtually identical but in some instances there are some changes and additions,” explained Antonio Cangiano, an IBM instructor.

 

 

Hawthorn.1 Is Finally Here – edX Launches Its Eighth Version of the Platform

After months of delays, edX finally launched today the official Hawthorn version of the Open edX platform, Hawthorn.1. This release is based on the edX code of July 3.

This launch means that the Ginkgo version will automatically be unsupported.

Devstack is now based on Docker rather than Virtualbox.

“I’m sorry that we had a year-long gap between Ginkgo and Hawthorn. We’re aiming to get the next release (Ironwood!) out in less time,” explained Ned Batchelder, edX architect.

Hawthorn release notes have already been posted here, along with an article describing the main features.

Hawthorn, Open edX’s eighth release, includes enhancements to the learner profiles, ORA component, files & uploads page, and a user deletion feature, following the new GDPR European data privacy law.

LMS and Learner new features

  • Learner profile now includes the date the user joined the platform, as well as course credentials they have received. This links to social media accounts, helping learners share information with one another.
  • Learners now have the ability to purchase all the courses in a program in just one transaction. This avoids the hassle of having to enter payment information multiple times.
  • New discussion notifications now send an email message the first time a learner’s post receives a comment. The message contains the comment and a link back to the course discussions for easy access.
  • Inline discussions are expanded by default. This change has led to a threefold increase in discussion participation.

Studio and Course Author Tools

  • Course teams now have the ability to override learner scores for individual problems. This can be done through a setting on both the instructor dashboard and the Staff Debug Viewer.
  • Course Reviews can now be viewed and added by learners from within the course experience. Open edX system administrators can configure a reviews provider such as CourseTalk to allows learners to leave reviews for a particular course.
  • Proctored exams have been improved, enabling course teams to add specific exam instructions in the Studio proctored exam settings.
  • The Files & Uploads page has been updated to significantly simplify the experience of adding all types of files to a course. This includes the ability to search and a Hide File Preview option.
  • The ORA problem editor has now been improved. A new interface offers the same formatting options for the prompt that is available for HTML components. You no longer have to create a separate HTML component above the ORA assignment.
  • Weekly course highlight messages can now be sent to encourage learners to remain engaged with self-paced courses. Specify a few highlights for each course section, and the platform sends out a weekly email message that lists these highlights. Courses on edx.org that enabled weekly highlights had higher verification rates than ones without.
  • The HTML components have been updated to give you even more easy formatting options such as aligning your text the way you want: aligned to the left or right, centered, or fully justified. Images to HTML components can be added right inside the HTML component itself, without having to upload files beforehand.
  • The Video Uploads page is enabled by default, course teams who partner with 3Play Media and cielo24, transcripts—including translations of transcripts—are added to Studio automatically.


Resources

 

Open edX Hawthorn’s New Features

The edX organization will release this week the final version of its Open edX platform, Hawthorn, after the final tests have been successfully completed.“Testing went very smoothly, and your feedback was invaluable,” said Ned Batchelder, edX architect.

Hawthorn release notes have already been posted, along with an article describing the main features.

Currently, the version available to download is the release candidate 3, open-release/hawthorn.1rc3.

Hawthorn, Open edX’s eighth release, includes enhancements to the learner profiles, ORA component, files & uploads page, and a user deletion feature, following the new GDPR European data privacy law.

LMS and Learner new features

  • Learner profile now includes the date the user joined the platform, as well as course credentials they have received. This links to social media accounts, helping learners share information with one another.
  • Learners now have the ability to purchase all the courses in a program in just one transaction. This avoids the hassle of having to enter payment information multiple times.
  • New discussion notifications now send an email message the first time a learner’s post receives a comment. The message contains the comment and a link back to the course discussions for easy access.
  • Inline discussions are expanded by default. This change has led to a threefold increase in discussion participation.

Studio and Course Author Tools

  • Course teams now have the ability to override learner scores for individual problems. This can be done through a setting on both the instructor dashboard and the Staff Debug Viewer.
  • Course Reviews can now be viewed and added by learners from within the course experience. Open edX system administrators can configure a reviews provider such as CourseTalk to allows learners to leave reviews for a particular course.
  • Proctored exams have been improved, enabling course teams to add specific exam instructions in the Studio proctored exam settings.
  • The Files & Uploads page has been updated to significantly simplify the experience of adding all types of files to a course. This includes the ability to search and a Hide File Preview option.
  • The ORA problem editor has now been improved. A new interface offers the same formatting options for the prompt that is available for HTML components. You no longer have to create a separate HTML component above the ORA assignment.
  • Weekly course highlight messages can now be sent to encourage learners to remain engaged with self-paced courses. Specify a few highlights for each course section, and the platform sends out a weekly email message that lists these highlights. Courses on edx.org that enabled weekly highlights had higher verification rates than ones without.
  • The HTML components have been updated to give you even more easy formatting options such as aligning your text the way you want: aligned to the left or right, centered, or fully justified. Images to HTML components can be added right inside the HTML component itself, without having to upload files beforehand.
  • The Video Uploads page is enabled by default, course teams who partner with 3Play Media and cielo24, transcripts—including translations of transcripts—are added to Studio automatically.


Resources

 

Stanford Reaches 10M Students With Its Online Courses

“These free public courses give Stanford faculty an opportunity to contribute to the public good in new ways by sharing their unique expertise and scholarship with a broader audience,” said Andy Saltarelli, senior director of instructional design, evaluation and research with VPTL.

Additionally, the existing collection of MOOCs has become a complementary study resource for some Stanford students on campus. For example, a recent MOOC, called Sports and the University, was used in two undergraduates courses to help prepare students for in-class discussions and provide content for final projects.

Finally, creating MOOCs has given Stanford faculty and instructors an opportunity to explore and advance their teaching on campus.

•  Stanford News: Stanford’s free online classes expand education opportunities worldwide and on campus

Campus-IL, Israel’s National Open edX Platform, Consolidates Its Project

Israel X, the national consortium of higher ed institutions in Israel, will release a new edX open course about “Environmental Protection and Sustainability” this August 6. It will be an introductory 30-hour, self-paced course taught by six scientists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

This course is the result of an Israeli Government partnership between the Ministry of Social Equality and the Council of Higher Education, as an effort to promote academic and professional education in the country as a way to reduce social gaps and accelerate economic growth. This initiative is conducted through Campus.gov.il,  the Israeli National Project for Digital Learning.

Campus.gov.il (or Campus-IL) is, at the same time, the flagship project of Digital Israel in the field of digital education.  This platform, based on the Open edX software, is led by Shai-Lee Spigelman, CEO of Digital Israel Bureau, Ministry of Social Equality.

Unlike the eleven Israel X courses on edX, intended for an English speaking international audience, those at Campus-IL are offered in Hebrew and Arabic and are geared to a local audience of college students and professors, high-schoolers, government workers, adults, job seekers and underprivileged communities.

During the 2018 Open edX Conference, last May in Montreal, Eran Raviv, Director of Campus-IL, explained that this platform will allow the State of Israel to save around $60 million per year in teacher training costs. Mr. Raviv showcased an innovative pilot of 31 teacher training MOOCs.

Campus-IL currently has over 100 courses in development, 40,000 learners in more than 30 courses, 75,000 unique registered users, and 22 academic institutions as participants.

The graphic above shows the six covered areas:

• 21st Century Skills
• Vocational Training
• Government Professional Development
• High School Matriculation Prep
• Academic Courses

The learning opportunities that this project is trying to cover are:

• Accessible High School Education and Higher Education
• Job Training Opportunities
• Professional Development for Public Servants
• Developing Life Skills

In terms of innovation, Campus-IL is developing now the following projects, IBL News reports:

• An online computer science BA degree
• Micro-credentials as part of a teachers’ training innovative model
• A year-long MOOC to replace traditional tests
• A free SAT Course
• Computer Science courses, offering half of the credits needed for a degree

  • 2018 Open edX Conference: “Teachers Training Micro-Learning Innovative Model: Opportunities and Challenges”: SlidesVideo Talk

Open edX | July 2018 Newsletter : Harvard’s LabXchange, Hawthorn, SUNY Buffalo, IBM…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]

JULY 2018 – NEWSLETTER #7  |  More stories at IBLNews.org

 

EDX SOFTWARE

Harvard’s LabXchange will re-engineer the Open edX platform to allow instructors to remix content

EdX engineers are building a transferrable student records tool

A new XBlock to award badges after an assessment in the course

• EdX creates “Hawthorn Day” to get feedback before releasing its latest code

The Open edX hawthorn version takes Its final steps before delivery

• Installing and deploying an Open edX instance: A view from the developer and author McDaniel

STRATEGY

SUNY Buffalo pilots VR integration on the Open edX platform

Corporations create online institutes to educate external audiences

• IBM’s Cognitive Class Open edX platform explains how it scaled to 1M users

• An edX survey finds a strong appetite for career shifts

University governance favors the standardization of online programs

INITIATIVES

Behind the Freshman Year for Free program, with +60,000 learners (Podcast)

• UQx builds tools to expand social polling and collaboration in Open edX

• A free MIT summer online program on STEM courses for high schoolers

• Another self-managed solution with Open edX

COURSES

• MIT’s Supply Chain MicroMaster program on edX achieves a successful result

HarvardX launches three new CS50 Courses, with Prof. Malan as a lead instructor

IBM Launches on edX a course about how to build chatbots and make money with them

A new edition of HarvardX’s “Science & Cooking” course on edX.org with more top chefs

UC Berkeley launches a blockchain fundamentals program on
edX


This newsletter about Open edX is a monthly report compiled by the IBL News journalist staff, in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company that builds data-driven, sales enabled 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. 

Archive:
Newsletter #6 May 2018
Newsletter #5 May 2018
Newsletter #4 April 2018
Newsletter #3 November 2017

Newsletter #2 Octubre 2017
Newsletter #1 Sept 2017

Read also the latest IBL Newsletter on Learning Innovation

MIT’s Supply Chain MicroMaster Program on edX Achieves a Successful Result

The first class on the Supply Chain Management five-course MicroMaster program on edX.org was finalized by 1,900 students. A total of 622 students successfully completed the final exam, and 42 started the residential semester at MIT’s Cambridge campus in January 2018 to earn a full master’s degree.

MIT sees this experimental degree, which combines online MicroMasters and residential learning, as “a great success”.

“Students have not only met all expectations, they ended up performing as well as and being virtually indistinguishable from traditional students in their overall performance,” writes David L. Chandler at MIT News.

The conclusion is that online students are as good as traditional students, and in many cases, even better. Additionally, the blended learning students ranked top of the class, and since these learners had more real work experience and diverse backgrounds, were more engaged and brought rich perspectives to the classroom discussions.

“The grit required to complete the online courses also helped prepare them for the fast pace of the on-campus classrooms,” explained Chris Caplice, Executive Director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics.

The MIT program in supply chain management has been rated the top such program in the world over the last years.

+