Learning Innovation | March 2019: OPM, MOOCs, Blockchain, Coursera, Udacity, edX

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“The right question about OPMs is whether they are a good fit,” stated expert Michael Feldstein.

“OPMs are the modern enrollment managers,” said Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina, and Randy Best, Chairman and CEO of Academic Partnerships.

2U acquired a minority stake in Chicago-based Keypath Education, which provides a similar service. Additionally, it announced an MBA program with Tecnológico de Monterrey.

Michigan Ross School of Business selected Noodle Partners to launch an online MBA program.



“These are online learning’s greatest hits,” showed Robert Ubell. Also, this expert explained that “MOOC platforms will provide full credit programs for a fee”.

“MOOCs are alive,” stated Zvi Galil, pioneer of Georgia Tech’s OMSCS affordable degree, on a video interview.

• The OMSCS degree will graduate 1,500 students per year in 2021.

• Five top U.S. universities will launch five more low-priced master’s.



Educause released a preview of its 2019 Horizon Report. Redesigning blended spaces is one of the key trends.

Cryptocurrency company Ripple is expanding its blockchain research initiative with 11 new top universities.

These are the most in-demand hard and soft skills of 2019: cloud computing, artificial intelligence, analytical reasoning, creativity, persuasion, collaboration…



Coursera and HEC Paris introduced a stackable degree model with a new specialization in design thinking.

Udacity announced an AI-based program for matching candidates with its network of employers.

Sebastian Thrun initiated an aggressive plan to transform Udacity, after the former CEO left in October. The company reported revenues of $90 million and claimed 10 million registered students.

Job applicants should add online courses to their CV, explains an expert at edX.



• A Community College issued 1,479 blockchain-based certificates.

• MIT issued 2,000 blockchain-based certificates.



• UMass announced plans to launch a national online college focused on adults. It will compete with Arizona State University, SNHU, Purdue and Penn State.

Arizona State University (ASU) is expanding Education for Humanity, an initiative to educate online refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Irak, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Moodle unveiled Moodle Workplace, a subset of the features available in other products, notably Totara Learning, for organizational training.

Universities and colleges are teaming up with boot camp companies to deliver tech training in web development and coding, data analytics, and cybersecurity. Vanderbilt University is a good example.



Turnitin, which uses AI to scan students’ writing and code assignments to check for plagiarism, will be acquired by a media conglomerate for $1.75 billion.

Instructure / Canvas LMS bought the Portfolium digital portfolios company for $43 million.



Education Calendar  –  MARCH  |  APRIL  |  MAY  |  JUNE – DEC 2019



This newsletter about learning innovation is a monthly report compiled by IBL News. If you enjoy what you read please consider forwarding it to spread the word. Click here to subscribe.

IBL Newsletter #19– January 2019
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“Massive Online Courses Are Alive”, Says Pioneer of OMSCS Affordable Degree

By Zoe Mackay

“MOOCs haven’t died. They are alive,” said Zvi Galil, Dean of the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the pioneer of the Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS), during an interview at the IBL Studios in New York.

“I have never been in a funeral for MOOCs. I think MOOC-based degrees proved to be a better use for MOOCs, to reach people because people want degrees and credentials.”

Responding to the critics of online courses and degrees, Galil offered the counterpoint that “the online degree has the ability to reach many more people, and with improving technologies, some of the perceived deficiencies of online education get ameliorated and get replaced by closer interaction.”

“While traditional on-campus students utilize social media for personal interaction, OMSCS students “use it in a very extensive way, and it’s very part and parcel of their education.”

In today’s job market, continuing education is a lifelong effort. As technology is constantly changing and employment sectors necessitate continuous learning from their employees, online education is an ideal and flexible model.

“We are moving into a period where we must have adult education. We must have lifelong learning. And online will be a major tool to do it. Some very capable people can take the time off to move, to go to a place where they can have classes, and some do, but a majority, I believe, will be using online courses or degrees or certificates.”

When it comes to the quality of education, OMSCS provides a stunning example. Galil notes that OMSCS was created with the same attention to detail as its on-campus counterpart, with “no compromises in quality…the same criteria for admission, the same students, projects, homework and exams.”

Please watch below the full interview with Zvi Galil at IBL Studios.


“MOOC platforms will provide full credit programs for a fee”

What is the future of Coursera, edX, Udacity, FutureLearn, MiriadaX and other MOOC platforms?

Robert Ubell, a renowned online learning guru and consultant, has a clear view:

“MOOC platforms will provide full credit programs for a fee.”

“MOOCs proposition was destined to die because there was no finance in how to continue. This is why they had to find a transformative approach,” he adds.

“Programs from Georgia Tech and the University of Illinois are good examples. Their offering is connected to their revenue stream.”

In the interview below, conducted during the SXSW EDU conference this week in Austin, Mr. Ubell also highlighted the examples of UMass, University of Southern Florida Central, and University of Arizona State University.


A Community College Issues 1,479 Blockchain-Based Certificates

Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) has become the first community college in the U.S. to issue student-owned digital diplomas through Blockchain technology. So far, CNM has issued 1,479 Blockchain-based certificates. A total of 356 of them have been shared on Linkedin.

“It is a very powerful tool for our students,” Dr. Tobe Phelps, CTO at this community college, explained in a conversation with IBL News last Monday.

CNM’s innovation in this field has been driven by the goal to “convert college-owned technology to student-owned technology,” added Mr. Phelps.

In August 2017,  this institution joined the Blockcert pilot with MIT, and in November 2017 successfully issued the first certificates for their deep dive coding camp. Less than a year later, in August 2018 CNM announced that all of their graduates would receive optional diplomas.

Additionally, this community college recently entered into a partnership agreement and started the development of a blockchain education ecosystem, which includes higher-ed institutions, students, employers, as well as government agencies and other community members.

[Dr. Tobe Phelps pictured above during his talk at the Innovation Conference in New York on Monday, showing some of the issued blockcerts certificates.]

Open edX | March 2019: Upcoming Conference, MIT, Jupyter, Edraak…

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FEBRUARY – MARCH 2018 – NEWSLETTER #14  |  More breaking news at IBL News 



• Open edX Conference’s Schedule: 10 Key Sessions

• Ten 5-Min Talks of Open edX Vendors to Attend

• Ironwood, The Latest Open edX Version, To Be Released Soon



• ​An Open Book to Empower Using Jupyter for Teaching

• Edraak Launches its School Learning for K-12 Children in the Arab World

• EdCast Acquires Leapest, a European B2B Training Specialist



• A MOOC to Deal with a Post-Truth World Developed by SUNY​

• Dr. Chuck’s MOOC on Python Is Now Also on edX.org

• Looking for the Right Name for the MOOC-based Degrees



• MITx Granted 1,277 Credentials on its Supply Chain MicroMasters

• MIT Issues 2,000 Blockchain-Based Certificates

• A Free MIT Course for Practitioners on Competency-Based Education



Education Calendar 2019  –    FEB  |  MARCH  |  APRIL   |  MAY   |  JUNE – DEC 2019


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 and other educational software. 

Read the latest IBL Newsletter on Learning Innovation  |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

A MOOC to Deal with a Post-Truth World Developed by SUNY

We live in a post-truth world where factual information has been displaced by subjective and biased viewpoints.

SUNY Albany and Empire State College have created a MOOC to help learners recognize their own biases and identify preconceptions in today’s social information environment.

“Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World” is a three-hour open, free course, taught by eight top instructors from SUNY, starting on March 18.

This MOOC is hosted at The University at Buffalo’s platform, and runs on an independent Open edX-based ecosystem, empowered by IBL Education.

Ten 5-Min Talks of Open edX Vendors to Attend

Thirty-six speakers will perform on five rounds of Lighting Talks that will take place in the 2019 Open edX Conference, hosted by UC San Diego, March 26 – 29.

The edX organization has chosen, following its own criteria, twenty-eight 5-minute duration talks, which will be spread into five different rooms from 2 pm to 3 pm on Thursday 28. Most of the speakers belong to vendor companies that specialize in the Open edX software.

Here is the complete list of talks.

This is a selection of the ten must-attended talks, according to IBL News’ editorial staff:


The OPM Market Will Grow Until $7.7B by 2025

The Online Program Manager (OPM) business, with 60+ providers in a $3B+ market growing at 17%, will reach $7.7B by 2025, according to research by HolonIQ. Increased interest from learners, more offerings from colleges, and wider acceptance from employers will boost this growth.

OPM operators –which are dedicated to helping universities build, recruit for and deliver digital programs– have realized that online degrees are one of the fastest growing areas of higher education.

Revenue sharing is the dominant model in this industry but a fee for service, unbundled and hybrid relationships are growing fast.

Over six million students worldwide pursue higher education online, representing a $30B market today. In the US, online students make up only 15% of all higher education enrollments, while in China it is 10%.

The top 10 OPM players make up over half of global revenue. The US is the largest market by far, and VCs are very active. As recent transactions, we’ve recently seen how 2U invested in Keypath, Wiley acquired Learning House, Seek acquired OES, Grand Canyon spun out and acquired Orbis, Emeritus raised $40 million.

One of the main uncertainties is whether universities will embrace the OPM model and continue to outsource capabilities, or whether they will seek to build them in-house.

The Anatomy of an OPM – PDF by Holon IQ

An Open Book to Empower Using Jupyter for Teaching

A well-elaborated handbook for teaching and learning with Jupyter saw the light this month. It is a first draft that aims to provide an entry point and a broad overview of Jupyter in education.

Coordinated by Prof. Lorena A. Barba, from The George Washington University, this handbook is intended for any educator teaching a topic that includes data analysis or computation.

“It is not just for educators teaching courses in engineering or science, but also data journalism, business, and quantitative economics, data-based decision sciences and policy, quantitative health sciences, and digital humanities,” say the authors of this open book.

Jupyter Notebook has exploded in popularity in the last four years as the favorite environment for data science. It has also grown as a platform to use in the classroom, to develop teaching materials, to share lessons and tutorials, and to create computational stories. Prof. Lorena A. Barba has been the main driver in the Jupyter for Education movement. Her courses at The George Washington University Engineering MOOC Open edX platform are a good example of Jupyter use.

Notebooks are documents containing text narratives with images and math, combined with executable code (many languages are supported) and the output of that code. This marriage of content and code makes for a powerful new form of data-based communication.




EdCast Acquires Leapest, a European B2B Training Specialist

EdCast, whose corporate LMS is powered by Open edX, announced this month the acquisition of Leapest, a 2017-created, Netherlands-based learning marketplace that offers courses, certifications, and training programs to 1,600 business customers. The amount of the transaction has not been disclosed.

The CEO and Founder of Leapest, Sukhbir Jasuja, will be joining EdCast as its Executive Vice President and Managing Director of EdCast’s Blended Learning Marketplace.

“This acquisition will accelerate EdCast’s rapid growth in Europe and expand the company’s blended learning capabilities. With this step, EdCast also builds upon its success with ContentExchange, the global learning content marketplace focused on workforce upskilling,” said Karl Mehta, CEO, and founder of EdCast.

“This acquisition demonstrates how the LXP market is growing up. By acquiring Leapest, EdCast becomes both an LXP and a true content network, adding LMS features as well. This changes the game and has the potential to add tremendous new value for corporate training buyers,” Global industry analyst Josh Bersin stated.