Ebooks and elearning content will converge in one industry

Ever thought of a possible convergence of eLearning and ePublishing industries?

This is an interesting discussion happening in the LinkedIn’s Educause group.

Most of the leading book publishers now publish their books in electronic format. But that is not enough to stay ahead of the competition.

Increasingly, publishers will add interactivity, assessments, annotations, tracking, learning platforms as well as collaborations and integrations with third social platforms, etc.

Aren’t ebooks’ new features very close to the elearning content?

It seems that these two industries will converge soon; their ecosystems are very complementary to each other.

Harvard seeks a stronger alumni networking through a new MOOC program

Harvard is taking a new approach to MOOCs.

Beginning in March of this Year, HarvardX –the University’s branch of the online learning platform edX.org– has offered course content restricted to alumni.

This new program, called “HarvardX for Alumni” draws from pre-existing HarvardX course such as “The Ancient Greek Here” and “Fundamentals of Neuroscience,” while adding new features, such as forums and live chats with faculty, and seeking a stronger, more explicit focus on networking, both among alumni and between alumni and the University.

In addition, HarvardX for Alumni serves as an experimentation with modular courseware with original material, such as interviews with faculty members.

Portable learning experiment in Rwanda led by EdX and Facebook

Portable learning edxPortable learning can provide students in developing countries with new opportunities.

The non-profit organization edX will work with Facebook-led Internet.org, Airtel, Nokia and the Government of Rwanda to provide free education to students in this African country on affordable smart phones. This project, called SocialEDU, was announced by Facebook at the Mobile World Congress last week in Barcelona, Spain.

The initiative builds on the success of MOOCs

EdX will adapt course materials for local students. Such students will access a mobile app that will be integrated with Facebook, while Airtel provides free education data for one year and Nokia sells affordable smartphones.

Google launches its first MOOC


Google is launching its first MOOC.

The course, titled “Making Sense of Data”, will run from March 18 to April 4. It is related to Google’s Fusion Tables – a set of tools for displaying data – and is intended to be for “anybody who works with data on a daily basis, such as students, teachers, journalists, and small business owners, and who wants to learn more about how to apply that information to practical problems.”

Participants will engage with the course material through a combination of video and text lessons, activities, and projects. Google announces that in order to create a more engaging experience, participants will be able to access instant hangouts and live chats from the course for quick help or for direct feedback from the company experts. Students will have the opportunity to complete a final project and apply the skills they learn to earn a certificate.

The course will showcase the collaborative technology of Google and edX using cbX to run courses on Google App Engine.

Previously, Google offered an analytics course.


Six ways to promote online courses

When it comes to promoting online courses and learning activities, there are many ways we use while working with our clients. Let us share some of them:

  1. Blogs and social media sites. We update them 2 or 3 times a week with engaging, useful and informative content.
  2. Short, free courses –and/or MOOCs– production. Giving things for free builds more engagement with existing and potential customers, and it allows to generate new leads and grow our community.
  3. eBooks. We publish a new one every month. They contain 10 – 20 pages and they have very clear and useful information. Ebooks have become very useful lead generators. eBooks as well as courses can be created by opinion leaders; they can become our best advocates.
  4. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly informative newsletters. We share info about customers’ content, industry news and leaders, interviews.
  5. Forums. We start discussions, come up with new ideas, and get feedback and ideas just by listening to people.
  6. Testimonials and customer stories. We post positive examples of people who enjoyed our courses.

MOOCs are a radical learning and marketing tool – Check out UNAV's case

Academic institutions must leverage the best technological advancements in order to attract students and maximize learning.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) –that feature a series of short, video segments in which instructors describe a particular concept or skill, and then give exercises, quizzes and exams– is a radical learning and marketing tool, that requires little start up cost.

In our view, it offers universities with a unique chance to promote their services while engaging non-traditional students. Check out these series of MOOCs we filmed for the University of Navarre (UNAV), in Spain. Naturally, one can enroll in them for free.

Intensive coursework is a great way to educate the general population and get free advertising.

Users recognize and appreciate the efforts of MOOCs at universities, and promote them to friends and family through social media sites and emailing. This word of mouth promotion systems benefits all.


The LTI standard becomes part of every major LMS

Is your LMS LTI-compliant?

With the growing acceptance of the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, and the 2.0 version on the horizon, LMS platforms are becoming more fluid, with content flowing in and out via many third-party tools.

LTI provides an open, standard way for third-party tools to connect to any LMS (Learning Management Systems); and a wide range of outside software can be implemented. Also, as an open standard, it avoids vendor lock-in. This means that if a school migrates to another LMS, existing third-party tools that are LTI-compliant will continue to work with the new system without needing to tinker any further.

Samples of third-party applications that are sitting out on the cloud include the video capture program Panopto; the digital storytelling and collaboration app VoiceThread, the anti-plagiarism software known as Turnitin, and an asynchronous learning tool called YouSeeU that can be used for online student presentations and discussions.

The Canvas LMS is leading the LTI charge. It maintains an LTI directory of compliant applications at edu-apps.org, listing over 125 apps. Included are familiar names like YouTube, Khan Academy, Twitter, WordPress, McGraw Hill Campus, CourseSmart, Ted Ed, Wikipedia and DropBox. Some apps require an administrator to install them, but others are designed for a user to plug into the LMS themselves.

A list of both platforms and tools that are certified to be LTI-compliant is maintained at www.imsglobal.org/lti/.

Some large institutions, like the University of Michigan and Western Governors University, are already building according to LTI standards.

Coursera will offer 50 MOOCs in Spanish

By the end of the year, Coursera.org will offer 50 Spanish-language MOOCs.

This initiative comes as a result of a partnership with the Carlos Slim Foundation, a Mexican philanthropic organization.

“Our alliance with Coursera will allow training in Mexico, Latin America, and in the Hispanic community in the United States, promoting human capital at the highest level,” said Carlos Slim Helú, the businessman and philanthropist behind the foundation.

The partnership will focus on courses tailored to Latin America’s employment needs in computer science, health care, and public health.

The Carlos Slim Foundation plans to reach low-income communities by offering MOOCs at its Telmex Digital Libraries, a network of more than 3,000 computer centers that provide free Internet access.

Coursera.org announces MOOCs for K12 teachers

Coursera, a leading MOOC provider, has announced that it will begin offering free professional development courses for K12 teachers. Many of the courses will focus on the skills that teachers need to effectively design and teach online courses.

The courses will be provided by seven leading schools of education, including the University of California at Irvine (UC Irvine) and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, along with several other partners such as leading museums and other educational institutions.

“MOOCs will definitely become an important piece in a teacher’s professional development,” says Melissa Loble, Associate Dean of Distance Learning at UC Irvine. That’s because MOOCs are easier to fit into a busy schedule than an on-site course and they offer a broad range of topics to study, she adds.

For instance, courses involve integrating engineering into science, engaging students through cooperative learning, and putting the new Common Core standards into action.

> MOOC: Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom