Coursera’s Google IT Support Certificate Program Gets a Good Response

IBL News | New York

Out of 75,000 enrollees, over 8,000 students have completed the Google IT Support Professional Certificate program, hosted in Coursera.

Google created this $49 a month program in early 2018. It was designed to take beginner learners to job readiness in about eight months.

There are 215,000 unfilled IT support staff roles nationwide, Google estimates. The average annual starting salary for these entry-level IT jobs is $52,000, federal data shows.

Around 70 percent of enrollees come from underrepresented populations in tech, including women, Latinos, African-Americans, veterans and learners without a college education.

Employers that are recruiting from the Google IT Support Certificate program include Bank of America, General Electric, Walmart, Wyndham Hotels, Sprint, Home Depot, H&R Block, Infosys, Intel and Cognizant.

Community colleges with a strong track record in workforce development are also successfully offering the certificate to their students with additional support and in-person instruction. Google partnered with an initial group of 25 community colleges in 2018 but intends to grow that number to 100.

The Internet giant provided a grant that allows community colleges to offer the program for free.

Some colleges are offering the course for credit as part of a degree program. Others are including it as part of their continuing-education programs.

“The IT support role, which involves troubleshooting and solving technical issues, typically doesn’t require a four-year college degree, so it should be a strong entry point for nontraditional talent,” Natalie Van Kleef Conley, Product Manager for Grow with Google, said in Inside of Higher Education.

Moving forward, Google wants to expand partnerships and move into new areas of tech training.

Artificial Intelligence in Education is Here to Stay: Will it Augment or Replace?

Zoe Mackay | IBL News

Are significant advancements in AI (Artificial Intelligence) going to eventually lead to the replacement of traditional teaching roles?

Attendees at an IMS Global Learning Consortium panel were asked to contemplate this question. The panel, entitled “Is Artificial Intelligence the Future of Education?” featured the outstanding speakers Tom Gierke, Ari Chanen, Eric Cosyn, Yakut Gazi, and Alex Kaplan with Ray Schroeder moderating.

It’s no secret that AI is nested within the wave of innovation in online learning. As Kaplan mentioned, “AI is already playing a really active role in education today, and that this is really more about maturing of the offerings as opposed to is it happening or not?”

Along with the other panelists, Kaplan agreed: “AI is about augmenting and enhancing human capability, and not replacing human capability.”

As AI gets integrated in education, the impact it is going to have is to expand the range of teaching modalities available to instructors and institutions,” said Cosyn. “The classic model, where the instructor addresses the whole class, that’s not going to go away, but the AI will function as a side teaching assistant.”

AI will allow information to surface regarding what material students need help with, Cosyn poses, and will play an important role within traditional models and new models of online teaching.

Gazi’s team has experience working with AI in online courses, first introduced three years prior as an AI teaching assistant which “farmed the previous discussion boards and used that as resources to answer student questions.”

While AI is instrumental in moving forward with online education, Gierke questioned the validity of commentators who think AI will replace traditional teaching techniques. “As much as AI is advancing, is it going to replace a teacher? I think we have to remember that the research shows that teachers are one of the most important factors in student outcomes… Advances in AI, can help [teachers] save time.”

To watch the full panel discussion, please see the video below.



MITx Prepares 30 New MOOCs and Builds with Other Universities a Blockchain System for Credentials

MITx has become, along with Harvard University and Microsoft, the most prolific course creator on, with 111 MOOCs shared in the past year, and 26 of them being run for the first time.

“We have about 30 more in the pipeline. At this point we have worked with faculty from 29 of MIT’s departments across all of its 5 schools, as we strive to share the best of MIT’s teaching, and learning, with the world,” said Krishna Rajagopal, Dean for Digital Learning, Open Learning, and Professor of Physics at MIT.

Two of the newest MOOCs from the past Spring have been:

  • Healthcare Finance. Professor Andrew Lo, from MIT Sloan School of Management, teaches how to apply financial techniques to biomedical contexts, following its personal mission of bringing more life-saving therapies to patients faster.



  • Qualitative Research Methods: Conversational Interviewing. Professor Susan Silbey, a winner of MIT’s Killian Award, teaches learners how to prepare for and conduct a conversational interview for the purpose of gathering data.


Another remarkable initiative where MIT collaborates with eight other top research universities is related to the design of a digital, distributed infrastructure for issuing, storing and displaying verifiable credentials and certificates of academic achievement.

“We aim to utilize strong cryptography to prevent tampering and fraud, and shared ledgers to create a global infrastructure for anchoring academic achievements that build upon earlier research and pioneering efforts  — including MIT’s pilot program via which it issued all of its 2018 graduates a digital version of their diplomas that are verified against a blockchain,” explained Professor Krishna Rajagopal.

MIT: Digital Credentials

Half of Employees That Need to Re-Skill Don’t Ask for Help, an edX Survey Finds

IBL News | New York

More than one-third of employees have experienced a lack of proficiency in at least one new skill or subject area of a current or past job – usually related to data science (39%) or business and soft skills (37%). However, nearly half of these employees don’t feel comfortable asking their employer to help pay for learning costs, and one in four people have asked an outside resource for help.

These are the main conclusions of a survey conducted by edX on 1,000 consumers aged 18+ on reskilling trends.

“The fourth industrial revolution is here, and as technology continues to evolve rapidly, employees must continue to reskill to keep up with the shifting demands of their job,” explained Adam Medros, President & COO at edX.

According to the World Economic Forum, 1.4 million U.S. jobs alone are expected to be disrupted by technology and other factors between now and 2026.

Survey’s respondents are split between who should be responsible for making sure that they are prepared for the jobs of the future with the right skills – 41% feel it is an individual’s responsibility; 33% feel its an employer’s responsibility; 16% believe it’s higher education’s responsibility; and 9% believe it’s up to the government.

A Billionaire Will Cover the Cost of Coursera’s Illinois Data Science Master’s Degree for His Employees

Marie I. Rose | IBL News

AI-software provider, a company owned by billionaire Tom Siebel, has started to offer employees a fully paid tuition for the Master of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS) from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, available on Coursera for $21,000.  

Those who complete the degree will get three more career incentives: a $25,000 cash bonus, a 15% salary increase, and a stock option equity award.

“In this new economy where people are talking about digital transformation; for companies to stay at the top of their game they need to have state-of-the-art continuing education programs,” said Siebel, who got a degree in Computer Science –although residentially – at the same university.

In 2007, Thomas Siebel, 66, pledged $1000 million to support science and engineering at this institution. Currently, CEO at, Siebel, with a fortune of $2.9 billion, is a former salesman who became a billionaire after creating and selling Siebel Systems to rival Oracle in 2006 for $5.8 billion. is valued at $2.1 billion.

In addition to this degree, employees, 330 in total today, already have free access to other Coursera courses and Specializations in AI, IoT, clouding computing, and advanced computing.

“This model of stackable learning will become standard as more companies realize the value of providing a variety of flexible learning pathways for employees to acquire critical skills,” stated Leah Belsky, VP of Enterprise at Coursera.

“We believe that more and more companies will move in this direction in the future. is showing real foresight, and they are putting an incredible amount of employee support behind that foresight,” said Rashid Bashir, Dean of The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. “New modes of delivering professional education are crucial to both companies like and to universities like Illinois.”

The Coursera-based MCS degree was launched in 2016. Nearly 700 hundred students are enrolled in the program. The acceptance rate is 30%.

Illinois’ Department of Computer Science is consistently ranked as one of the top computer science programs in the world. In 2018, it was ranked #5 on the U.S. News and World Report list of Best Computer Science Schools.

Thomas Siebel, in the picture, shows a clear vision: “At, we are assembling a team of inquisitive self-learners, motivated and properly trained to solve some of the world’s most challenging technology problems. This program further enables our employees’ success by encouraging them to further develop their computer science and AI expertise at one of the world’s leading universities.”

Siebel’s educational offering to employees is probably the most generous one within corporate America, beyond  Starbucks‘, which covers a portion of the tuition for those who earn online B.A.’s from Arizona State University, and Walmart‘s incentive of $1,500 cash bonuses to some workers who finish degrees at three subsidized schools.

He claimed in Forbes that “the money his company will spend on employee degrees and cash bonuses are a drop in the bucket when you consider how much we spend on human capital.” When you add in other benefits and travel, he says each employee already costs the company more than $350,000 a year. “If someone is increasing their skills, advancing their career, setting themselves up for multiple promotions, providing better service for their customers, in that context the amount we’re spending on this benefit is nothing.”

Open edX | June 2019: Stanford, UBx, LTI 1.3, Coursera, Udacity…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]


JUNE 2019 – NEWSLETTER #17  |  More breaking news at IBL News 


Open edX

• Open edX Issues Ironwood.2, a New Release of Its Platform

• UBx, University at Buffalo’s Continuing Education Open edX-Based Platform, Expands with New Courses

• A Fascinating Free Course About Beethoven’s Music from Stanford University

• The Open edX Software Ranks #36 on GitHub’s Top 100 Projects



• Chatbots Gain Traction Among Businesses – Now a Course About Them on edX

• Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education Creates AfghanX and Joins the edX Consortium



• Illinois Shuts Down its Traditional MBA and Focuses into Online’s iMBA

• What’s Next for Coursera and FutureLearn? Insights Revealed at the EMOOCS Conference

• Coursera Expands into Canada by Opening an Engineering Office



• Georgia Tech Will Deploy this Summer an Improved Version of its AI-Based Teacher Assistant

• Analysis: Sebastian Thrun, Creates the University of Silicon Valley and the Fourth Degree

• Sebastian Thrun Told Harvey Mudd Graduates to “Stay Curious and Always Believe in Themselves”

• Udacity Offers Two Programs to Train Cloud Engineers on AWS



• The New Standard LTI 1.3, which Allows Interoperability of Grades and Assignments, Excites the Industry

• The Good and the Bad: Choose the Best OPM, According to Dr. Chuck



Education Calendar  –    JUNE  |  JULY  |  AUG – 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 Online Education at Scale  |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

Learning At Scale | June 2019: SNHU, SUNY, USC, Emeritus, Walmart, Carnegie Mellon…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]




An Institution prepares students for jobs which won’t be automatized.

• SNHU, with 135K students and an army of 6k adjuncts, wants to be the “Nordstrom’s of higher education”, says its president Paul LeBlanc.

NY University System will focus on increasing its online presence.

“Emerging markets are a large opportunity to boost online enrollment”, says Emeritus CEO.

Higher education enrollments will continue its decline throughout the next decade. College closures will increase in 2019.



Canadian educator Heather Payne says that tenure should be abolished.

Ángel Cabrera, George Mason University’s president, named the sole finalist for the Georgia Tech presidency.

Michigan State named Stony Brook president as the new leader. Samuel Stanley Jr. created 240 faculty positions.

A billionaire investor pledged to pay off the student debt of Morehouse College’s 396 graduating young men during his commencement speech.

• USC’s partnership with 2U didn’t work at all. The school is facing a budget crisis that may result in nearly half of the staff losing their jobs.



Netflix-style service Cengage Unlimited reaches 1.5 million subscribers.

Walmart expanded the $1 a day degree program to more universities.

OpenSesame corporate learning marketplace, with 20,000 courses, raised $28 million to help it grow faster.

SAS software provider debuted in higher education with an advanced cloud-based analytical solution. Jenzabar improved its analytics suite.



Carnegie Mellon University released its first wave of open-source learning tools. Interview with the leader behind the initiative.

Tecnológico de Monterrey released an elaborated report on alternative credentials (PDF).



Actionable data is the most disappointing late arrival in teaching and learning in higher ed.

Online education doesn’t work for disadvantaged populations, those unprepared for college and first-time students.

Achieving 85% completion rates for online courses.

It’s all about money? There is no difference between for-profit and public higher ed, said George Siemens.

Instructional designers forget what makes a course successful.

A model involving faculty for course design.



Education Calendar  –    JUNE  |  JULY  |  AUG – DEC 2019


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

IBL Newsletter #22– May 2019
IBL Newsletter #21– April 2019
IBL Newsletter #20– March 2019
IBL Newsletter #19– January 2019

Open edX Issues Ironwood.2, a New Release of Its Platform

edX engineers have released an update on the new Ironwood version of the platform, implementing changes into the ironwood branch on GitHub.

The new release is called ironwood.2, and it is located at open-release/ironwood.2. 

These changes since ironwood.1 include:

  • Reverting and feature-flagging of “honor code not eligible for certificate”
  • A handful of security fixes
  • Small changes to bring the default installation into compliance with edX trademark policy

Open edX Ironwood was issued March 21. This version is the ninth release of the Open edX platform and includes improvements over the former Hawthorn.2 version.

One of the most notorious improvements involved the login process into Studio –by redirecting the user to the LMS to log in, and then redirecting back to Studio.

Another remarkable feature was called “Public Course Content”, which allowed users to access materials and components without registration or enrollment.

An Institution Prepares Students for Jobs which Won’t Be Automatized

Mikel Amigot | IBL News (Boston)

Job automation has already started. Stats indicate that 10% of American jobs will be automated in 2019. An upsetting forecast indicates that up to 73 million U.S. jobs will be automated by 2030.

But there is hope. First: nearly 2 million new non-routine jobs which machines cannot easily perform are being created every year in the United States. Second: an increasing number of colleges and universities understand the challenge and are starting to prepare students who demand jobs which won’t be automated.

Foundry College is one of them. Its Founder, Dr. Stephen Kosslyn, addressed the issue yesterday during the Eduventures Summit in Boston with a physician example. “Diagnosis of illness will soon be accomplished well by machines. But sitting with the family to discuss treatment options will be difficult to automate.”

At least two skills are automation resistant: “Recognizing and responding to emotion when communicating and making decisions. And taking context into account when analyzing situations, creatively solving problems, and prioritizing goals,” Stephen Kosslyn said.

Foundry College, which is focused on what’s difficult to automate, has listed five key underpinnings:

  • Critical thinking
  • Creative problem solving
  • Clear communication
  • Constructive personal interactions
  • Good judgment.

To pair these essential skills, this institution has reimagined a future-proof, two-year curriculum. On the first year, Foundry teaches:

  • Critical Analyses
  • Practical Problem Solving
  • Clear Communication
  • Learning at Work
  • Working with Others
  • Managing Yourself at Work

On the second year:

  • Communicating and Conveying in Business
  • Navigating Work
  • Thinking with Software
  • Customer Service and Sales
  • Health Care Management
  • System and Service Management


View: A Model Involving Faculty for Course Design

Mikel Amigot | IBL News

The course development process usually tends to be too complex. As instructional designers, we schedule too many milestones and we overcomplicate things.

Two experts in the field shared their view at SUNY’s annual technology conference, CIT, which took part this May 29-31 in Purchase, New York.

Learning designers Joseph Stabb and Theresa Guillard-Cook [in the picture] described SUNY Oswego’s four-step process for course development: 1) Agreement; 2) Kickoff Meeting; 3) Schedule Set Up; 4) Final Course Review.

The second one is particularly critical. The most important questions in the meeting with professors are: “what is your vision and idea for your course? What would you like to do?” These obvious questions and answers are usually forgotten; consequently, the class becomes ineffective.

“The most important statement in this meeting is: you are the subject matter expert,” said Joseph Stabb and Theresa Guillard-Cook.

Regarding the third stage, a detailed development schedule with milestones and due dates is required. A template is necessary.

A well-defined process, based on continuous collaboration where faculty feel supported, will meet educational standards and drive student outcomes.