Learning Innovation | October 2018: Red Hat, Coursera, Udacity, Novoed…

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Udacity’s CEO, Vishal Makhijani, stepped down, and the company started to the search for a replacement. Is Udacity in trouble?

Forbes made a selection of the next billion-dollar startups, and among them is Coursera, which has an estimated revenue of $140 million in 2018.

• IBM is acquiring open software company Red Hat for $34 billion, in a massive deal that could reshape cloud computing.


Novoed was acquired by Boston-based private equity firm Devonshire for an undisclosed sum.

Udacity launched Student Hub to provide a way to connect learners and receive support from mentors.

Moodlerooms was rebranded into Blackboard Open LMS.


MIT announced a $1 billion investment in AI through its new Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, which will open in Sept. 2019.

• YouTube announced a $20 million investment in educational content while partnering with several organizations, including edX.org.


MOOC-based degrees are trying to differentiate from other online degrees, with lower pricing as the main factor.

190 universities have announced 600 free online courses, according to Class-Central.


The Coursera for Refugees global program, which provides free access to the entire library of courses, reached 11,000 learners.

• Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and nonprofit LRNG agreed to merge to deploy community-based education strategies.

• A Houston Community College launched an online campus, with 31 online programs.


A six-part documentary series aims to demystify blockchain by focusing on how activists and entrepreneurs are building solutions which will impact politics and society.

Coursera launched this month 10 new Specializations, including one in Blockchain for non-developers, from ConsenSys Academy.

LearningMachine.com updated its open source blockchain architecture to enable support for records issuance and verification.


• Education 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. 

IBL Newsletter #15 – September 2018

YouTube Will Invest $20M on Educational Content, and Will Partner with Portals, including edX.org

Along with GoodwillYear Up, the French platform OpenClassroom and other portals, edX.org is partnering with YouTube on its new $20 million funded Learning initiative, designed to improve its educational content.Part of this project is a new Learning Fund, intended to support creators who make learning content and cover topics from careers skills, interviewing and resume building to computer science. [Form to apply here.]

On its official blog, YouTube explained that it has already completed its “first round of investment in some of the most respected names in online education like TED-Ed or Hank and John Green’s Crash Course.” “We’re also supporting many of our emerging EduTubers like Socratica and Linda Raynier.” 

“In addition to investing in EduTubers through the Learning Fund, we’re also developing new YouTube Originals focused on learning like Mind Field: Season 3 from Vsauce creator Michael Stevens, and a new series with Vox Entertainment which was announced earlier this month.”

“We know it’s important to make quality learning content easier to find on YouTube, so we’re launching a new channel called Learning, where major partners like Goodwill and Year Up are contributing curated playlists highlighting videos that teach career skills. The channel will make it easy for users to find tutorials, DIY videos, explainers, and skill-based playlists.”

Additionally, YouTube plans to invest in these projects in 2019:

  • Providing more resources to aspiring EduTubers like our Creator Academy course for educational channels, and our new Learning Best Practices.
  • Hosting a NextUp creator camp specifically for emerging EduTubers.
  • Working to connect EduTubers with brand partners through FameBit.



Indiana University Launches Two Master’s Degree Programs on edX.org

Indiana University will issue in 2019 a Master of Science in Accounting and a Master of Science in IT Management on edX.org.  This offering comes after this institution has joined the edX Consortium.

  • The Master of Science in Accounting degree is priced at $21,000 and includes 10 fully online courses in financial and managerial accounting, financial statement analysis, finance, tax planning and strategy, auditing and data analytics-based decision-making.
  • The curriculum for the Master of Science in IT Management, also with a tuition of $21,000, is comprised of 10 online courses on how to analyze, design and develop information systems, how to lead IT management and strategy and how to use data and visualizations to support managerial decisions.

Both of these programs offer learners the option to start with a MicroMasters program, which is a valuable standalone credential and can count toward their full master’s degree.


Analysis: Build vs Buy vs Open edX

By Miguel Amigot II & Zoe Mackay

The initial process for learning innovators aiming to launch a large-scale online learning initiative may seem daunting, as there are many paths to getting started. This post offers information to help clarify best practices for learning initiatives supporting a significant number of students (above 10k) that expect to provide added value with innovative software and exceptional online learning solutions.

The classic dilemma is “build vs. buy” when launching an online learning ecosystem – should you build a proprietary platform from scratch or buy/license an existing platform?

  • Building a proprietary platform allows your team to design the platform end-to-end, and control all integrations and intimate knowledge of your process.
  • There is also the added benefit of no vendor lock-in, which gives you the ability to modify the platform in the future.

Building a platform will have a longer production timeline, in comparison to buying or licensing an existing one, and would also require the assembly of a dedicated team as an engineering organization: product, designers, frontend, backend, and devops. Depending on your organization, this could prove costly when factoring in salaries and staff opportunity costs.

Another consideration is that developing proprietary platforms is difficult. It must be extensible in order to incorporate future features (minimal technical debt). It must also be well-documented for the purpose of incorporating and training new staff on your proprietary solution. The level of difficulty will depend on the culture of your organization, the mindset of your engineers and any deadlines and short-term incentives to ship code.

Buying or licensing an existing platform comes with its own host of considerations. They offer immediate deployments and are reliable, given that you will most likely not be their only client. However, unlike the flexibility offered in building a platform, buying or licensing will include vendor lock-in — you will be unable to incorporate new features to the platform, unless the vendor decides that it’s worth it to include additional features unless you pay top-dollar to get them. In terms of cost, there will be expensive licensing fees, especially for a non-negligible number of students. Realistically, your organization could end up paying $100k – $220k per year to host 10k students.


Case Study: Global Knowledge

Global Knowledge, the largest private IT training company in the world, offers an interesting case study for this build vs. buy dilemma. About four years ago, Global Knowledge realized they needed a new learning platform that would support classroom, virtual and on-demand training. Their primary approach was to build the platform themselves. However, a year in, they realized their path of innovation was moving too slowly. Too much time was being spent shipping their needed features that were already available across a plethora of platforms, and they came to the realization that they would end up developing rudimentary features like multiple choice problems, rather than developing value-added features like custom labs or analytics.

Global Knowledge found that building their own proprietary platform offered too few features to start with, and an innovation timeline that was too long, so they chose not to build from the ground up an LMS for delivering on-demand training. They realized it would only make sense to build non-LMS capabilities, and developed a student portal, MyGK, that allows learners to access their courses, irrespective of their modality.

Global Knowledge’s second approach was to acquire an LMS startup to radically increase the features provided “out of the box.” This approach came equipped with staff to accelerate innovation. However, it was still too slow in comparison to its competitors and the at-large market of learning platforms. Although there were more features to begin with, the innovation was at a slightly higher slope but still unsatisfactory. Global Knowledge decided to make an acquisition in this space to accelerate the delivery of their learning platform, especially around digital asset management and jump-starting their team.

Finally, Global Knowledge’s third approach started in the winter of 2017-2018 under the new management of their Director of Engineer, Paul Tocatlian. The ask was simple: deliver a better solution that allows Global Knowledge to come out with a superior learning experience, cost-effectively, that allows faster innovation and can integrate with their existing backend systems.

For the reasons mentioned above, building their platform was not feasible. Neither was licensing a solution, as it would be inflexible and cost-prohibitive to license a learning platform with hundreds of thousands of users, costing Global Knowledge tens of millions per year. They had plans to innovate, and needed a cost-effective and flexible solution.

Given these considerations, Paul Tocatlian recommended using open source technology, and specifically Open edX. It comes equipped with most features, has the highest rate of innovation, extensibility, and integration. Open edX is also proven, built by MIT and Harvard for edx.org’s 11M+ learners.


More About Open edX


        Miguel Amigot II is the CTO at IBL Education (Open edX)            

Opinion: Modularize and Repurpose Your Learning Content

Producing non-credit MOOCs by using grants which cover costs has been the norm in many top universities.

But this model is unsustainable.

“My view is to modularize all of the MOOCs production for multiple purposes and dissemination channels”– explained to me by a visionary online learning manager.

That’s right. Modularize, repurpose and disseminate the learning content through multiple channels.

The focus is to design for revenue-generating professional programs.

Choose the right subjects and engaging instructors. Always produce with the learner in mind, following a specific business plan for every MOOC.

Let’s pursue a modular future.


        Mikel Amigot is the Founder of IBL News and IBL Education (Open edX)         

Opinion: Education as a Marketing Tool for Software Companies

By Miguel Amigot II

Education is a genius and growing form of marketing for software companies, especially those with developer communities.

Lower the learning barriers for newcomers and deepen the expertise of those who are already familiar with your platform.

If you can also provide micro credentials with your courses, then you’ll generate leads as people share them on social media in order to advance their careers.

You’ll also be able to drive up usage at your client companies as more team members understand your platform (thereby achieving internal network effects).

Databricks follows this strategy by issuing Apache Spark certifications, Microsoft with Azure and NVIDIA via its Deep Learning Institute at https://courses.nvidia.com


        Miguel Amigot II is the CTO at IBL Education (Open edX)         

Columbia Releases a MOOC to Help Veterans Transition to College

For veterans, making the transition from active service to school isn’t always straightforward.

Columbia University has released a free and open course on edX.org to help veterans transition smoothly to college and maximize their success.

“University Studies for Student Veterans” is the title of this 6-week, self-paced course produced by Columbia’s Center for Veteran Transition and Integration.

The course can also be utilized as a library/toolkit resource to academic success strategies, as well as a tool for flipped classroom pedagogy, or a companion text for on-the-ground transition courses.

EdX Will Participate in Cyber NYC, an Initiative Intended to Dominate Cybersecurity

edX Inc. will join the Cyber NYC initiative, a $30 million investment from the New York City Development Corporation (NYCEDC) designed to rapidly grow the city’s ecosystem and infrastructure for cybersecurity.

“The financial industry has been the lifeblood of this city for our entire history, and the costs of cybercrime are rising quickly,” explained James Patchett, CEO at NYCEDC to TechCrunch.  Currently, there are roughly 6,000 cybersecurity professionals employed in New York City. Through these programs, the number could increase by another 10,000, and a community for cyber professionals in New York City will be created.

Companies who have made commitments to the program include Facebook, Goldman Sachs, MasterCard, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and edX.org.

The Cyber NYC program is made up of five new startup programs intended to dominate cybersecurity:

  • Partnering with Jerusalem Venture Partners, an accelerator called Hub.NYC will develop enterprise cybersecurity companies by connecting them with advisors and customers. The program will be hosted in a nearly 100,000 square ft building in SoHo.
  • The city will create a new, 15,000 square ft Global Cyber Center co-working facility in Chelsea, where talented individuals in the cyber industry will be able to hang out and learn from each other through event programming and meetups.
  • With Fullstack Academy and Laguardia Community College, a Cyber Boot Camp will be created to enhance the ability of local workers to find jobs in the cybersecurity space.
  • Through an “Applied Learning Initiative,” students will be able to earn a “CUNY-Facebook Master’s Degree” in Cybersecurity. The program has participation from the City University of New York, New York University, Columbia University, Cornell Tech, and iQ4.
  • With Columbia University’s Technology Ventures, NYCEDC will introduce a program called Inventors to Founders that will work to commercialize university research.

In terms of the educational initiative, the NYCEDC’s programs will allow students to take classes at any university in the five-member consortium, and transfer credits freely — a concept that the NYCEDC bills as “stackable certificates.”

Meanwhile, Facebook partnered with the City University of New York to create a professional Master’s degree program to train a new class of cybersecurity leaders. The idea is to provide a pathway to a widely-respected credential without having to take too much time off of work.


Microsoft and edX Will Produce Courses on Education Transformation

Microsoft and edX.org teamed up to design and offer five online courses intended to help guide K-12 school leaders on challenges and opportunities of education transformation.

These on-demand courses will include the latest research, current technologies, and proven approaches to learning design from MIT professors and other educators from two other top universities. Registration is open for new school leadership online courses with edX.

EdX Launches Nine Master’s Degree Programs at $10K-$23K

The edX organization achieved an important milestone yesterday on its expansion strategy by announcing the 2019 launch of nine online Master’s degree programs at a “disruptive price” between $10,000 and $23,000. The average Master’s degree costs 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 University of Texas at Austin.

This is the full offering:

Arizona State University – Master of Science in Supply Chain Management

– Curtin University – Master of Marketing

  • Tuition: $22,254
  • Regular decision deadline: August 15, 2019

– Georgia Institute of Technology – Master of Science in Analytics

  • Top 10 Ranked
  • Tuition: $9,900
  • Early decision deadline: March 1, 2019

– Georgia Institute of Technology – Master of Science in Cybersecurity

  • Top 10 Ranked
  • Tuition: $9,920
  • Early decision deadline: March 1, 2019

– Indiana University – Master of Science in Accounting

  • Top 10 ranked
  • Tuition: $21,000
  • Initial deadline: July 1, 2019

– Indiana University – Master of Science in Information Technology Management

  • Top 10 ranked
  • Tuition: $21,000
  • Initial deadline: July 1, 2019

– University of California, San Diego – Master of Data Science

  • Tuition: $15,000

– University of Queensland – Master of Leadership in Service Innovation

  • Tuition: < $18,500
  • Regular decision deadline: June 15, 2019

– University of Texas at Austin – Master of Science in Computer Science

  • Top 10 ranked
  • Tuition: $10,000
  • Priority decision deadline: April 1, 2019

University of Edinburgh (Upcoming)

This Master’s degree offering, available at www.edx.org/masters, builds upon edX MicroMasters program.

“Workplace is changing more rapidly than ever before, and employers are in need of highly-skilled talent, especially in fields most impacted by advances in technology,” explained Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, in a blog post to announce edX’s Masters.

The launch of the Master’s programs follows the success of an initial pilot program with the Georgia Institute of Technology in Analytics, which demonstrated the impact of offering disruptively priced Master’s degrees from top-ranked institutions at scale. The program started with 250 students in Fall 2017 and has grown to more than 1,200 in Fall 2018. Tuition for Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Analytics (OMS Analytics) degree is available for less than $10,000. The residential program ranges from $36,000 for in-state students to $49,000 for out of state.


edX BlogFully Online, Top-Ranked Master’s Degrees Now Available on edX

Press Release: edX Launches New Master’s Degrees in Partnership with Top-Ranked Universities

ForbesEdX Announces A New Set Of Graduate Programs In Analytics In Partnership With Major Universities