The Hamilton Education Program Online Will Expand to All Schools

IBL News | New York

The Hamilton Education Program Online, which provides history lessons based on the Broadway smash hit Hamilton, will be available to all middle and high schools institutions from 2020 to 2021.

This fall, the Hamilton Education Program Online, also known as EduHam, is expected to spread to a wider array of students as part of a pilot program involving 76 public and private schools across the United States.

The program blends American history with performing arts, and engages students in grades 6-12 to create original works — such as poems, raps, songs and scenes — related to Alexander Hamilton and the U.S.’s founding era. It follows the model used by creator and composer of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the musical Hamilton.

The program will consist of classroom activities and digital resources that can be incorporated into a regular curriculum. Students participating in the program will have the chance to submit their performance piece and be selected to see a performance of Hamilton in New York City.

The program’s goal is to serve 250,000 students in Title I schools by 2020. So far, 138,654 students have participated in the program.

The Rockefeller Foundation — provided funding for the original Title I program and has been available to Title I schools since 2016 — is paying for the pilot expansion.

Automattic, the Company Behind WordPress, Valued at $3 Billion After Its Last Funding

Mikel Amigot | IBL News

Automattic, the company behind, WooCommerce, the Jetpack plugin and soon Tumblr, announced on Thursday that it closed a 
$300 million funding round in Series D from Salesforce Ventures. The investment puts Automattic’s valuation at $3 billion post-funding.

Today WordPress powers more than 34% of all sites on the web, claims Automattic CEO and WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg [in the picture].

The company will have close to 1,200 employees when the Tumblr acquisition closes. In August, Automattic purchased Tumblr from Verizon for $3 million, a fraction of what it was worth when Yahoo bought it for $1.1 billion in 2013. Tumblr is seen as complementary to; therefore, no major changes are planned.

The freemium business model with an open-source philosophy at its core has been working very well for Automattic Inc.

WordPress, as a free open-source software platform, is owned by a non-profit group called The WordPress Foundation, while the popular domain is privately held.

Automattic makes most of its money by selling subscriptions to software services related to the WordPress platform, like WooCommerce, an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress; Jetpack, a customization and security plugin for WordPress; and enterprise WordPress for businesses, such as VIP. It also gets revenues by selling advertising against some of the free blogs that users create on

Google and CompTIA Create a Dual Credential for Learners Seeking for Entry-Level Jobs in IT

IBL News | New York

Google announced on Thursday that it was teaming up with the nonprofit trade association CompTIA to provide a dual badge of completion for entry-level roles and support jobs in IT.

Learners who complete the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and pass the CompTIA A+ certification exams will have access to this new credential from CompTIA and Google.

This dual badge, which can be posted on LinkedIn, is intended for job seekers to stand out to IT recruiters and better attract the attention of potential employers.

Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate –a six-month program available on Coursera– aligns well with the training in CompTIA’s certification exams, according to students without a university degree.

“IT support skills are highly teachable, and a four-year degree isn’t typically required to build a successful career in this field,” said Natalie Van Kleef Conley, Product Lead at Google’s program. We knew that if we could train beginners on technical skills, we could create paths to real jobs—both at Google and at other companies across the country.”

In the United States, there are more than 215,000 open IT support roles resulting from the exponential growth of technology usage, according to CompTIA’s data.


• IT Takes Two: CompTIA and Google Put High-Growth Tech Jobs Within Reach

• CompTIA and Google Team Up to Deepen Talent Pool of IT Support Professionals





Udacity Claims a Record Growth in the Business of the Courses to Upskill Employees

IBL News | New York

Udacity for Enterprise announced on Friday that it expanded its customer roster to include Airbus, Audi, Bertelsmann, Mars Inc, Mazda, and Turkcell.

“We achieved more than 150 percent enterprise growth in worldwide bookings, driven by more than 20 new Fortune 500 enterprise customers and record customer retention rates,” Alex Varel, VP of Enterprise Sales, Udacity, said in a statement.

“This success comes on the heels of a banner year in 2018, when the business also grew by 100 percent,” he added without providing further data.

Udacity highlighted the case of a customer with 30 engineers who transitioned into artificial intelligence experts in just three months.

More than 60% of new customers enrolled their employees in Udacity’s Schools of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree programs.

Similar to Udacity’s corporate unit, Coursera for Business and edX for Business divisions are reporting this season a significant increase in revenue by providing courses and programs through their self-serve platforms to upskill employees.

Open edX | September 2019: Queensland, edX, Coursera, Udacity, FutureLearn, Novartis…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]

SEPTEMBER 2019 – NEWSLETTER #20  |  More breaking news at IBL News  |  New! Noticias en Español

Open edX

• ASU Abandons the Global Freshman Academy Project and Moves Into an Open edX Initiative

• LearnX.UQ, The University of Queensland’s New Open edX Ecosystem



• edX Appoints New Managers; JP Beaudry Will Lead the Open Source Operations

• Curtin University and Universidad Anáhuac Contribute to the edX Consortium



Coursera Signs Up New Deals to Train Employees in Latin America Through its Self-Serve Platform

• Novartis’ 108K Employees Will Have Unlimited Access to Coursera’s Catalog

• Coursera Acquires an Online Platform for Hands-On Projects In Order to Enhance Its New R&D Unit

• Universidad de los Andes Will Develop the First MOOC-Based Master’s in Spanish

• Andrew Ng Internationally Expands His AI-Based Educational and VC Companies



• Bertelsmann Will Fund 15,000 Scholarships to Learn Data, AI and Cloud Computing on Udacity

• Sebastian Thrun Picks an Executive of LendingTree as a New CEO at Udacity


Future Learn

• The University of Glasgow Will Deliver Its First Online Degree in Late 2020



2019 Learning with MOOCs Conference Unveils Its Keynote Speakers

• A MOOC that Teaches How to Create Viral Content Gets 86,000 Enrollees

• The Top 100 Free Online Courses According to Class Central



• LMS Market Won’t Grow, Continuing To Be Dominated By The Big Four

• Senators Address EdTech Top Players On Student Data Collection Practices


2019 Upcoming Events

• Education Calendar  –  SEPTEMBER  |  OCTOBER  |  NOVEMBER  |  DECEMBER  |  JAN – JUNE 2020



This newsletter about Open edX, edX, Coursera, Udacity, and other platforms is a monthly report compiled by the IBL News staff, in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company which has built the IBL Platform. It includes 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

Tense Face-To-Face Meeting Between MIT Faculty and Top Officials; No Resignations Demanded

IBL News | New York

Faculty members of MIT met Wednesday with President L. Rafael Reif and top officials to discuss Jeffrey Epstein’s donations to the institute and the university leadership’s handling of the scandal. It was a two-hour face-to-face, emotional gathering.

Reif offered an apology and acknowledged that MIT’s culture had led to accept money from the convicted sex trafficker. Meanwhile, faculty members repeatedly challenged him to ensure that the donations would not blind the university to its fundamental values.

More specifically, over 60 of MIT’s leading female faculty members raised alarms and questioned the university commitment to women academics.

Some professors defended Reif and MIT’s leadership, arguing that faculty and research must be funded, and determining which donors are appropriate is a difficult task, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The Boston Globe. One professor argued that while mistakes were made, MIT did nothing illegal.

It seems that none of the faculty members demanded Reif to step down.

Overall, the conclusion is that professors are just calling for greater transparency about who is donating money to MIT.

“I understand that I have let you down and damaged your trust in me and that our actions have injured both the institute’s reputation and the fabric of our community,” Reif said according to a statement released by the university. “I am deeply sorry.”

Reif vowed to “repair a system and a culture that failed the people” of the university.

Regarding the thank-you letter to Epstein, he said, “I did not recognize the name, and I sign many standard thank-you letters every week. That includes several hundred letters every year thanking individuals for contributions to the Institute.”

Epstein, 66, died in jail August 10 while he was waiting to be tried on federal charges of running a sex trafficking ring of underage girls, some as young as 14 years old. His death was ruled a suicide.

Remarks by President Reif at Institute faculty meeting

The following are the remarks, as prepared for delivery, by President L. Rafael Reif at today’s Institute faculty meeting. [MIT News]

Good afternoon, and welcome to our first faculty meeting of the year.

Out of fairness to our colleagues in the Media Lab, I want to start with a correction to the agenda that we sent out to faculty this week. The title for this section read “Media Lab.”

But it is obvious that the topics we will discuss this afternoon concern all of MIT.

Let me take this moment to express my appreciation to the Media Lab faculty, students and staff, and to the interim leadership team, who are working so hard to begin a new chapter.

Over the last few weeks, our whole community has experienced deep pain, sadness and disappointment. Many of you have expressed those feelings to me directly. I know that many of you are angry about the whole situation, and angry at me.

But I will not presume that I know or understand how all of you are feeling or how you have experienced these events. Learning more about that is a central goal of this meeting.

I do know that this is a disorienting time for all of us at the Institute. I have spent my entire career in this community and this institution. I look out at all of you this afternoon, and I see faculty colleagues I have known for decades, and many others just at the beginning of amazing careers. I see students who have chosen MIT as the place to start their journey.

I see staff who came to MIT specifically to support the Institute’s inspiring work. And I have been hearing from alumni around the world who care deeply about the strength and stature of this institution.

I know all of you work as hard as you can every day to advance our mission. And I know you are accustomed to feeling proud of MIT.

I am too.

So I am deeply distressed, and I am deeply sorry, that steps which I and others took, and failed to take, have been part of bringing this trouble to all of you – to the people of MIT.

I understand that I have let you down and damaged your trust in me, and that our actions have injured both the Institute’s reputation and the fabric of our community.

Yet I also know that MIT’s reputation is firmly rooted in the brilliant work that you and our whole community have been doing, and sharing with the world, for decades, and that you will continue to do. And I know that the fabric of MIT is incredibly strong. I hope the conversation we have today will be a first step towards restoring that fabric – and making it even stronger.

The purpose of today’s meeting is to hear the concerns of faculty and students, to do our best to answer your questions and to help the Institute begin to regain its balance
and momentum.

Before we open the discussion, I would like to address three questions I have heard repeatedly in the last few days and then highlight a few things I have learned in the last month.  To the questions:

First: Many people have been asking how the results of the fact-finding will be shared with the community. The decision on this matter rests with the group that I report to: the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation.

The goal of the review is to bring clarity to the interactions with Epstein so that we can correct what went wrong, and then work together to establish principles to prevent anything like it from happening again. I do not know how or what the Executive Committee will choose to share. But I know that they are mindful, as I am, that, as MIT begins to recover from this period of distress, crucial information must be shared, so the community can have confidence in the fact-finding process.

Second: Many students have asked how I could have signed that acknowledgment letter without asking questions, and how I could fail to remember it. The answer is simple: I did not recognize the name, and I sign many standard thank-you letters every week. That includes several hundred letters every year thanking individuals for contributions to the Institute.

Third: I know that for many of you, the four letters I have sent to the community since August 22 were maddening – a drip-drip-drip of information. I make no excuses for that frustrating result, and I certainly wish I could have done it differently. But in each case, I was responding to the facts I had at the time. So I would like to explain why I sent each of those letters.

On August 22, I wrote because it seemed vital to share what we knew then about the total of Epstein’s gifts to MIT, to apologize to the girls and young women he victimized, and to begin to make amends by committing to contribute the money to a relevant charity and by launching an internal review.

On September 7th, after the New Yorker article, the situation clearly demanded external fact-finding, so I wrote again. Two days later, I wrote again to make sure the community heard from me, not from the media, that we had engaged a fact-finding team at Goodwin Procter.

That letter was also important to give individuals a direct way to share information with the factfinders and to share the initial next steps for the Media Lab community. The final letter conveyed new information that the factfinders had learned – information that I did not have clarity about before then. I wanted to dispel any assumptions you might have drawn from my earlier letters and replace them with definite facts, right away.

I know this last letter in particular generated confusion and dismay. I was trying to convey “just the facts” of what I had learned from the factfinders, without editorializing about them. But after hearing from many of you, I understand now that, unfortunately, you understood me to be trying to distance myself from responsibility for the events and decisions involved. I especially regret that, since it is the opposite of what I intended.

In the end, as I have said, I made mistakes of judgment. I take responsibility for those errors. And I hope to take responsibility for the work that must begin now: repairing the damage and rebuilding trust.

MIT is known for its willingness to face difficult facts, and to run towards problems, not away from them. I am trying to do that now.

We are already taking some steps in that direction:

As you know, I asked Provost Marty Schmidt to launch an internal review of how we assess donor relationships and gift agreements, so we can correct the flaws in our process and practices. He’ll talk briefly about that in a moment, as well as about the transition team at the Media Lab.

The outside law firm, Goodwin Procter, is fully engaged in its fact-finding now.  At the end of my remarks, Vice President and General Counsel Mark DiVincenzo will give an update on that process.

And to follow through on our earlier commitment, we are working with MIT’s Office of Violence Prevention and Response to identify appropriate charities that serve victims of sexual abuse, like Jeffrey Epstein’s young victims – the victims whose suffering we failed to see.

Which brings me to what I have learned.

The practical steps I just mentioned are necessary. But the two reviews focus mainly on process. And, as many of you have told me very clearly, we do have a process problem – but what we really have is a culture problem, because, as I am learning, our processes and practices reflect some entrenched and destructive attitudes and cultural assumptions at MIT.

I believe they fall into two categories:

The first is around money. From conversations across our community, I know that many people have deep concerns about sources we have relied on to raise funds for the work of the Institute. In this time of growing fortunes and shrinking federal funds, we need to look at everything from the changing nature of the donor population to how we should weigh the political, cultural and economic impacts of donors’ behavior. We need to examine the issues associated with anonymous giving – and much more.

In short, people are telling me that to guide how we choose to accept philanthropic gifts, we need to develop a new set of principles, clearly grounded in our community’s values. I agree.

We also need to work on addressing the power relationships and other cultural factors that kept people, especially students and staff, from feeling that they could question or stop bad decisions much sooner.

For me, the last few weeks have been a time to reflect on the incredible bravery of the several members of the Media Lab who took the risk of calling out the bad judgments and bad practices they saw. As an institution, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

And beyond the serious problems around gifts and donors, I have heard a second area of intense concern. Female faculty, post-docs, students and staff across MIT are telling me that this is a “last-straw” moment, that allowing Jeffrey Epstein to stain our reputation was only the latest example of how many in our community, and the tech world in general, devalue the lives, experiences and contributions of women and girls.

I am humbled that it took this cascade of misjudgments for me to truly see this persistent dynamic and appreciate its full impact. It’s now clear to me that the culture that made possible the mistakes around Jeffrey Epstein has prevailed for much too long at MIT. We need to stop looking away from bad behavior and start taking the time to see what it costs us as a community. This moment of crisis must be the moment of reckoning – and a turn towards real accountability.

The questions raised in the last month are profound, especially the cultural ones. Some have even asked if MIT has lost its way – if the Institute we all love has changed fundamentally and irretrievably. For me, the answer is an emphatic no.  MIT is still MIT. It is still the remarkable community that drew us all here in the first place.

But this disturbing period has shed a harsh new light on some elements of our culture that are serving us very poorly.

Since I played a role in this problem, I feel a deep responsibility to help repair a system and a culture that failed the people of MIT.

We need to identify and root out the cultural factors that contributed to these troubling errors and outcomes, so we can prevent damage like this in the future. We need to examine honestly what is wrong and work together to correct it. We need better processes, of course – better administrative guardrails. But we also need to make sure that, from our principles to our culture, the path forward is shaped by our community’s essential values. Because what we really want is a values path so clear and firm that people never have to run up against the guardrails at all.

I do believe that institutions are capable of serious, deliberate change. Along with MIT’s other senior leaders, I am committed to, and I am certain we are capable of, real change.

But cultural change is the hardest of all. Which means that achieving this transformation will take the sustained commitment and creativity of the whole community.

In other words – we need your help. I need your help.

Right now, I know that the most important thing that I and MIT’s other senior leaders can do to “run toward” this problem is to listen – to listen to all of you.

This is a difficult moment, but MIT will learn from it – I have learned from it, I will keep striving to learn from it, my senior leadership will learn from it. I hope I can begin to regain your trust – and I believe that together we can, and we will, find a constructive path forward.





Coursera Signs Up New Deals to Train Employees in Latin America Through its Self-Serve Platform

IBL News | New York

Coursera announced yesterday three new partnership deals in Latin America. It also reported that over 40 businesses have hired its self-serve platform, Coursera for Business, in Colombia and Mexico.

  • Coursera Business will train 2,200 university professors and engineering students in AI skills, after its agreement with the Colombia Ministry of Information and Technology Communication.
  • Insurance company BNP Paribas Cardiff, in Colombia, will offer to its customers Coursera courses on data science, business or IT skills, in addition to career resources like job-boards and resume counsel.
  • Qualfon, a Mexican business outsourcing company, is providing Coursera’s online classes in leadership, computer science, and business to its 14,000 employees. “6,000 employees have benefited from the program so far, with 94 percent having applied their newly acquired skills to their personal and professional life,” Qualfon claimed.

Recently, Universidad de Los Andes announced plans to develop a master’s degree in software engineering on Coursera.

“Colombia and Mexico have incredible potential to become innovation drivers for the region but have economic challenges to overcome,” Leah Belsky SVP of Enterprise at Coursera, stated. “The steep unemployment rate in Colombia makes it challenging for individuals to find stable jobs and for companies to acquire sufficient talent; Mexico similarly faces rising unemployment, while also challenged by automation, with more than half of jobs are at risk.”



ASU Abandons the Global Freshman Academy Project and Moves Into an Open edX Initiative

IBL News | New York

Arizona State University (ASU) is abandoning its for-credit MOOC experiment on, known as Global Freshman Academy, due to low enrollment and completion results.

When this project, developed in partnership with nonprofit edX, was launched in 2015, the expectation was to disrupt undergraduate education at the freshman level by attracting thousands of students. To achieve it, the Global Freshman Academy (GFA) allowed students to obtain college credit and pay for it only if they successfully pass the courses.

“Hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in the academy’s free online courses, but four years later, only a fraction have completed a course, and just a minuscule number paid to receive college credit for their efforts,” reported Inside Higher Ed yesterday. In detail, of 373,000 people who enrolled, only 8,090 completed a course with a grade of C or better, just over 2 percent of all students enrolled. Around 1,750 students (0.47 percent) paid to receive college credit for completing a course, and fewer than 150 students (0.028 percent) went on to pursue a full degree at ASU.

“The university has quietly moved in a new direction,” wrote Lindsay McKenzie, at Inside Higher Ed.

Philip Regier, Dean for Educational Initiatives at ASU, explained, “the university has been focusing its attention on a new online initiative called Earned Admission.”

This new project will be hosted on a custom Open edX platform and include high-demand courses [catalog].

The Earned Admission pathway allows any person over 22 years old to gain admission to ASU if they complete four courses and earn a 2.75 GPA. Courses can be taken for credit at a cost of $400 per course.



MIT Scientist Richard Stallman, Who Defended an Associate of Epstein, Resigns From CSAIL and FSF

IBL News | New York

Richard Stallman, the MIT computer scientist who said the alleged sex-abuse victims of an associate of Epstein were “entirely willing” resigned on Monday.

“I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT,” he wrote on his personal site in a post addressed to the MIT community.  “I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.”

In parallel, he also stepped down from his position as president of the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

“The board will be conducting a search for a new president, beginning immediately,” Stallman backed foundation said in a blog post.


Stallman, an open-source legend [in the picture], had argued in a leaked email thread from last week that Marvin Minsky – an AI pioneer who died in 2016 and was accused of assaulting one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre – had not actually assaulted anyone.

He also argued over the definition of “sexual assault” and “rape” and whether the term applied to Minsky and Giuffre.

“The word ‘assaulting’ presumes that he applied force or violence, in some unspecified way, but the article itself says no such thing. Only that they had sex,” he wrote, referring to an article about Giuffre’s testimony against Minsky. “The most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him an entirely willing.”

The thread was leaked to VICE by MIT alum Selam Jie Gano. He said Stallman was responding to a female student’s email about an MIT protest related to Epstein’s donations to the elite university.

The student pointed out that Giuffre allegedly was forced to have sex with Minsky in Epstein’s home in the Virgin Islands. Stallman replied, “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”

Creator of the FSF

Richard Stallman, aka RMS, started the non-profit Free Software Foundation (FSF) in 1983 with a belief that users can and should be able to use, modify and share programs freely.

Stallman along with other technologists built one of the biggest free operation systems known as GNU/Linux. FSF also developed the General Public License (GPL).

Stanford and Santa Fe Institute Took Money From Epstein; Harvard Had More Ties

IBL News | New York

Stanford University and The Santa Fe Institute added their names to the list of universities that accepted donations from sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who last month committed suicide in a New York jail cell.

In addition, more ties were reported about Epstein’s association with Harvard-related institutions, after he was forbidden from donation to the university.

  • Stanford acknowledged that it received $50,000 from Epstein’s COUQ Foundation Inc. in 2004. This happened two years before the disgraced financier was convicted. The donation went to the institutions’ physics department.
  • The Santa Fe Institute, a renowned science research and education center New Mexico, was the beneficiary of $275,000, including a $25,000 donation in 2010, Albuquerque Journal reported.
  • Harvard University’s association with Jeffrey Epstein did not end in 2008, as the institution’s current president, Lawrence Bacow, mentioned last week.

    “Epstein continued to come and go freely on campus,” wrote yesterday. “In 2012, for instance, he attended a meeting in Martin Nowak’s office with financier Leon Black and other men including Henry Rosovsky, the dean of Harvard’s faculty of arts and sciences. He even put photos of the meeting on his website.”As previously reported by WBUR, Epstein gave $50,000 in 2016 to the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770, a non-profit that supports 3 Harvard clubs. He also gave $110,000 to Verse Video Education, a nonprofit run by Elisa New, who is married to former Harvard president Lawrence Summers.

Regarding the MIT Media Lab’s scandal, The Boston Globe informed this weekend that the institution asked some staffer to send thank you notes and dine with Epstein after he made donations to the institute’s Media Lab, according to architect and designer Neri Oxman.

Oxman detailed how she was asked to first present her research to Epstein in 2015, several years after he had already been convicted and served jail time in Florida for prostitution-related offenses. Former Media Lab director Joi Ito asked Oxman and others that the donations would be kept confidential because of Epstein’s criminal record, but yet they were asked to dine with Epstein and send him thank you notes. Oxman says she declined to dine with Epstein but did comply to Ito’s request to have her lab make him a thank-you gift: a grapefruit-sized, 3-D printed marble with a base that lit up.

Given this situation, The Boston Globe released a story wondering “Can the MIT Media Lab Save Itself?”

“The most important thing for the lab to survive immediately is to help current sponsors feel that funding the lab is still a good decision,” writes Eric Scheirer, who earned two degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1990s, and later was a corporate sponsor of the lab while employed at Framingham-based Bose Corp. “I must imagine that many of the companies are asking ‘What kind of place are we putting our money into?’ And that, in turn, feels precarious to me — I can imagine well a scenario in which lab funding basically collapses in a way that is not recoverable.”