Massive distribution of 20,000 iPads in a district school in California

A growing number of schools are weaving iPads into the classroom in an ambitious effort to transform how kids learn and narrow the digital divide with wealthier districts.

The Coachella Valley Unified district in California is rolling out iPads to every student, pre-kindergarten through high school. It stands for a massive distribution of nearly 20,000 iPads! At a cost of nearly $9 million.

Students in seventh grade and above take their tablets home on the evenings, weekends and every school break except summer. Sixth grade and below leave the devices in a locked classroom cart.

“The whole paradigm has really shifted. Teachers are no longer the possessors of knowledge. They’re more the facilitators of learning,” has explained the district’s educational technology coordinator, according a story posted at NPR.

“The goal is to transform what I do in the classroom into something completely different: to take them outside of class, spark curiosity and inspire the learning process,” explains another teacher.

For sure, the iPad is a fantastic tool to promote individualize learning.

European MOOC platform will attract a million students in 2014

A Germany-based MOOC provider, iversity.org, went online in October with over 115,000 students on day one, becoming the leading European MOOC platform.

Courses are design to attract a million students by the end of next year, according the company.

The top three courses so far are “The Future of Storytelling,” from the University of Applied Sciences, in Potsdam, Germany (29,000 students); “Design 101 (or Design Basics),” from the Academy of Fine Arts, in Catania, Italy (18,000 students); and “Public Privacy: Cyber Security and Human Rights,” from the Humboldt Viadrina School of Governance, in Berlin (17,000 students). Note that this course was dedicated to a cutting-edge topic that gained world-wide prominence through the revelations of Edward Snowden.

iversity.org’s MOOC curriculum spans a wide range of topics from philosophy to physics, architecture to economics, and politics to engineering. In some of the courses, students will be granted credit points in accordance with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

“We are thrilled and a little proud to be going live with such a strong curriculum of fascinating MOOCs. We receive requests from professors and institutions wanting to produce a MOOC on a daily basis. This is a clear sign that universities and professors have recognised the potential for bringing university-level education online,” said Hannes Klöpper, Co-Founder and Managing Director of iversity.

Flipped classroom model expands all over the U.S.

Flipped classrooms are popping up all over the U.S..

And while MOOCs might be controversial, the flipped classroom – one where students watch teachers’ lectures at home or on-the-go and leave assignments and projects for class – is a strategy that nearly everyone agrees with.

“Many people are holding the flipped classroom model as a potential model of how to use technology to humanize the classroom,” says The New York Times in an article.

One of the institutions that has taken advantage of flipping is the Clintondale High School, in Detroit.

  • “Flipping a classroom changes several things. One is what students do at home. At first, teachers assigned 20-minute videos, but they now make them shorter — six minutes, even three minutes. That promotes re-watching. The school also uses audio files and readings as homework, and uses videos from the Khan Academy, TED and other sources. Many students do not ask questions in class, worried they will look dumb. But they can watch a video over and over without fear,” writes Tina Rosenberg expert in education and best-selling author.
  • “It’s actually more time for kids to do higher-order thinking and hands-on projects. Instead of presenting the information in class and having students work on projects at home, where they don’t necessarily have support, here in class, one-on-one or in small groups, I can help them immediately. Students can also help each other, a process that benefits both the advanced and less advanced learners,” explains another expert.

Chinese leading universities chose edX's open source to power a large education portal

EdX’s open source platform has been selected by a consortium of leading Chinese universities to power China’s newest and largest online learning portal, XuetangX.

This MOOC and blended learning portal – which was launched last week –  will feature courses from leading and high-quality universities in China, including Tsinghua University, Peking University, Zhejiang University, Nanjing University, University of Science and Technology of China, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Renmin University Of China, Beijing Normal University, China Agricultural University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and National Tsinghua University.

While powered by edX’s open source platform, XuetangX will be independent, separate and distinct from edX.org. (Update.)

On the other hand, last month MITx –a division of MIT that offers courses on edX– announced that certificates would be offered to students who completed a prescribed syllabus of courses.

Desire2Learn joins Blackboard and Instructure in the MOOCs market

Another course-management company enters the market for MOOCs.

Desire2Learn unveiled a MOOC-enabled version of its online-learning platform, joining two competitors, Blackboard and Instructure (Canvas).

Desire2Learn Open Courses integrates online assets commonly used for classroom instruction and the MOOC system, preventing students and faculty members from having to log into different accounts. It allows professors and institutions to import content from the existing Desire2Learn platform, create their own MOOCs, and maintain copyrights on their own materials.