France's top universities launch their MOOC offer in January 2014

The France Université Numérique FUN’s online MOOCs courses will begin in January 2014.

Courses are designed by France’s top higher education institutions. “The main goal is to make higher education courses accessible to everyone, by combining course videos, course evaluations, tutorials, peer correction and online interaction with teachers,” they state.

There will be various disciplines: mathematics, history, philosophy, biology, law, etc. Two MOOCs in mathematics have been created by Cédric Villani, winner of the Fields Medals (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematicians). École Centrale Paris has designed a course on sustainable development, while Panthéon Assas-Paris II University has created one on justice.

The France Digital University project, built through Open EdX’s software [disclosure: our company integrates this platform commercially], was launched in October 2013; along with Chinese universities’ project, this is one of the most important MOOC initiative in the world.



Khan Academy will provide MOOCs to Comcast's low-income customers

Khan Academy –the non-profit education website that covers everything from beginner computer programming to chemistry, history and finance– will provide free digital education materials to Comcast’s low-income broadband subscribers.

This multi-year and multi-million dollar partnership will bring MOOCs into the homes of lower-income learners –and help fulfill one of the promises of MOOCs – to broaden access to education.


Enrich your LinkedIn profile with a MOOC completion credential

As you complete MOOCs and earn certificates, you can update your LinkedIn profile to include your educational accomplishments.

LinkedIn understands that your profile is the 24/7 representation of your professional knowledge and achievements. For that purpose, the social network company has teamed up with some of the biggest names in online education, like Coursera, EdX, Udacity, Udemy,, Pearson and Skillsoft to make it easy for members to update their profiles.

This new program, called “Direct-to-Profile Certifications”, allows users to display online courses they have completed on their LinkedIn profile by clicking a link in an email from the course provider.

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College-level courses for AP high school students through the edX platform

To ease the way for students struggling with AP (Advanced Placement) courses, why not design online lessons and deliver them through a great educational and college-level platform?

This is what Davidson College in North Carolina, with 1,800 students, is doing by partnering with edX – the eLearning platform overseen by Harvard University and MIT – as well as the nonprofit College Board.

This venture presents a push into another fast-growing area – online high school instruction.

High school teachers will be able to use online courses in their classes or assign them as homework, thereby blending a class with online and live teaching.

The lessons will also be available online via the platform for students trying to learn the subject independently.

It offers also the possibility to earn college credit.

Today numerous high school students are taking MOOCs through and

  • “Some are actually getting credit from their schools for passing the MOOCs. Developing AP lessons is a natural next step,” says Anant Agarwal, president of edX.
  • “You can’t explain electromagnetic waves in physics in seven minutes, so we’d break it up into bite-size chunks, and have a series of videos, interspersed with interactive game-like exercises, to make up the learning sequence.”
  • “About 5 to 10 percent of our learners are high school students, and based on our experience with them, 7-8 minute long videos get the highest engagement,” he adds

The AP program offers high school courses in more than 30 subjects, from the arts to world languages, that aim to give students a taste of work at the college level. Students who pass tests in those subjects may earn college credit.

A leading corporation adopts edX platform to deliver an improved training experience


Tenaris, the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of steel, has adopted the Open edx software to enhance their existing training programs.

By developing blended learning models and migrating some existing training courses online, this company will deliver an improved training system to nearly 27,000 employees worldwide through its own Tenaris University.

The xConsortium university partners will develop courses specifically designed for Tenaris’ employees. They will also license specific edX courses to use in their training programs around the world.

“This partnership with edX is particularly exciting because introducing the most technologically advanced methods of education is part of our goal to continuously improve and innovate in the training of our people,” said Paolo Rocca, Tenaris Chairman and CEO.

The edX Consortium has also customized premium course packages for the International Monetary Fund.

U.S. Embassies launch MOOC Camps to engage young people and promote interest in American education


The U.S. Department of State has launched a new initiative called MOOC Camps to host facilitated discussions around massive open online courses (MOOCs) at U.S. Embassies, Consulates, American Spaces, and other public areas in more than 40 countries around the world. Participation in the program is free and open to the public.

These discussions are led by alumni who have participated in U.S. government exchange programs, such as the Fulbright program, and U.S. Embassy staff, who are familiar with the course materials.

Subjects range from entrepreneurship and college writing to science and technology.

Course content is drawn from major MOOC providers, including edX and Coursera, as well as from multiple CourseWare providers.

This is a sample of a course, provided by Berkeley: Writing 2.1x: Principles of Written English

Participants in the program will also be able to learn more about opportunities to study in the United States through EducationUSA, a network of hundreds of student advising centers around the world that the State Department supports.

In the last weeks France’s Ministry of Higher Education announced an edX open-source based platform to power their new nationwide MOOC and blended learning portal, France Universite Numerique. Also, a group of leading Chinese universities unveiled the creation –built through the Open edX software– of a new MOOC portal called XuetangX, which is split into two parts: the massive open online public course and a blended learning portal for on-campus students.


Another announcement came this month. The Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development unveiled the creation of the MOOC portal Edraak, becoming “the first massive open online course portal for the Arab world.” Edraak will offer, at no cost, Arabic translations of select courses from edX partners. The portal will also develop its own courses in Arabic with help from leading Arab faculty and professionals.





How to measure college's success

How can colleges and universities know if they are doing well?

Consider these metrics:

“The number of start-up companies begun by undergraduate students as a fraction of the total student body; contributions to society through service, philanthropy and leadership after graduation; and success in life and career 5 and 10 years after graduation.”

We took this point from a letter I read in the NYT.

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.