Face-to-face-meet-ups in New York will attract MOOCs students


People who participate in face-to-face-meet-ups complete their courses at significantly higher rates than the typical MOOC students.

In the Summer, the New York Public Library, following its public-serivce mission, and in partnership with Coursera, plans to organize at least half-dozen of free meet-ups in which students taking MOOCs can gather and discuss the courses with help from trained facilitators.

Coursera.com, the leading MOOC platform, plans to set up eight similar “learning hubs” in a number of locations.

In these sort of physical classrooms where students receive a more hands-on teaching approach, completion rates might surpass 30%, compared to 6.8% for all courses merely offered by Coursera.

Google will release an education platform for teacher-student communication

On September, as part of Google’s Apps for Education lineup of products, the giant search engine will release Classroom— an education platform and app for teacher-student communication.

  • It will use Docs, Drive and Gmail to create and collect assignments.
  • It will create Drive folders for each assignment and for each student.
  • It will let teachers make announcements, ask questions and field student responses in real time.

In other words, this free LMS will also provide:

  • Assignments;
  • Grading;
  • Real-time questions and feedback on student work;
  • Announcements;
  • Commenting; and
  • Homework collection and organization.

In a way, many folks are already using that process. Google is now basically streamlining this process.

So far, Google is keeping Classroom invite-only. First group of pilot testers will start in June.






NYU analyzes best and next practices in online education

There is a need for quality and unique learning pedagogy. But what are the best and next practices?

In order to seek answers, this week NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering organized a series of discussions. We had a great conversation about this topic at Poly’s Pfizer Auditorium, in Brooklyn, New York.

The video above can give you an idea.

The first session’s streaming video is here. Thoughts were shared through this Twitter account via #NYUonline.

(Below, Professor Peter Voltz during his keynote).



Google turns off its ad scanning in Gmail and education apps

Google has announced this week in an online statement that it had permanently removed all ads from its Apps for Education, including its Gmail service. The search giant will no longer collect or use student data.

The change comes as Google is facing growing scrutiny over how it collects and analyzes data for advertising, particularly among students.

About 40 percent of nonprofit colleges use Google for institutional email.

Udacity will charge students who want a certificate


Udacity, one of the big three MOOC providers, will no longer give learners free, “non-verified” certificates.

People will still be able to view Udacity’s online course materials without paying. However, those who want a credential will be charged.

Lately Udacity has been designing courses at a cost of $150 per month that include contact with human coaches, project-based assignments, and job-placement services.

How to choose the right LMS for your K-12 school


A great LMS (Learning Management System) can improve the teaching and learning of teachers and students.

But how to does one choose the right one?

The K12 Director of Instructure / Canvas LMS has come up with some tips. Let us summarize them while we add our view.

The perfect LMS platform should:

      • Open doors for teaching and learning in a way that is intuitive and easy.
      • Amplify schools’ strengths, accelerate progress toward goals and support future needs.
      • Integrate blended and online delivery models easier.
      • Suggest new ways of designing and teaching online courses.
      • Engage users by encouraging interaction and empowering to take ownership of their own learning.
      • Feature fresh navigation and custom toolset.
      • Reduce the impact on faculty of IT.
      • Be highly scalable and flexible to adapt and grow with your district.
      • Integrate with third-party tools through an open API, as well as an app center –such as EduAppCenter.com– “with hundreds of technology tools that teachers can install and use without ever having to talk to IT.
      • Be extremely reliable, with 99.9% uptime possible. Having an LMS down for maintenance, an unexpected outage, causes great stress for students and teachers.
      • Have a partner and service provider that is responsive, supportive and collaborative.
      • Test it previously in a sandbox environment in order to have a first-hand look at the platform’s capabilities.

EduAppCenter.com – the largest LMS app ecosystem in the industry


The Canvas Platform team has launched the renewed and refreshed EduAppCenter.com. Which is a new public catalog of LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) integrations and 135 of applications.

The improved popular apps include: Khan Academy, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, School Tube, Redirect Tool, Quizlet, etc.

LTI is a standard means of putting remotely hosted, third-party applications onto LMS platforms and educational portals. In other words, an open education technology ecosystem for education.

Canvas has the largest, most open LMS app ecosystem in the industry.

“An open education technology ecosystem creates more opportunities for innovation to thrive,” said Jared Stein, vice president of research and education at Instructure in a statement. “The new EduAppCenter.com website encourages startups and innovators to create apps that work across LMS providers. This means less time integrating one-off technology and more time designing tools and curriculum for new ways of learning.”


Amazon-style users' reviews in the 'MOOCsphere' – Decide whether to take that course or not

Amazon-style users’ reviews arrive in the moocsphere.

On each course’s description page, MOOCs platform EdX.org has started to display a sidebar with reviews, star ratings, and in-depth comments. For this feature, Edx has teamed up with CourseTalk.

By reading peers’ reviews, users can decide whether they should take a course or not.

  • Prospective students will be able to quickly evaluate if an online course is a good fit for them before they enroll.
  • Professors will be able to have their work recognized (or not).
  • Students will help to identify best practices in online teaching and learning.
  • Academic organizations will gain recognition and help increase demand for their courses.



A MOOC to make blended learning available to educators

Blended learning –the strategic combination of face-to-face and online learning experiences– is growing in popularity within higher education and K-12 settings.

Well, now there is a free MOOC intended to provide assistance when developing and designing blended learning courses. BlendKit2014 – Becoming a Blended Learning Designer is a five-week MOOC that starts in April 21. It is offered on Canvas.net by Educause and the University of Central Florida.

The creators will share the valuable tools, information, and methods that have been developed during the past two decades. The course involves:

  • Readings from scholarly works pertaining to blended learning
  • Document templates and practical step-by-step “how to” guides
  • Blogging/social networking interaction opportunities
  • Regular interactions with facilitators and students
  • Expert and peer assessment and critique on design work

Participants may choose to pursue a credential from the Universal Central Florida/EDUCAUSE as “Certified Blended Learning Designer”, as well as digital badge that can be linked to their EDUCAUSE profile and displayed on professional and social networks. For that, they will need to submit a portfolio review –available for $89.



A MOOC on edx.org about helping charities the Buffett way

Warren Buffett billionaire appears in videos that are part of a free MOOC offered by his sister Doris on EdX’s platform.

Giving With Purpose: How to get the most out of your charitable giving” course is produced by Northwestern University and Doris Buffett’s Learning By Giving Foundation.

  • It teaches to identify effective nonprofit organizations and apply course concepts by awarding more than $100,000 in grants to student-nominated nonprofits.
  • It is designed to help students “become more purposeful givers and engage more effectively with nonprofit organizations in their communities.”
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