LabXchange, Harvard’s Science Platform, Provides a Free Tool to Create Online Classes and Pathways

IBL News | New York, the Open edX-based platform created by Harvard University and Amgen Foundation, is providing a free tool for educators to create online and hybrid classes and pathways with science content.

The platform lets instructors select vetted content from Harvard, OpenStax, Khan Academy and other sources, remix it with private materials, build collaboration and share ideas with a small group of learners –with a maximum of 100 users.

“Due to economic and geographic limitations, millions of students worldwide lack opportunities to engage meaningfully in the scientific process, which has led to significant gaps in scientific literacy and in diversity across scientific fields,” explained Robert Lue, Director at the platform.

LabXchange is essentially designed to support educators in creating customized learning experiences. The content-type offered on the LabXchange library includes video, text, image, simulation, assignment, pathway, narrative, assessment, and cluster. Some animations allow learners to learn by doing in the digital space.

Subject areas include Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Science & Society, Physics, Health Science, Global Health, Prepare For Careers, Prepare For College, Scientific Process, Online Learning, Professional Development, and Prepare for Graduate School.

An interesting pathway content available at the LabXchange platform is “Coronavirus: From Bats to Humans to Pandemic”.

Soon, teachers will be able to track students’ progress and individually contact learners.

This video below explains the main features:


These two tutorials recently posted, shows how to create a class and a pathway at LabXchange.

More stories about LabXchange at IBL News

edX & Platforms | April 2020: Remote Access Program, Coursera, Nvidia, Udacity, Blackboard…

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APRIL 2020 – NEWSLETTER #26  |  Breaking news at IBL News  |  Noticias en Español

Coursera | edX 

• Coursera and edX Launch Initiatives to Support Universities Impacted by the Outbreak

• IBM, Microsoft, Harvard, MIT, and 40 Universities Join the edX ‘Remote Access’ Program

• Harvard University’s President, Lawrence Bacow, Tests Positive for Coronavirus


Open edX

• NVIDIA Issues a Free Certificate Course About AI Video Analytics on Its ‘Deep Learning Institute’ Platform

• The Open edX Annual Conference Suspended Amid the Virus Concerns


Learning at Scale

• Offers One Free Month Access to Nanodegree Programs

• MiriadaX, with 4M Spanish-Language Learners, Continues to Look for a Buyer


Other Platforms

• Blackboard Shifts Away From the Open Source Business By Selling Its Moodle Based Business

• Facebook Unveils a Virtual Community to Fight Rumors About Covid-19


2020 Upcoming Events   [All of the conferences are canceled or moved online due to the Coronavirus – CDC Recommendations]

• Education Calendar  –  APRIL  |  MAY  |  JUNE  |  JULY – DEC  |  Conferences in Latin America & Spain

This newsletter is created in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company specialized in open-source learning platforms. Read the latest IBL Newsletter   |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

MiriadaX, with 4M Spanish-Language Learners, Continues to Look for a Buyer

IBL News | New York

MiríadaX, the largest  Spanish-language MOOC platform, continues to be on sale after its owner, Telefónica, decided to focus on its core telecommunications business.

According to the digital newspaper El Español, the Spanish telecom giant Telefónica is selling its entire Telefónica Educación Digital (TED) division, a unit specialized on online education and training solutions. Created in 2001, and with a staff of 400 employees spread around Spain, Colombia, Chile, Perú and Brazil, TED reported 10 million euros yearly in revenue.

Its most known asset, was launched in 2013. The platform claims to host over 4 million learners, 690 courses and a network of 105 universities.

“In a market largely controlled by a handful of providers, the announcement emphasizes the challenges of serving learners outside the English-speaking world,” Dhawal Shah wrote on Class Central. Offers One Free Month Access to Nanodegree Programs

IBL News | New York is offering one free month on one of the 40 premium Nanodegree programs. The offer is only for the U.S. and Europe and is limited to one Nanodegree program per student.

The average price for an individual signing up for a nanodegree is about $400 a month. Degrees take anywhere from four to six months to complete, according to the company.

“If you’ve been laid-off, or stuck working at home, or even have stir-crazy kids that need something to do, we can help,” Stephanie Lager, manager at Udacity wrote in a blog post.

“We want to help students, small business owners, gig workers, and employees of large companies accelerate their education and career upskilling by offering one free month on any Udacity program,” Gabe Dalporto, CEO at Udacity, said.

“We know that in some cases this can’t replace lost income or time in class, but it can help provide opportunities to sharpen much-needed skills that are necessary for the future of work,” he added.

The learning company plans to announce new initiatives over the coming weeks and months.

Coursera and edX Launch Initiatives to Support Universities Impacted by the Outbreak

IBL News | New York

The CEOs of the two leading MOOC platforms, Jeff Maggioncalda, from Coursera, and Anant Agarwal, from edX, stepped in this week to offer price-reduced programs to help universities impacted by the coronavirus.

Coursera announced that it will provide the Coursera for Campus‘ course catalog free to universities impacted by the coronavirus. These institutions will have access to 3,800 courses and 400 Specializations until July 31. Students who enroll in Coursera courses on or before July 31 will retain access until Sept. 30, 2020.

“Over the next few days, we will also hold webinars and share more resources, including experiences from our partner community, to help institutions looking to transition online during this crisis,” Jeff Maggioncalda wrote on a blog post.

Over the past few weeks, Duke University has been using Coursera for Campus to serve impacted students at their Duke Kunshan campus in China.

With universities all over the world looking to quickly move face-to-face classes online, massive open online course companies Coursera and edX have stepped in to offer access to their vast portfolios of course content.

For its part, edX launched an initiative – called the Remote Access Program – to provide students from partner universities with free access to courses on edX.

“We believe that by sharing access to content across a global group of universities, we can unite like-minded students and instructors to learn as a digital community,” Anant Agarwal announced on the corporate blog.

SUNY and CUNY Move to Online Learning

Regarding the pandemic chaos in higher education, closures or moving into online classes continue to accelerate. Several statewide systems and more than 100 colleges and universities announced these moves.

One of the most notorious examples was SUNY and CUNY. The state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced the State University of New York and City University of New York systems would move to distance learning for the rest of the semester. “This will help us reduce density and reduce the spread of this virus,” the governor said in a statement on Twitter.


The Open edX Annual Conference Suspended Amid the Virus Concerns

IBL News | New York 

The edX organization announced yesterday the cancellation of the 2020 Open edX Conference, to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from May 19th to 22nd. Attendees that have already purchased tickets will receive a refund.

The coronavirus spread is prompting educational organizations to suspend annual meetings everywhere.

“Given the continued concerns, we concluded that canceling the event was the responsible thing to do,” wrote Ed Zarecor, a manager at

The organizing team is now evaluating whether it is worth it to set up a virtual event.

The 2020 Open edX award will be granted, and submissions are open through April 17.

NVIDIA Issues a Free Certificate Course About AI Video Analytics on Its ‘Deep Learning Institute’ Platform

IBL News | New York

NVIDIA launched this month a free, eight-hour course about AI on Jetson Nano hosted on its Deep Learning Institute (DLI) platform.

This instructional ecosystem usually features certificate courses priced at $30 or $90, attracting hundreds of thousands of paid learners.

The “Getting Started with DeepStream for Video Analytics on Jetson Nano” course teaches “how AI-based video understanding can unlock insights, whether it’s recognizing a cat in your backyard or optimizing customers’ shopping experiences,” say the authors.

In this online course, learners will use JupyterLab notebooks on Jetson Nano to build projects that extract meaningful insights from video streams through deep learning video analytics.

Upon completion, students will be able to build a DeepStream application to identify and classify cars and count people in a crowded scene, while obtaining an NVIDIA certificate.

“It’s important that all developers, particularly young people and those from under-represented communities, have opportunities to learn about AI and contribute to, and benefit from, the AI ecosystem if they wish,” wrote Greg Estes, VP of Corporate Marketing and Developer Programs at NVIDIA.

[Disclosure: NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Institute is powered by IBL Education]




A Practical Course from MIT on edX Teaches How to Shape Your Future in the Age of AI

IBL News | New York

MIT released a practical, free, eight-week-long course that provides resources and tools to plan a career path in the age of increasing dominance of artificial intelligence.

The course, Shaping Work of the Future, is available through MITx on edX and may be accessed at any time of the year. So far, over 17,000 learners have enrolled in the class.

Participants are eligible to sign up and receive an MITx Certificate upon completion.

Now in its sixth year, Shaping Work of the Future, has added new content, such as case studies and lectures from MIT’s leading technology and workplace academics. This year’s partnerships include, among others, the World Economic Forum and the International Labor Organization.

“The course goes beyond the headlines and focuses instead on what steps we can actually take to impact the future of work along with future-proofing our own skillset,” said the authors.

The key to this year’s new content are findings from the initial report by the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future with a focus on how to improve the quality of jobs, reduce income inequality and provide opportunities for long-term career success for everyone in the labor force, a case study on Optimax Systems, Inc.’s innovative management philosophy built on three key pillars, and lastly, a discussion on the ways participants can bring their ideas to fruition around the creation of a new social contract.

Co-designers of the course includes Thomas Kochan, George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and the co-director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research, and Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future and the MIT Industrial Performance Center.

Kochan has contributed two new lectures on “High Road Business Practices” and “The Role of Government” to the curriculum. Meanwhile, Dr. Reynolds’s contributed lectures on “Geography of Work” and “Policy Recommendations from the Task Force.”

David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, added a new lecture on “Work of the Past: Work of the Future”.

“If we take the right actions, we can empower workers to build rewarding careers and shape the future of work in ways that meet the needs of individuals, families, economies, and societies,” said Prof. Kochan. “To do so, we first need to understand how work is changing, how firms can compete and prosper while still supporting good jobs, how to update the policies, institutions, and practices governing the world of work, and then outline a path for everyone to help build a new social contract. That’s what this course is all about!”

Session topics are:

Class 1: Challenges & Opportunities for Work: Today and Tomorrow

Class 2: The Past Century of Work

Class 3: How Emerging Technologies are Changing Work

Class 4: Rethinking Skills and Education

Class 5: The Role of Business in Shaping Work

Class 6: The Role of Labor in Shaping Work

Class 7: The Role of Civic Institutions and Government in Shaping Work

Class 8: Putting it all Together: Social Contract Phase 2 and Developing a Personal Impact Plan




Udemy Claims a Valuation of $2 Billion and Announces 5,000 Corporate Clients

IBL News | New York claimed a $2 billion valuation, while announcing an investment of $50 million from its long-time partner in Japan, Benesse Holdings.

“Udemy and Benesse are incredibly synergistic businesses. This investment is the next progression in our business relationship and demonstrates our confidence in what we can accomplish together,” said Tamotsu Adachi, CEO at Benesse Holdings. “The funding round follows a year of considerable growth for the Udemy globally,” explained Gregg Coccari, CEO at Udemy.

Founded in January 2009, Udemy is one of the largest marketplaces for learning and teaching online, with 50 million students, a catalog of 150,000 courses, and 57,000 instructors.

The San Francisco-headquartered company assures that it has issued over $350 million in lifetime payments to instructors, following its revenue-sharing model.

According to its own data, Udemy for Business – the subscription-based access to 4,000+ courses for corporations – reached the milestone of serving over 5,000 corporate customers globally, including Adidas,, Pinterest, Toyota, and Wipro, in 2019.

Last year also, it introduced Learning Paths, enabling organizations to build personalized experiences and achieve specific outcomes, such as employee onboarding and career development.

Unlike MOOC platforms like Coursera, edX, Udacity, and FutureLearn, that have partnered with universities and companies for content, Udemy allows anyone to create a course.

To date, Udemy has raised more than $200 million in venture capital. In addition to Benesse Holdings, Udemy has attracted investors such as Stripes, Insight Venture Partners, and Norwest Venture Partners. Provides an Overview of the Features of Its Open edX-Based Science Platform

IBL News | New York

edX provided this month with an overview of some of the technical features of, Harvard University’s and Amgen Foundation’s recently launched new science education platform. These include a tool called Blockstore, Content Libraries version 2, a new XBlock Runtime, anonymous access, and a new visual assessment editor.

Powered by Open edX open-source software and integrated with, the LabXchange platform uniquely allows users to freely combine assets together to create and share their own “learning pathways”, which contain videos, text, graphics, assessments, lab simulations, and other instructional assets. Much of the content focuses on the biological sciences.

“You can actually pick the ones you want, sequence them into a learning pathway, and create a much shorter experience that’s really tailored to exactly what you need to learn,” explained Professor Robert Lue, Harvard’s faculty director of LabXchange. “We aim to address some of the gaps with current virtual learning, such as the lack of flexibility in the course structure.”

The development of the platform and the program took two years. As a founding sponsor, the Amgen Foundation provided $11.5 million in grants. edX and European provider OpenCraft developed the code –partially available on GitHub.

According to the Open edX website, these are the six most prominent features:

  • Single Sign On. Users can use a single account to learn on both and, as the same LMS technology powers both sites.
    This was implemented using the auth-backends plugin, which allows any Django-based application to share user accounts with an Open edX instance.
  • XBlocks. Each piece of content on the LabXchange site, such as a video or interactive simulation, is an XBlock, just like each component of an edX or Open edX course. Most of the XBlocks used for LabXchange are identical to the versions used to build courses on, although many have a stylesheet applied to match the visual style of the LabXchange site. A few unique XBlocks are used for new content types unique to LabXchange, such as case studies or interactive simulations.
  • Blockstore. Blockstore is the next-generation content storage system for the Open edX platform, designed to replace the previous “modulestore” and “contentstore” systems that store data in MongoDB. Blockstore is versioned, scalable, format-agnostic, and file-based. That means that it provides a consistent foundation layer that can store video assets, XBlock definitions (OLX), metadata/tags, courses, and other things we haven’t yet thought of. Blockstore is designed to be able to hold terabytes of such data without losing performance. It’s also deliberately simple, creating a platform that developers can use to build experimental Open edX features and plugins much more easily than ever before.
  • Content Libraries v2, built using a new XBlock Runtime v2. This XBlock introduces the concept of “Learning Context” to the Open edX platform, where a learning context can be a course, a content library, a LabXchange pathway, a blog post, an admissions test, or any other virtual place where learning can happen. Using the LabXchange site, educators can search these content libraries to find content and assemble learning assets (XBlocks) into new learning pathways.
  • Anonymous Access – Users can use many features of LabXchange without needing to register an account, including viewing and interacting with learning assets (XBlocks).
  • Visual Assessment Editor. LabXchange uses a new visual UI and style editor for problems designed to simplify both learning and authoring. It will be available to all in a future version of Open edX Studio. (See the graphic below).


IBL News, January 24: Harvard and Amgen Announce, an Open Platform with Scientific Content

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