MOOCS Not Following a Revenue Model: GW Is Satisfied with Its Online Massive Courses

IBL News | New York

Not all schools have turned into the all-for-business MOOC-model. The George Washington University (GW), which hosts four MOOCs, still holds the belief that self-paced classes help disseminate knowledge at no cost.

In addition, officials at GW said the courses help their schools reach out to thousands of people from around the globe and make learning accessible beyond the GW community for students who can not attend classes full or part-time on-campus or online.

Ken Schappelle, Director of Marketing and Communications for the School of Nursing, said at GW’s The Hatchet“by the belief that all people deserve quality health care, we aspire to be trusted advocates for the advancement of societal well-being in the clinic, community, and statehouse.”

The School of Nursing offers two MOOCs, one on healthcare safety launched in May 2016 and one on clinical simulations launched in June.

These courses have attracted more than 10,000 enrollees from around the world, with especially “strong” representation from Europe and Asia.

MOOCs at The George Washington University started in 2014, with Dr. Lorena Barba, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

She established two semester-long MOOCs in computing and aerodynamics in 2014 and 2017.

More than 10,000 users have enrolled in her Practical Numerical Methods with Python course since its inception in 2014.

The course teaches users how to work with Python, an online programming language.

Barba has taken on the responsibility for creating, running and updating the existing courses, which are fully open at

“These are all a ‘one-woman show,’” she explained.

The Open edX Platform Prepares Its Upgrade into Python 3

IBL News | New York

The Open edX platform is immersed in a race against the clock to upgrade to Python 3, as Python 2 will be non-supported and deprecated at the end of 2019. Meaning, if someone finds a security problem in Python 2, it will not have the ability to be easily fixed.

The Python Software Foundation decided that January 1st of 2020 will be the day that it will sunset Python 2. Python 2 was released in 2000 and today there are improvements that Python 2 can’t handle.

A part of the upgrade of the Open edX platform corresponds to course authors. In this regard, the edX managing team has urged instructors who use Python Evaluated Input problems to immediately upgrade into Python 3.

Recently, edX outlined in this document how it plans to scope the problem, migrate the code and work with the Open edX community to “ensure that the process is as painless as possible, and meets the needs of our stakeholders.”

The Open edX software is considered a large project, spanning many applications and GitHub repositories, with even more dependencies on third-party libraries,

There are several libraries that will be upgraded, like lxml, matplotlib, networkx, numpy, pyparsing, scipy, sympy.

“Thanks to helping from the community, we’re making good progress,” Ned Batchelder, Open edX Software Architect said. “The Python test suite for our main repository now runs under both Python 2 and Python 3.”

Another porting effort ahead points to Django, the framework extensively used on Open edX web applications. The current version 1.11 of Django is coming to its end soon and there is a need to move to Django 2.2.

Once the platform runs on Python 3 and Django 2.2, the next Open edX release, called Juniper, will get started.


• OEP-7: Migrating to Python 3

Instructure Announces It Is Exploring to Sell the Company – Estimated to be Worth $2.5B

IBL News | New York

Instructure (NYSE: INST), the company behind Canvas LMS, publicly announced that it has begun to explore a number of strategic alternatives “to maximize shareholder value”, including a possible sale. Canvas owns about 38% of the LMS market.

“These alternatives may include continuing as a standalone public company, going private, or being purchased by a strategic partner,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Instructure’s board retained J.P. Morgan as its financial advisor and Cooley LLP as its legal advisor.

The move of the board took place in response to the pressure by activist investors Sachem Head, Praesidium Investment Management and more recently, Jana Partners, who disclosed it had a 1% stake. They called for Instructure to explore a sale, reportedly identifying multiple potential private equity buyers.

Kevin Oram, Praesidium’s Co-Founder and Managing Partner, said last week that selling Bridge –Instructure’s unprofitable employee development platform– would unlock the value of Canvas, which he estimated to be worth $2.5 billion.

Phil Hill, consultant and author of Phil on Ed Tech blog, wrote that competitor Blackboard went through a similar process a few years ago, going private in 2011. Blackboard considered a sale in 2015 but didn’t go through with it.

Instructure’s previously scheduled financial analyst day on December 3 was canceled “to allow management and the board to explore these strategic alternatives for the company,” said the Salt Lake City-based corporation.

The stock has gained significant value since activists hedge funds started to call for a sale, especially this week, when it moved from $47.91 on November 13 to $52.98 on November 15.



IBL News: News about Canvas LMS and Instructure

With Intel, Udacity Offers a Scholarship Program for Edge AI Development

IBL News | New York

Udacity announced yesterday in San Francisco the Intel Edge AI Scholarship Program and the Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers Nanodegree Program.

The pedagogical goal is to teach developers to accelerate the development and deployment of high-performance computer vision and deep learning solutions using Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit (which allows deploying pre-trained deep learning models.)

In the first phase of the scholarship program, students will get access to the Intel Edge AI Fundamentals course, the first class of the Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers Nanodegree program.

Students who successfully complete this course will earn a full scholarship to the Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers Nanodegree program. The number of seats is limited to 750 students.

“With Udacity, we are training the next generation of AI developers to go where the data is generated in the physical world: at the Edge,” said Jonathan Ballon Intel Vice President and General Manager, Internet of Things Group. “Optimizing the direct deployment of models on edge devices requires knowledge of unique constraints like power, network bandwidth & latency, varying compute architectures and more.”

The deadline to apply is December 1o.



Udacity’s Achievement with its Nanodegree Program: Over 100,000 Graduates

IBL News | New York

Udacity’s Nanodegree has revealed as the most promising credential in higher education at scale. Today, there are over 100,000 graduates in the Nanodegree program, sources told IBL News.

The Nanodegree online program currently includes five schools: Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Programming, Autonomous Systems, and Cloud Computing.

Conceived as an industry-oriented credential for career-seeking and job-ready students, Nanodegree was described by Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun as the new fourth degree, beyond the three common university degrees — the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD.”

Sebastian Thrun claims that his company, which has achieved the status of a unicorn of $1 billion, is on the way to becoming the “University of Silicon Valley” –although it’d be an unaccredited university.

“The Nanodegree program is well on its way to becoming a de-facto standard for hiring and corporate training in the tech industry,” he recently wrote.

However, Udacity’s newly appointed CEO, Gabriel Dalporto, a former manager at LendingTree, apparently contradicted the founder’s view, talking about the need to “get more clarity on our long-term vision and strategy” and more upcoming partnerships with other universities.

“I do believe that we will be partnering with universities because we can provide the specialization in a lot of areas that universities just aren’t prepared to teach,” he said in an interview at EdSurge last week.

“We’re a company that is going to help universities and governments around the world retrain the world’s workforce in an extremely cost-effective way.”

The New Face of MOOCs: Modular Credentials Stackable Into Degrees from Multiple Universities

IBL News | New York

“In the past, MOOCs were individual courses; today are sequences of courses that converge into micro-credentials like certificate or MicroMaster programs,” Anant Agarwal, Co-CEO at edX, said in an interview with IBL News during the Learning With MOOCs 2019 Conference, which took place last week in Milwaukee. [Watch the interview below]

Modular credentials that stack up into new degrees, offered by different higher education institutions, are an upcoming trend, according to Anant Agarwal. “This is the new face of MOOCs“.

“Multiple universities will supply modular credentials, and learners will be able to stack them up into full degrees; I see this as the next step“.

One early example is MicroMasters from MIT that is combined with courses from Arizona State University to become a Master’s degree.

Prior to the interview, Anant Agarwal highlighted on a keynote the importance of understanding that learners are the new stakeholders. He elaborated on the different types of learners. IBL exclusively recorded his talk:


An Influential Hedge Fund Pushes Instructure’s Canvas LMS to Sell Its Business

Mikel Amigot | IBL News

What’s next for Instructure (INST)?

That’s the question that comes to investors’ minds, especially after the third quarter performance report, which represented an earnings surprise of 42.11%.

Since the beginning of the year, Instructure shares have added about 15.8% versus the S&P 500’s gain of 20.6%, while the estimated revision trend for the company is mixed.

In this context, New York-based Sachem Head, which has been buying Instructure’s shares over time, announced yesterday that it wants Instructure to pursue a full sale processReuters disclosed. Now, the notorious hedge fund plans to push the Salt Lake City-based company in this direction.

The activist fund, that invests $3.2 billion on behalf of clients, recently called on Whitbread PLC to sell its Costa Coffee business before it was spun off to Coca-Cola Co. It also pushed Eagle Materials Inc to split its core businesses, before the company’s board agreed to spin off its heavy materials and light materials businesses into two publicly traded entities.

On the news of Sachem Head’s stake, Instructure’s stock prices jumped as much as 6% this week, ending at $46.52.

With a market capitalization of $1.8 billion, Instructure’s Canvas is the market leader in the LMS segment –and according to its own data continues to add customers.

However, its employee development platform Bridge is not working that well, failing to generate considerable market share, analysts think –and that’d be the reason why Instructure has underperformed the market so far this year.

In this regard, Instructure’s CEO Dan Goldsmith didn’t reject the idea of a sale or spinoff of Bridge, which launched in 2015.  “Nothing is off the table,” he told investors on the mentioned Q3 2019 earnings call on October 28. “But the focus for us is really making Bridge successful, making Bridge financially beneficial and accretive and healthy and then continuing to grow over time.”

Dan Goldsmith promised to provide more details at an analyst day on Dec. 3.



The EdX Organization Adopts a More Commercial Structure Appointing a New Co-CEO

Mikel Amigot | New York

The edX nonprofit organization, created by MIT and Harvard University, decided to adopt a more business and less academic-focused structure with two running CEOs.

According to the unexpected announcement made yesterday, Adam Medros, currently the COO and President, has been promoted to co-CEO, joining Anant Agarwal in this position.

In a way, the move follows Coursera’s aggressive commercial direction when it replaced Rick Levin, former President at Yale, for Jeff Maggioncalca as CEO. Maggioncalca was mainly hired to find a successful business model and IPO-ing the company.

Adam Medros, a business manager who moved from TripAdvisor to edX two years ago, with no previous experience in higher education, “will partner with Agarwal to drive the company’s continued growth and innovation, in service of its non-profit mission to increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere,” edX said.

Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor who has been teaching for 31 years said, “Adam’s dedication to the edX mission and his partnership have been invaluable to me in my role as Founder and CEO of edX and I look forward to further deepening our collaboration.”

The official announcement highlighted the new business orientation that the learning organization is following, “Agarwal and Medros will continue to work with the edX partner network, made up of the majority of top-ranked universities in the world and industry-leading companies, to deliver stackable learning experiences that help learners and employers alike address the future of work.”

In the last months, Adam Medros –who he stayed in TripAdvisor for 13 years– has been working in new business strategies to make edX a financially sustainable organization.

He provided his views in an interview with IBL News recorded in March.


Introduction to Java Programming Course Reaches 500K Enrollees

IBL News | New York

The Introduction to Java Programming free course on is about the set a milestone by reaching an enrollment of 500,000 people, IBL News learned. Today, in the course, there are over 497,000 enrolled from 210 countries. The course is developed in English and Spanish.

In conversation with IBL, Carlos Delgado-Kloos, Lead Professor in the class and VP of Digital Education at the University of Carlos III of Madrid, explained that he achieved that impact by implementing instructors’ team-work practices, using of LTI tools and adding pedagogical tips, among other techniques.

“Cloud computing is a ripe technology and MOOCs are the consequence,” he stated.

Carlos Delgado-Kloos, who was recently recognized with the Open Education Consortium award, elaborates on how MOOCs can empower learners in developing countries [see the interview below].


Over 1,000 Students Will Graduate from Georgia Tech’s Online Master in Computer Science

IBL News | New York

The recognizable OMSCS (Online Master of Science in Computer Science) from Georgia Tech continues its successful march.

“Right now we have over 9,000 students and so far over 2,400 graduated; over 1,000 graduating this year,” Zvi Galil, creator of the Master and former John P. Imlay, Jr. Dean of Computing and Professor told IBL News. “This number might reach 1,500 this academic year and might reach 2,000 in a year or two.”

OMSCS continues to be the largest master’s program in computer science in the nation.

Launched in January 2014 with 380 students, it meant to achieve from the beginning, “a revolutionary shift from the prevailing paradigm of higher education, in which a brand is bolstered by exclusion and high tuition fees,” Galil said. [In the picture above]

As it was conceived, the OMSCS keeps on tuition affordable – less than $7,000 for the full degree, payable by course, rather than $40,000 for a public on-campus program, or $70,000 or more in a private university.

OMSCS’ growth has been phenomenal, and its success has inspired similar programs at other universities. By 2019 spring term it offered a total of 30 courses in 4 specializations to 8,662 students.

Georgia Tech offers undergraduates the choice to enroll in an online version of an introductory computing courseIntroduction to Computing with Python on edX.