SEEK Australian Jobs Marketplace Acquires 50% of FutureLearn for $64M

The leading Australian employment marketplace SEEK continues its grandiose march into the education at scale industry, after a huge investment in Coursera last week.

FutureLearn, the fourth largest MOOC platform (after Coursera, edX, and Udacity) announced today, through its CEO Simon Nelson, that SEEK is taking 50 % of this educational portal for $64.6 million (£50 million).

“This is big news for us. SEEK adds experience and expertise in the employment sector, a good fit for the education sector as more people look for a return on the time and money they invest in learning,” stated Simon Nelson.

“We will still be offering access to courses for free but the investment means we can do more, more quickly. For example, we’ll continue to invest to ensure our platform remains extremely user-friendly and enjoyable to use on mobile, desktop and tablet. We’ll also remain focused on the courses we bring you so look out for more courses in terms of new subject areas, more degrees, and bite-sized stackable courses for learners keen to develop a particular skill for the workplace.”


• Press Release: The Open University secures £50M investment in social learning platform FutureLearn


“Finding a Positive Synergy between MIT’s MOOCs and Learning on Campus”

Chris Dowhan, Zoe Mackay | IBL News

Sheryl Barnes, Director of Digital Learning and Residential Education at MIT, shared with IBL News MIT’s extensive use of the edX platform following her talk at the Open edX conference.

MIT has a local version of the Open edX platform in addition to many MOOCs currently running on edX. Her task is “finding a positive synergy between the work that goes into developing the MOOCs and teaching on campus.” The content that is created for the MOOCs is easily repurposed for blended MIT classroom experiences, where instructors can utilize their video lectures and “repurpose the classroom time to do higher order thinking application, value added-type activities.”

99% of undergraduate MIT students have taken a class that utilizes the Open edX platform. The two major perks, as identified by Barnes, are the ability for instructors to create video lectures that are “the version they would like to give every time,” and using the self-graded problem types that allow instant feedback to students.

Barnes says that she is “excited about the teaching and learning folks in the community coming together.” While the Open edX conference has been steered toward the developer community in the past, the broadening to include these other sections of the online learning community has been beneficial for Barnes and her counterparts in education.

Watch Sheryl Barnes full interview with IBL News in the video below.



Ten Effective Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Online Course or Degree

By Mikel Amigot

Increasing enrollment in online programs and degrees is becoming progressively more complicated in 2019.

Based on our experience serving a number of schools and universities, these are our ten most effective marketing ideas:

  • Video advertisements on YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, and third party websites. Experts say that 65% of the population learns better by interacting with video rather than reading.


  • A mobile-friendly, quality-content and SEO-driven Website. Over 60% of all traffic comes from mobile devices. Around 93% of people use a search engine to begin navigation.


  • Content stories and Ads on Social Media. More than a billion people use these channels.


  • Google AdWords and banner advertisements in high traffic websites pointing to personalized, segmented landing web pages.


  • On-demand and interactive live lectures conducted by experts and top professors, along with a well-crafted email marketing strategy.


  • Testimonials and high-profile endorsements of the courses, programs, and degrees. This includes utilizing famous alumni.


  • Relevant blog posts, written by instructors, learners, and guests.


  • Promotional, rich in content articles, TV and radio reports, through a media-driven, non-stop PR campaign.


  • An iOS and Android app which includes all of the content functionalities and request-info features of the course, program or degree program.


  • Automated marketing strategy for some content on the website, linked to a CRM, such as Hubspot or Marketo. This allows gather important information on prospective students and utilize automatic follow-ups to remind them about your offers. Also, we suggest having a proactive call center strategy in order to ensure that prospective students speak with representatives and clarify their questions and ensure their investment in your program.


edX Will Invest Another $1.8M in Fostering Digital Bachelors’ Degrees

Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, decided to channel the funding received with Yidan Prize of $1.8 million to “reimagine undergraduate online education” and foster stackable credentials in this area.

That amount corresponds to 50% of the prize, which was granted at an award ceremony in Hong Kong, last December 10. Half of the $3.9M was in the form of a cash prize to the laureate (Mr. Agarwal), while the other was a project fund.

“In the next three to five years, we want to utilize the proceeds to truly reimagine the undergraduate degree. We want to see anybody anywhere in the world to get undergraduate plus education,” said Anant Agarwal during a conversation with Professor Larry Hedges, laureated also with the Yidan Prize, and Tom Blackwell, CEO at EM. [In the picture; also, see the video below].

Early this year, the edX organization started to analyze the viability of launching customizable digital bachelors’ degrees, as IBL News reported.

These credentials, registered with the name of “MicroBachelors”, could be priced at $10,000.

The MicroBachelors project, which started with a grant of $700,000 from the Lumina Foundation, mirrors MicroMasters’ successful initiative. The idea follows Anant Agarwal’s view of “education as a Lego.”

However, edX won’t be the first MOOC platform to launch a Bachelor’s degree. Coursera scored this achievement by releasing the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of London earlier this year.

EdX Will Participate in Cyber NYC, an Initiative Intended to Dominate Cybersecurity

edX Inc. will join the Cyber NYC initiative, a $30 million investment from the New York City Development Corporation (NYCEDC) designed to rapidly grow the city’s ecosystem and infrastructure for cybersecurity.

“The financial industry has been the lifeblood of this city for our entire history, and the costs of cybercrime are rising quickly,” explained James Patchett, CEO at NYCEDC to TechCrunch.  Currently, there are roughly 6,000 cybersecurity professionals employed in New York City. Through these programs, the number could increase by another 10,000, and a community for cyber professionals in New York City will be created.

Companies who have made commitments to the program include Facebook, Goldman Sachs, MasterCard, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and

The Cyber NYC program is made up of five new startup programs intended to dominate cybersecurity:

  • Partnering with Jerusalem Venture Partners, an accelerator called Hub.NYC will develop enterprise cybersecurity companies by connecting them with advisors and customers. The program will be hosted in a nearly 100,000 square ft building in SoHo.
  • The city will create a new, 15,000 square ft Global Cyber Center co-working facility in Chelsea, where talented individuals in the cyber industry will be able to hang out and learn from each other through event programming and meetups.
  • With Fullstack Academy and Laguardia Community College, a Cyber Boot Camp will be created to enhance the ability of local workers to find jobs in the cybersecurity space.
  • Through an “Applied Learning Initiative,” students will be able to earn a “CUNY-Facebook Master’s Degree” in Cybersecurity. The program has participation from the City University of New York, New York University, Columbia University, Cornell Tech, and iQ4.
  • With Columbia University’s Technology Ventures, NYCEDC will introduce a program called Inventors to Founders that will work to commercialize university research.

In terms of the educational initiative, the NYCEDC’s programs will allow students to take classes at any university in the five-member consortium, and transfer credits freely — a concept that the NYCEDC bills as “stackable certificates.”

Meanwhile, Facebook partnered with the City University of New York to create a professional Master’s degree program to train a new class of cybersecurity leaders. The idea is to provide a pathway to a widely-respected credential without having to take too much time off of work.


The 2018 Best edX Instructors

Who are the most engaging and innovative instructors in the community?

The edX University Advisory Board has selected the following ten, who represent a diverse range of disciplines – from computer science and business to literature, psychology or life sciences:

This November in Boston during the Global Forum, edX will select a winner the for 3rd annual Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning award.

With this award, “edX celebrates the contributions and innovations of MOOC teachers in the edX community, and amplifies the powerful role that MOOCs play in the transformation of education today,” said Nina Huntemann, Director of Academics and Research at edX.

In 2017, the winners were professors Andrew Howells and Bernadette Drabsch, from the University of Newcastle in Australia, for their course, Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101.

Podcast: Vermont Oxford Network (VON) Learning Platform In Depth

The Open edX software-based Vermont Oxford Network (VON), a nonprofit collective of multidisciplinary medical professionals founded in 1998, has developed a uniquely collaborative, evidence-based learning network among clinicians of over 1000 neonatal intensive care units and hospital nurseries around the world.

Denise Zayack and John McGregor, two of the VON’s program leaders, elaborated on their social and collaborative learning strategies, in a podcast–conversation with John Leh, a known independent educational consultant on his “Talented Learning Show”.

VON’s learning platform, which uses the Open edX technology [disclosure: deployed by IBL Education], allows neonatal healthcare clinicians to earn credit and work together to gain knowledge and develop a learning improvement project they’ll continually modify over time.

“We integrated different types of scaffolded learning to segment the content so they can focus on specific topics as work through a particular project and determine how they should best teach that to their users. So the learning experience has to be flexible, yet very targeted and segmented at the same time,” explained John McGregor.

The Talented Learning Show Podcast: How Does Social Learning Improve Infant Healthcare?


Op-Ed: Freshman Year Can Be Free Online For Anyone

[Originally published in The Baltimore Sun]

By James M. Murphy

The American system of higher education is unparalleled. Our public and private institutions — including many right here in Baltimore— offer world-class opportunities in the sciences, humanities and arts, and prepare students for vibrant intellectual and professional lives. However, the benefits of this system are unequally distributed. A college education is unaffordable for many Americans, and its traditionally residential nature creates barriers for adult and non-traditional students. In fact, students previously considered non-traditional are now the norm.

Celebrating its one-year anniversary this August, the philanthropy Modern States Education Alliance harnesses online education to shatter these economic and geographic obstacles. [Disclosure: IBL Education developed the Modern States Open edX platform and the courses]

Students of any age or economic background can utilize Modern States’ catalog of free online freshman-level college classes taught with state-of-the-art technology by professors from some of America’s most renowned universities including Johns Hopkins where I am a member of the math faculty. I teach four Modern States courses, each designed to help students pass a CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) exam offered through the College Board. A passing score on a CLEP exam translates to college credit at thousands of colleges and universities, including University of Maryland, Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Towson University, Community College of Baltimore County, Loyola University of Maryland, Mount Saint Mary’s University and many others in the Mid-Atlantic.

CLEP exams cost $87, substantially less than the thousands of dollars it costs to take an on-campus math class. Moreover, Modern States is paying the exam fee for the first 10,000 students to take a course and corresponding CLEP. These courses are compact, self-contained versions of typical introductory college math classes, and they allow students to refine and develop their skills in mathematics at no cost.

As with my on-campus classes, my Modern States classes begin with fundamentals, then follow the natural progression of the material as it would be taught in the classroom. I take the time to provide detail when working out problems, explaining the crucial steps that are imperative for learning. Providing clear insights is critical in the online format and ensures my contribution as the lecturer and architect for this course is far more valuable than a textbook alone.

My online students are diverse. Some are typical college-age and testing out of introductory courses as a means to make college more affordable. Many are working adults who need an online platform instead of the traditional residential experience. Others are returning veterans, looking to bring themselves up to speed in college mathematics before returning to campus. My Modern States courses democratize education by allowing any student to learn and grow as a student of mathematics, regardless of age, geography or financial means.

The Modern States online courses are not designed to replace the traditional American college experience but to complement it and increase its accessibility. By helping students move past remedial courses through online study and earn credit through the CLEP exam, my Modern States courses provide an on-ramp to college. I believe that online content can never replace the real, human interaction between teacher and pupil, especially in advanced courses and in mentorship. However, I also believe online courses can open the door to higher education for the millions of Americans who believe it is out of reach.

Education changes lives, and the educational opportunities in America are second to none. It is for this reason that new opportunities to democratize education should be seized with both hands.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. Go to All you need is an internet connection and the desire to learn.

James M. Murphy ( is a postdoctoral fellow within the Department of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University.

HarvardX Launches Three New CS50 Courses, with Prof. Malan as a Lead Instructor

HarvardX has created three new, free CS50 courses, which will start on July 1 at the portal: Web Programming with Python and JavaScript, Introduction to Game Development, and Mobile App Development with React Native.

These courses follow the success of “Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard”, better known as CS50, the largest course on Harvard campus and, with more than 1 million learners worldwide.

Particularly interesting is the 13-week course on React for mobile apps, a popular framework chosen by Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb and SoundCloud as their preferred choice for development.

Harvard University’s Professor David J. Malan, a star teaching online computer science, will be the lead instructor in the three courses. He is the author of the entire series of CS50, which now includes seven courses.

Jupyter-Based Courses in Open edX: Authoring and Grading with Notebooks

Prof. Lorena Barba, from GW, presented on May 30 at the Open edX Conference, along with Miguel Amigot II, CTO at IBL Education, two software extensions (XBlocks) to better integrate Jupyter into the Open edX platform:

  1. Jupyter Notebook Viewer XBlock—from any public Jupyter Notebook (e.g., in a public repo on GitHub), pull content into a course learning sequence using only the URL, and optional start and end marks (any string from the first cell to include, and the first cell to exclude).This allows course authors to develop their course content as Jupyter Notebooks, and to build learning sequences reusing that content, without duplication. It also has the added benefit that the development of the material can be hosted on a version-controlled repository. (Open edX, itself, doesn’t provide version control of course content.)[See IBL’s post about the XBlock, and the code repository—the XBlock is open source under a BSD3 license.]
  2. Graded Jupyter Notebook XBlock—create an assignment using the nbgrader Jupyter extension, then insert a graded sub-section in Open edX that will deliver this assignment (as a download), auto-grade the student’s uploaded solution, and record the student’s score in the gradebook.The XBlock instantiates a Docker container with all the required dependencies, runs nbgrader on the student-uploaded notebook, and displays immediate feedback to the student in the form of a score table.[See IBL’s post, and the code repository—the XBlock is open source under BSD3.]

Prof. Barba has been teaching with Jupyter for the last five years. Her first open teaching module using Jupyter was “CFD Python”, released in July 2013. In 2014, Barba developed and taught the first massive open online course (MOOC) at the George Washington University: “Practical Numerical Methods with Python.” The course was written entirely as Jupyter Notebooks, and it was self-hosted on a custom Open edX site (where it amassed more than 8000 users over 3 years).

Jupyter is a set of open-source tools for interactive and exploratory computing. At the center of them is the Jupyter Notebook, a document format for writing narratives that interleave multi-media content with executable code, using any of a set of available languages (of which Python is the most popular).

The work presented at the conference is the brainchild of Prof. Lorena Barba, implemented by her tech partners at IBL Education.