Video Talk: Zvi Galil Shared Insights on Georgia Tech’s Online CS Master’s

Georgia Tech’s online master’s degree in computer science –OMSCS for short– continues its successful path, with 6,365 enrolled at the start of the Spring 2018 semester.

This first-of-its-kind program, launched in January 2014, has attracted 10,178 unique enrollments since the launch. Zvi Galil, Dean of Georgia Institute of Technology, disclosed these data during his talk at the 2018 Open edX Conference in Montreal, Canada.

During his keynote, Mr. Galil shared lessons learned running the program which was described by Harvard University researchers as “the first rigorous evidence showing an online degree program can increase educational attainment”.

The program, priced at $6,600, has also paved the way for a number of similar, MOOC-based MS programs.

Zvi Galil’s talk described the OMSCS program, how it came about, its first four years, and what Georgia Tech has learned from the OMSCS experience.

Video of the talk.

NVIDIA Launches its Deep Learning Institute on the Open edX Platform to Train Engineers

The NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) launched this week during its annual GTC conference in San Jose, California, a deeply integrated, distributed and built-to-scale Open edX ecosystem with custom labs for certified instructor-led training and self-paced courses.

The first course, Fundamentals of Deep Learning for Computer Vision, was opened on Sunday 25 during an eight hour, face-to-face training session for three hundred learners who used the edX code-based platform for assessments, exercises and laboratories while interacting in the room with peers and teacher assistants.

NVIDIA engineer and educator Mike Mendelson taught, along with two dozen assistants, this hands-on workshop, developed with the goal of providing the basics of deep learning by training and deploying neural networks.

A second course, Fundamentals of Accelerated Computing with CUDA C/C++, was also offered during the same day. Students learned, practiced and got certified on CUDA’s tools and techniques to accelerate CPU-only applications to run on massively parallel GPUs.

This uniquely blended model was praised by participants, mostly engineers, as a highly effective and engaging method of training. NVIDIA partnered with IBL Education to develop, scale and maintain the platform.

The two courses remained open as part of NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Institute’s catalog. In the following weeks, it will be enhanced with video lectures and other learning resources for tens of courses.

The Deep Learning Institute (DLI) currently offers hands-on training in deep learning and accelerated computing self-paced courses and instructor-led workshops designed to solve real-world problems.

DLI provides learners with a fully configured, GPU-accelerated workstation in the cloud, complete with software tools, neural networks, and datasets.

Update from our CTO, Miguel Amigot, one week after its release:

December 2017 Newsletter on Learning Innovation


• Oracle will open in early January a $43 million building that will house an innovative, free public high school with 550 students, the sleek Design Tech High School, known as d.teach. “Nobody has done anything like this before,” said Colleen Cassity, the executive director of the Oracle Education Foundation.

• Cengage Learning has joined the open educational resources (OER) movement and announced OpenNow, a suite of digital products for general education courses. Fees start at $25 per student per course, a price point in line with Lumen Learning, which has also developed proprietary OER courseware. Available courses now include psychology, American government and sociology.

• Most higher education CIOs say their organizations’ business models will change as a result of the digital transformation. Top tech areas for new spending will include cybersecurity, ERP, Analytics, ERP, CRM, LMS, digital marketing and cloud services.

Saint Michael’s College, a private institution in Vermont, has created new “pop-up”, short-term courses about timely issues not accommodated in the traditional curriculum and offered for 0-1 credits, pass or fail. Other institutions are implementing the pop-up approach, including Bennington College (VT) and Stanford University (CA).

• Cornell Tech, a graduate school at Cornell University, inaugurated the Tata Innovation Center, after this IT services firm contributed $50 million to help the school invest in technology research and expand K-12 digital literacy programs in New York City.

Noodle Partners, one of the newer players to step into the online program manager (OPM) space, got a boost attracting $14 million in funding. Its CEO John Katzman started 2U, one of the companies, along with Academic Partnerships, Bisk, Pearson Embanet and Wiley Education Services that today control half of the OPM market, which is estimated at around $1.1 billion. Noodle Partners has signed on nearly a dozen universities like American, Tulane and New York University.

Forbes has made a list of young entrepreneurs with its list of 2018 “30 Under 30”. There is a lot of innovation on what they are doing.

VitalSource, dedicated to offering tools to create digital courses and materials, has acquired the corporate LMS Intrepid Learning, which claims to serve 20 million users globally.

View this newsletter on the web

The Learning Times monthly newsletter is a topic-curated email report compiled by Michael Amigot, Founder at IBL Education, a company specialized in Open edX technology and course production. If you enjoy what you read please consider forwarding it. Click here to subscribe.

The Learning Times Newsletter #3 – November 2017
The Learning Times Newsletter #2 – October 2017
The Learning Times Newsletter #1 – September 2017


A Reviewed Course to Learn the Fundamentals of Creating edX Courses

edX’s training team has launched a new version of its StudioX course, intended to teach the fundamentals of creating courses on the edX platform.

“StudioX: Creating a Course with edX Studio” introduces to Studio, edX’s course-authoring tool, and is ideal for course authors and course teams interested in successfully creating a course and provide students a great experience.

Through activities and hands-on learning, this 4-week course walks the learner through the course development process directly in Studio.

In addition, edX has launched the version 2.11 of the edX mobile app for Android and iOS. This release includes some interesting improvements, such as information about video size, assignment due dates and initial support for Spanish.

'Online Learning Design Is Now a Refined Art'

“Online learning design is now a refined art, and universities must show they can produce high-quality courses at a reasonable cost,” writes in Times of Higher Education Geoff Webster, Managing Director at CEG Digital, the blended learning division of Cambridge Education Group.

  • “To deliver the level of quality that both students and academics expect, and is provided by leading online programmes today, universities must be willing to invest substantial resources in development.”
  • Blended learning has a higher rate of student satisfaction, outcomes and retention, but requires institutional capability and flexibility to deliver a high-quality face-to-face experience within the context of an online learning programme.
  • Coming technological advances, such as adaptive content provision and virtual and augmented experiences will have their place in certain subject areas, but will add their own development and delivery overheads. As an institution invests in online, focusing in-house IT departments on what may start out as a small number of students can be a real challenge. 
  • Fortunately the twin engines of growth – domestic and international demand – should provide a sufficient body of students, with a breadth of subjects, levels and entry requirements.
  • The key strategic questions are: how quickly can an institution get to market, can it produce and deliver programmes of the right quality and with the right cost base, and are these investments sustainable in the long term? Student expectations, learning design, delivery modes, technology choices and recruitment should be top of mind for vice-chancellors. 



Google Will Donate $1 Billion to Education and Professional Training Non Profits

Google will commit $1 billion over the next five years to nonprofits in education and professional training through its charitable arm,

CEO Sundar Pichai announced a new program at an event this week in Pittsburgh, PAGrow with Googleaimed at training American workers for high-tech jobs and helping build businesses.

“At Google, our mission is to make sure that information serves everyone, not just a few,” Pichai explained in the address. “A child in a school here in Pittsburgh can access the same information on Google as a professor at Carnegie Mellon. In the end, the internet is a powerful equalizer, capable of propelling new ideas and people forward.”

Grow With Google will create an online destination for job seekers to get training and professional certificates and for businesses to improve their web services.

Google said it was donating $10 million to Goodwill Industries, for example, for digital job training programs. Company employees also will volunteer one million hours at those nonprofits.


According to The New York Times, much like a political campaign, Google will go on the road to spread the message about its new program, it said. In the coming months, company officials will make stops in Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; Lansing, Mich.; and Savannah, Ga.

Google is not the only big tech company that has gone on a charm offensive in recent months. Under fire from President Trump for producing most of its devices in China, Apple announced in May that it was creating a $1 billion fund to invest in advanced manufacturing in the United States. Amazon, another frequent target of Mr. Trump, said in January that it was planning to hire 100,000 new employees over the next 18 months.

Spain's 2017 Open edX Meetup Will Take Place This Thursday, October 5

The third Open edX Meetup in Spain – the 2017 edition – will take place this Thursday, October 5 in Madrid. The event, scheduled at 7pm, is free and open to anyone interested in education technology and pedagogy. There is a limit of attendance to 120 people.

The two speakers will be Michael Amigot, Founder at IBL Studios & IBL Open edX in New York, and Javier Calvo, CEO at Campus FP, a leading vocational training organization in Spain and a recent Open edX adopter.

Local leaders in education at the university, industry and government level will attend the event with the goal of sharing knowledge and networking with attendants.

Talks, in Spanish, will be recorded and live streamed. A Spanish wine will be served at the end of the event.

All of the details are featured in the official page of this meetup.

Spain’s Open edX community has attracted so far 350 members. The main Open edX projects in Spain have been presented in these meetups.

UPDATE: Here is the video stream of the event

Juilliard Releases Six Free Open Courses For Musicians and Music Lovers

The Juilliard School has just joined the edX consortium, and, as a result, launched on Sept. 26 six new, free MOOCs intended for musicians and music lovers.

  • Discovering the Instruments of the Orchestra, with Dr. L. Michael Griffel. Learn to listen more deeply to classical music by discovering the four families of instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.This course helps students learn to hear and appreciate the nuances of each instrument in the orchestra, enabling them to listen more deeply to classical music.Dr. Griffel, chair of Juilliard’s Music History Department, and eight Juilliard faculty and alumni take students on a journey into the orchestra and introduces the history of its principal instruments.
  • Perform at Your Best: Foundations of Performance Psychology, with Dr. Noa Kageyama: Learn performance psychology fundamentals to help you overcome anxiety and perform at your best under pressure.Dr. Kageyama’s performance psychology classes are a favorite among Juilliard music students.This course combines applied exercises, insights gleaned from interviews with renowned performers, and research in performance psychology and motor learning.
  • Piano Preludes: Bach, Chopin, and Debussy, with Dr. Michael Shinn. Improve your piano skills by learning to play three famous preludes from Bach, Chopin, and Debussy.The course features instructional lessons, downloadable scores and performances by Juilliard students, and covers piano preludes from the Baroque, Romantic, and Impressionist eras composed by Bach, Chopin, and Debussy.
  • How to Listen to Great Music for Orchestra, with Dr. L. Michael Griffel. Learn how to listen to five important orchestral works that span styles and genres and are composed by Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, R. Strauss, and Bartók.Students who sign up for the Verified Certificate gain exclusive access to full HD performances and artists interviews featuring the Berliner Philharmoniker, as well as listening guides for each of the five works.
  • Music Theory 101, with Dr. Steven Laitz. Learn the fundamentals of music theory in an engaging and straightforward approach, and develop the music theory knowledge you need to become better players, superior listeners, and feel more confident writing for any musical genre.
  • Sharpen Your Piano Artistry, with Dr. Michael Shinn. Improve your technique and overall piano playing by learning to play two classical pieces from a curated list of 19 advanced beginner and intermediate level pieces by Beethoven, Mozart, Clementi, and others.Students have access to downloadable scores, performances by Juilliard students and alumni, instructional videos, warm-up guides, and expert insights from a variety of Juilliard faculty.


"Self-Driving" Signature Course at Udacity Attracts 10K Students has attracted 53,000 students to its Nanodegree program, with 18,000 graduates, doubling this way their revenues and multiplying by four the number of enrollments, according to Class Central.

The Self-Driving Nanodegree has enrolled 10,000 students and received 43,000 applications. The first cohort has not yet graduated, but 60 students have already found jobs at companies like BMW, Lockheed Martin, NIO, Volvo, and Amazon Robotics.

As Sebastian Thrun says, “this program has already educated more self-driving car engineers than all universities combined.”

Udacity, one of the three top learning platforms along with Coursera and edX, has nine million learners enrolled across its free and paid courses.

English Preparation Course at Gets Half a Million Enrollments

The edX IELTS Academic Test Preparation course, developed by The University of Queensland in Australia, has hit a 500,000 enrollment milestone, according to this institution.

The course, launched in 2015, averages about 1,000 enrollments per day. It incorporates 80 hours of materials presented through various activity types and online tools, and includes built-in comprehensive and corrective feedback.

“With this course, we have been able to translate 35 years of experience and expertise in teaching classroom English into a free innovative online learning platform,” said director Julian Wilson.

“IELTSx has brought high-quality IELTS preparation training to communities where there is low-quality English language teaching, or where there is no English language teaching at all,” he added.