In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s — from by Sydney Johnson


These days, though, many MOOC platforms are courting the traditional higher-ed market they once rebuked, often by hosting fully-online masters degrees for colleges and universities. And today, one of the largest MOOC providers, Coursera, announced it’s going one step further in that direction, with its first fully online bachelor’s degree.

“We are realizing that the vast reach of MOOCs makes them a powerful gateway to degrees,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said in a statement.

The new degree will be a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of London. The entire program will cost between £9,600 and £17,000 (approximately $13,300 to $23,500), depending on a student’s geographic location. According to a spokesperson for Coursera, the program’s “cost is adjusted based on whether a student is in a developed or developing economy.”



From DSC:
At least a couple of questions come to mind here:

  • What might the future hold if the U.S. Department of Education / the Federal Government begins funding these types of alternatives to traditional higher education?
  • Will Coursera be successful here and begin adding more degrees? If so, a major game-changer could be on our doorsteps.




Top 10 IT Issues, 2018: The Remaking of Higher Education – from by Susan Grajek and the 2017–2018 Educause IT Issues Panel

2018 Top 10 IT Issues

  1. Information Security: Developing a risk-based security strategy that keeps pace with security threats and challenges
  2. Student Success: Managing the system implementations and integrations that support multiple student success initiatives
  3. Institution-wide IT Strategy: Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner of institutional leadership in achieving institutional missions
  4. Data-enabled Institutional Culture: Using BI and analytics to inform the broad conversation and answer big questions
  5. Student-centered Institution: Understanding and advancing technology’s role in defining the student experience on campus (from applicants to alumni)
  6. Higher Education Affordability: Balancing and rightsizing IT priorities and budget to support IT-enabled institutional efficiencies and innovations in the context of institutional funding realities
  7. IT Staffing and Organizational Models: Ensuring adequate staffing capacity and staff retention in the face of retirements, new sourcing models, growing external competition, rising salaries, and the demands of technology initiatives on both IT and non-IT staff
  8. (tie) Data Management and Governance: Implementing effective institutional data governance practices
  9. (tie) Digital Integrations: Ensuring system interoperability, scalability, and extensibility, as well as data integrity, standards, and governance, across multiple applications and platforms
  10. Change Leadership: Helping institutional constituents (including the IT staff) adapt to the increasing pace of technology change



Also see:

2018 Top 10 IT Issues — from


The Remaking of Higher Education
Higher education’s biggest concerns are converging with technology’s greatest capabilities. Evidence is mounting that digital technology is a major differentiator and a key to productivity and success within higher education. The 2018 Top 10 Issues reveal the broader strategic impact of technology on the entire institution.

IT organizations will be focusing on four areas this year:

  • Institutional adaptiveness
  • IT adaptiveness
  • Improved student outcomes
  • Improved decision-making

IT organizations won’t focus on these areas alone. Leaders from across campus are invested collaborators with IT. When information technology brings strategic value, the solutions and the technologies that power them are less important than the people, processes, and culture—which make all the difference in the 2018 Top 10 IT Issues.



Also see:

Strategic IT and the 2018 Top 10 IT Issues — from by John O’Brien
While those of us in campus IT organizations have long considered the topic of technology as a strategic asset, this year—the 20th anniversary of EDUCAUSE—may well mark a far broader realization of information technology as a strategic asset for higher education.


Still, the landscape and strategic placement of technology has changed. IT advances are constant, not occasional, and technology on campus is ubiquitous and enterprise-critical. Meanwhile, presidents, provosts, and boards — under considerable pressure to improve student success — appreciate that technology offers some of the brightest hopes for moving this hard-to-move needle. For this reason, among others, student success became the foundational focus of the 2017 Top 10 IT Issues. And the 2016 Top 10 IT Issues stressed the degree to which information technology is an institutional differentiator when it comes to not only student success but also affordability, teaching, and research excellence.

It’s one thing, of course, to ask ourselves about the strategic nature of information technology and quite another to find evidence that those outside the IT organization are experiencing this strategic sea change. Yet in recent months we’ve seen exactly that. One example is the American College President Study 2017, from the American Council on Education (ACE). Written by and for college and university presidents, the report advises presidents to attend fully to technology, especially “using analytics functions to make better decisions and leveraging technology to scale out quality, cost-effective best practices.”



From DSC:
I appreciate the following statement — and have often reflected upon its truth:

While those of us in campus IT organizations have long considered the topic of technology as a strategic asset, this year—the 20th anniversary of EDUCAUSE—may well mark a far broader realization of information technology as a strategic asset for higher education.


On a separate note…while obtaining and reviewing data / analytics certainly helps, often that isn’t enough.

Steve Jobs didn’t acquire data or do focus groups before introducing the Macintosh, nor before introducing the iPod, nor before introducing the iPad, nor before introducing the iPhone. But these devices literally changed the world.

Solid vision and innovation are what really count — they bring about the real game-changers.




From DSC:
DC: Will Amazon get into delivering education/degrees? Is is working on a next generation learning platform that could highly disrupt the world of higher education? Hmmm…time will tell.

But Amazon has a way of getting into entirely new industries. From its roots as an online bookseller, it has branched off into numerous other arenas. It has the infrastructure, talent, and the deep pockets to bring about the next generation learning platform that I’ve been tracking for years. It is only one of a handful of companies that could pull this type of endeavor off.

And now, we see articles like these:

Amazon Snags a Higher Ed Superstar — from by Doug Lederman
Candace Thille, a pioneer in the science of learning, takes a leave from Stanford to help the ambitious retailer better train its workers, with implications that could extend far beyond the company.


A major force in the higher education technology and learning space has quietly begun working with a major corporate force in — well, in almost everything else.

Candace Thille, a pioneer in learning science and open educational delivery, has taken a leave of absence from Stanford University for a position at Amazon, the massive (and getting bigger by the day) retailer.

Thille’s title, as confirmed by an Amazon spokeswoman: director of learning science and engineering. In that capacity, the spokeswoman said, Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon.”

No further details were forthcoming, and Thille herself said she was “taking time away” from Stanford to work on a project she was “not really at liberty to discuss.”


Amazon is quietly becoming its own university — from by Amy Wang


Jeff Bezos’ Amazon empire—which recently dabbled in home security, opened artificial intelligence-powered grocery stores, and started planning a second headquarters (and manufactured a vicious national competition out of it)—has not been idle in 2018.

The e-commerce/retail/food/books/cloud-computing/etc company made another move this week that, while nowhere near as flashy as the above efforts, tells of curious things to come. Amazon has hired Candace Thille, a leader in learning science, cognitive science, and open education at Stanford University, to be “director of learning science and engineering.” A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon”; Thille herself said she is “not really at liberty to discuss” her new project.

What could Amazon want with a higher education expert? The company already has footholds in the learning market, running several educational resource platforms. But Thille is famous specifically for her data-driven work, conducted at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, on nontraditional ways of learning, teaching, and training—all of which are perfect, perhaps even necessary, for the education of employees.


From DSC:
It could just be that Amazon is simply building its own corporate university and will stay focused on developing its own employees and its own corporate learning platform/offerings — and/or perhaps license their new platform to other corporations.

But from my perspective, Amazon continues to work on pieces of a powerful puzzle, one that could eventually involve providing learning experiences to lifelong learners:

  • Personal assistants
  • Voice recognition / Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • The development of “skills” at an incredible pace
  • Personalized recommendation engines
  • Cloud computing and more

If Alexa were to get integrated into a AI-based platform for personalized learning — one that features up-to-date recommendation engines that can identify and personalize/point out the relevant critical needs in the workplace for learners — better look out higher ed! Better look out if such a platform could interactively deliver (and assess) the bulk of the content that essentially does the heavy initial lifting of someone learning about a particular topic.

Amazon will be able to deliver a cloud-based platform, with cloud-based learner profiles and blockchain-based technologies, at a greatly reduced cost. Think about it. No physical footprints to build and maintain, no lawns to mow, no heating bills to pay, no coaches making $X million a year, etc.  AI-driven recommendations for digital playlists. Links to the most in demand jobs — accompanied by job descriptions, required skills & qualifications, and courses/modules to take in order to master those jobs.

Such a solution would still need professors, instructional designers, multimedia specialists, copyright experts, etc., but they’ll be able to deliver up-to-date content at greatly reduced costs. That’s my bet. And that’s why I now call this potential development The New of Higher Education.

[Microsoft — with their purchase of Linked In (who had previously
purchased — is
another such potential contender.]




From DSC:
The information below is from Phil Adams, Resource Coordinator for the Center for School, College, and Career Resources:

I’m working on a campaign to help students find the best info on the web on financial aid, scholarships, and FAFSA. I’ve recently found two resources that would be great for your student readers.  Some quick details on them:

The first is a comprehensive guide to financial aid. In addition to covering financial aid for online learning, it breaks down financial aid options for ALL college-level programs. It also includes financial aid and scholarship info for minority students, students with disabilities, students who identify as LGBTQ, and more. The guide features advice and tips from Mark Kantrowitz, a nationally-recognized expert on planning and paying for college. You can read the full guide here:  Financial aid for online college students



The second guide focuses on FAFSA and the changes that have taken place over the past few years. It was created with the support of Robert Friedman, the University Director of Student Finance at Yeshiva University New York, and includes advice on how to maximize financial aid with FASFA, a glossary of terms normally encountered during the financial aid process, and additional resources for students to explore. You can check it out here: Financial Aid and FAFSA guide






DC: The next generation learning platform will likely offer us such virtual reality-enabled learning experiences such as this “flight simulator for teachers.”

Virtual reality simulates classroom environment for aspiring teachers — from by Charles Anzalone, University at Buffalo

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Two University at Buffalo education researchers have teamed up to create an interactive classroom environment in which state-of-the-art virtual reality simulates difficult student behavior, a training method its designers compare to a “flight simulator for teachers.”

The new program, already earning endorsements from teachers and administrators in an inner-city Buffalo school, ties into State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher’s call for innovative teaching experiences and “immersive” clinical experiences and teacher preparation.

The training simulator Lamb compared to a teacher flight simulator uses an emerging computer technology known as virtual reality. Becoming more popular and accessible commercially, virtual reality immerses the subject in what Lamb calls “three-dimensional environments in such a way where that environment is continuous around them.” An important characteristic of the best virtual reality environments is a convincing and powerful representation of the imaginary setting.


Also related/see:


    TLE TeachLivE™ is a mixed-reality classroom with simulated students that provides teachers the opportunity to develop their pedagogical practice in a safe environment that doesn’t place real students at risk.  This lab is currently the only one in the country using a mixed reality environment to prepare or retrain pre-service and in-service teachers. The use of TLE TeachLivE™ Lab has also been instrumental in developing transition skills for students with significant disabilities, providing immediate feedback through bug-in-ear technology to pre-service teachers, developing discrete trial skills in pre-service and in-service teachers, and preparing teachers in the use of STEM-related instructional strategies.






This start-up uses virtual reality to get your kids excited about learning chemistry — from Lora Kolodny and Erin Black

  • MEL Science raised $2.2 million in venture funding to bring virtual reality chemistry lessons to schools in the U.S.
  • Eighty-two percent of science teachers surveyed in the U.S. believe virtual reality content can help their students master their subjects.


This start-up uses virtual reality to get your kids excited about learning chemistry from CNBC.



From DSC:
It will be interesting to see all the “places” we will be able to go and interact within — all from the comfort of our living rooms! Next generation simulators should be something else for teaching/learning & training-related purposes!!!

The next gen learning platform will likely offer such virtual reality-enabled learning experiences, along with voice recognition/translation services and a slew of other technologies — such as AI, blockchain*, chatbots, data mining/analytics, web-based learner profiles, an online-based marketplace supported by the work of learning-based free agents, and others — running in the background. All of these elements will work to offer us personalized, up-to-date learning experiences — helping each of us stay relevant in the marketplace as well as simply enabling us to enjoy learning about new things.

But the potentially disruptive piece of all of this is that this next generation learning platform could create an of what we now refer to as “higher education.”  It could just as easily serve as a platform for offering learning experiences for learners in K-12 as well as the corporate learning & development space.


I’m tracking these developments at:



The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV


*  Also see:

Blockchain, Bitcoin and the Tokenization of Learning — from by Sydney Johnson


In 2014, Kings College in New York became the first university in the U.S. to accept Bitcoin for tuition payments, a move that seemed more of a PR stunt than the start of some new movement. Much has changed since then, including the value of Bitcoin itself, which skyrocketed to more than $19,000 earlier this month, catapulting cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.

A handful of other universities (and even preschools) now accept Bitcoin for tuition, but that’s hardly the extent of how blockchains and tokens are weaving their way into education: Educators and edtech entrepreneurs are now testing out everything from issuing degrees on the blockchain to paying people in cryptocurrency for their teaching.





OER Adoptions on the Rise — from by Lindsay McKenzie
The number of faculty members choosing open educational resources over traditional textbooks has nearly doubled in the last year, but awareness over all remains low.


More and more instructors are choosing open educational resources over traditional textbooks, a survey of more than 2,700 faculty members reveals.

The “Opening the Textbook” survey, published by the Babson Survey Research Group today, reports that the number of faculty members at two- and four-year institutions using OER as textbooks has nearly doubled in the last year — from 5 percent in 2015-16 to 9 percent in 2016-17.

Awareness of OER — openly licensed and freely accessible teaching and learning materials — has also increased. Twenty-nine percent of faculty described themselves as “aware” or “very aware” of OER this year, up from 25 percent last year and 20 percent the year before. The proportion that reported they had never heard of OER fell from 66 percent in 2014-15 to 56 percent this year.

But while increases in adoption and awareness have been significant, Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group, points out that over all, awareness of OER is still low. He noted that many faculty members also continue to report significant barriers to wider adoption of OER, particularly finding and evaluating the quality of materials.



Also see:






A game to help students pay the right price for college — from by Ron Lieber


In the last big economic downturn, back when Tim Ranzetta was in the student loan analysis and consulting business and working with colleges, borrowers often found their way to him, too.

There would be tears. And he would get off the phone with the same frustration each time over how little the people who actually use them know about student loans.

Starting this week, he has a new tool in what has become a yearslong campaign to fill that gap: a free, interactive, web-based game called Payback. In playing, students see running totals of their debt but can also track academic focus, the connections they’re making that could be useful later and their overall happiness — crucial factors in actually finishing college and graduating with a job that can help them repay their debt.


Also see:





Google’s jobs AI service hits private beta, now works in 100 languages — from by Blair Hanley Frank


Google today announced the beta release of its Cloud Job Discovery service, which uses artificial intelligence to help customers connect job vacancies with the people who can fill them.

Formerly known as the Cloud Jobs API, the system is designed to take information about open positions and help job seekers take better advantage of it. For example, Cloud Job Discovery can take a plain language query and help translate that to the specific jargon employers use to describe their positions, something that can be hard for potential employees to navigate.

As part of this beta release, Google announced that Cloud Job Discovery is now designed to work with applicant-tracking systems and staffing agencies, in addition to job boards and career site providers like CareerBuilder.

It also now works in 100 languages. While the service is still primarily aimed at customers in the U.S., some of Google’s existing clients need support for multiple languages. In the future, the company plans to expand the Cloud Job Discovery service internationally, so investing in language support now makes sense going forward.


From DSC:
Now tie this type of job discovery feature into a next generation learning platform, helping people identify which skills they need to get jobs in their local area(s). Provide a list of courses/modules/RSS feeds to get them started. Allow folks to subscribe to constant streams of content and unsubscribe to them at any time as well.



We MUST move to lifelong, constant learning via means that are highly accessible, available 24×7, and extremely cost effective. Blockchain-based technologies will feed web-based learner profiles, which each of us will determine who can write to our learning profile and who can review it as well.



The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV






Addendum on 9/29/17:

  • Facebook partners with ZipRecruiter and more aggregators as it ramps up in jobs — from by Ingrid Lunden
    Facebook has made no secret of its wish to do more in the online recruitment market — encroaching on territory today dominated by LinkedIn, the leader in tapping social networking graphs to boost job-hunting. Today, Facebook is taking the next step in that process.
    Facebook will now integrate with ZipRecruiter — an aggregator that allows those looking to fill jobs to post ads to many traditional job boards, as well as sites like LinkedIn, Google and Twitter — to boost the number of job ads available on its platform targeting its 2 billion monthly active users.
    The move follows Facebook launching its first job ads earlier this year, and later appearing to be interested in augmenting that with more career-focused features, such as a platform to connect people looking for mentors with those looking to offer mentorship.




From DSC:
The article below caused me to reflect on the idea of using Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as a way for students to get through college these days. Although I appreciate that others are trying to help students get through college — an admirable goal for sure and one that I wholeheartedly share — I don’t like the means/method being proposed here. Why? Because I’m concerned that ISAs don’t offer any incentives for colleges and universities to lower their prices in the first place. The burden of debt is just spread out into the future. In fact, one could easily imagine the costs of obtaining a degree to continue to increase, because the immediate impact of the debt isn’t felt right now…it’s spread out over one’s future. The problem becomes invisible again, making it once again easy for those working within higher education to ignore.

So I hope this method doesn’t take off (as I understand it); instead, I hope that we can figure out better ways to reduce the price of obtaining a degree. Technology should be of use here.


Students Get Tuition Aid for a Piece of Their Future — from by Jillian Berman
Income share agreements seem poised to take off, as costs and debt loads rise


To help pay for ever-growing college costs, more students may soon be trying a new approach: selling rights to their future earnings.

Long discussed in college policy and financing circles, income share agreements, or ISAs, are poised to become more mainstream. A handful of backers currently exist that in effect have invested in college students’ futures by advancing them thousands of dollars in tuition money to bridge gaps in financing when student loans don’t quite meet all of their expenses.

Under the terms of a typical ISA, students agree to pay a percentage of their future earnings for a predetermined period in exchange for help up front with their tuition. Now, more students may have the opportunity to enter such deals, as lawmakers in Congress are working on possible ground rules for the agreements.





Under the Hood: Learning Design Behind Georgia Tech’s Degrees at Scale — from by Shabana Figueroa and Yakut Gazi


Rolling out the MM program in May and the degree program in August meant design coordination and creation of eight new online courses in less than a year. We needed a new approach that employed strategies for efficiency and effectiveness.

The Learning Design Team
GTPE’s learning design team partners with faculty members to develop their online courses from start to end, providing the heavy lifting for course production. A director of learning design oversees both the instructional design and production aspects of the course production across the entire program. This cross-functional team approach eliminates the silos created by independent instructional design and studio production teams, which in turn, minimizes hand-off points, decreases friction among teams, allows for long-term thinking that leads to smarter course design and development decisions, provides fluidity of talent and roles within the team, and fuels productivity.

…the paradigm shift to a learner-focused, team-based approach to course production and delivery, and collaboration of campus partners and groups…



From DSC:
Note the use of a team-based approach here. I think that the team-based approach will be the most beneficial to the world at large. Those teams will be able to deliver a high-quality learning experience, with high production values and carefully planned/crafted instructional designs. 


Also see:

Learning How to Learn: Anatomy of a good MOOC — from by Bill Ferster


Barbara Oakley’s MOOC, Learning How to Learn [2] is the exception to this trend. It is well-produced, informative, and fully embraces the new medium. With over 2 million registered students and completion rates of over 20% [3], (the average MOOC completion rate is 5%), Learning How to Learn is clearly resonating with its audience.

The question is why is it so popular? Intrigued, I enrolled the short MOOC to understand why it was so popular, and what lessons it might have for other MOOC authors to make their offerings more effective their “filmed plays.”

Oakley has clearly bucked the overall MOOC trend and has made good use of the inexpensive technologies with well-lit scenes that are clearly edited and make use of the green screen overlay technologies found in her Adobe Premiere video editor. She used a large teleprompter to ensure a fluid delivery of her message and high-quality audio.

Learning to Learn is effective because Oakley put a significant amount of effort making it effective. Good content, coupled with high production values, and sound pedagogy take time to produce and clearly pays off in the final product.




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