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, Google.org.

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

Udacity.com 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 edX.org 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.


Flipped Learning Solves a Basic Structural Problem of Traditional Teaching, Says Prof. Robert Talbert

Flipped learning goes beyond innovation. It is a necessity to reach students who struggle with the traditional model based on learning in class.

“The more difficult work happens in individual papers, projects and homework outside of class, where access to help is much more limited. And while professors may still be available outside of class via office hours or other modes of contact, only traditionally “good” students tend to seek out those resources,” said Professor Robert Talbert during a recent workshop at The George Washington University.

“We set students up for failure in some ways,” said Dr. Talbert, a math professor at ‎Grand Valley State University. “They’re encountering the most difficult material at the moment when they’re most alone…and on the flip side we’re giving them the simplest stuff when we’re most accessible.”

In a “flipped” model, by contrast, students’ initial contact with material takes place before class, freeing up classroom time for active learning. The “classroom” may also be virtual, as in an online course. Students might watch a videotaped lecture, read a guide to the material and complete worksheets before any teacher introduces them.

Preliminary studies suggest impressive results, like increased student engagement and improved pass rates, in classes that flip their curriculum.

“Flipping” is a response to a basic structural problem of traditional teaching models, in which students generally do the easiest work—learning vocabulary, new ideas and basic principles—in class, where they have the most access to help from peers and teachers.

In general, the flipped model is a win-win for students and teachers, Dr. Talbert said. “Students will prepare if they’re given an activity that makes it worth their while,” he said. “And we should only give assignments that we want to grade.”

“I firmly believe that higher education has the power to transform everything and everybody it touches for good—but I feel that higher education today isn’t living up to its potential,” he said. “So making simple changes will do a lot of work to get higher education back to its roots.”

The Learning with MOOCs 2017 Conference Analyzes the Shift Into Professional Development Courses

The Fourth LWMOOC Conference, to be held October 8-10 at The University of Texas at Austin, has established as a theme “Developing and Advancing Careers with MOOCs”

“Though initial visions of MOOCs as free learning resources for the masses have not yet been the reality, millions of learners around the world are using MOOCs to support professional development and career advancement,” have noted the organizers of the conference.

“This activity represents an important shift from the top-down model of university degrees to a learner-generated, micro-credentialing “bottom-up” model.”


The New edX iOS and Android Version Includes Video Improvements

EdX has released a new version of its app for Android and iOS, 2.10, with video-enhanced features (after all edX’s app is mostly a video companion tool). This app is available for both edX.org and Open edX independent sites’ learners.

The main two new features empower learners to access all course videos in one place as well as delete downloaded clips (with a left swipe in iOS or a long press in Android).

Upcoming versions of the mobile app will have tablet support, and will automatically open in Spanish mode if a learner’s mobile phone is set to use Spanish.

Another interesting improvement at edX.org courses refers to learner profiles. Now they include the date a student joined edX and links to social media accounts. Soon, any certificate earned will be visible on their profiles.