A Leading Publishing House Launches Online Courses


Simon & Schuster will sell online courses taught by popular authors specialized on health, finance and self-help. Pricing will range from $25 to $85. The company will share revenues from the courses with authors.

Courses will be available on the authors’ websites and on the company’s new site, SimonSays.com, and will include workbooks, videos by entertainers and experts and access to live question-and-answer sessions.

Initially, there will be three authors with established, dedicated fan bases: Dr. David B. Agus, the best-selling author of “The End of Illness” (this is the course on his site); Zhena Muzyka, who wrote the self-help book “Life by the Cup” (course page); and Tosha Silver, the author of the spiritual advice book “Outrageous Openness” (course page). The publishing company will release 12 to 15 courses this year. These are the first ones:


The NYT reports about this initiative.

Daphe Koller: MOOCs Prove to Be an Effective Way to Close the Skills Gap

Did MOOCs undermined or even replaced the traditional college education?

On the contrary: they have offered an effective way to close the skills gap.

Daphne Koller, cofounder and president of Coursera, shares her view in the MIT Technology Review magazine:

  • Only 15 percent of Coursera’s learners [this company has 10 million enrolled students] are college age. The other 85 percent are adults looking to expand their horizons and working adults working to build critical jobs skills for a better career. Many the skills they seek –data science, mobile apps, digital marketing– didn’t event exist a decade ago.
  •  To complete a MOOC is a measure that brings tangible benefits, including new jobs, new responsibilities, and promotions.
  • A four-year degree is no longer sufficient for a lifelong career. MOOCs can be an important component to better suit the learning needs of the 21st century.

EdX Is A Major Disruption In An Industry With Almost No Change In Two Thousand Years, Says Eric Grimson (MIT)


(By Michael Amigot)

No doubt, a revolution is happening is higher education thanks to the edX technology and pedagogy.

I recently attended a conference in Madrid, Spain, by Eric Grimson, former MIT Chancellor and one of edX’s top pedagogy experts in the world –he has created three successful MOOCs on edX.

He explained how a 2,000 year-old industry is being disrupted today. There have been two major disruptions: the printing press in 1568 and the blackboard in 1801. And we are living the third one: the one that comes from digital tools and particularly from edX.

The conference is magnificent to understand why the edX technology is so unique.

Professor Andrés Pedreño, a leading pedagogist and entrepreneur in Spain, followed Grimson’s speech with a keynote address worth watching.

All is in this video.


The First Open edX Conference Was a Blast: Watch the Videos!

edx conference

The first Open edX conference in Cambridge, MA, brought together around 250 specialists on the edX technology and pedagogy.

Great keynotes speeches, breakout sessions, networking, a hackathon and social events. As our friend Ramón Talavera explained in his blog, “this conference was a blast”.

Many presentations were live streamed –and here are the videos–. Tweets can be found at #openedxcon and @OpenedX.

Below is an image with many of the Open edX projects. We, at IBL Studios Education, presented three platforms during the Demo Table sessions: ING Open edX (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), ISEADX Business School and LECTYA – FGSR. In addition, we demoed the first Open Badges XBlock developed by our engineering team.



The First Open edX Badge Solution Will Be Presented in Harvard


An innovative Open edX extension that integrates digital badges into MOOCs will be presented this Wednesday on Harvard University’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the first Open edX conference.

It will be an XBlock developed by IBL Studios Education and George Washington University (GWU), with the support of University of Indiana, edX and Achievery.com.

GWU’s Professor Lorena Barba, who provided a conceptual design and iterative refinements for this app, has prepared a set of slides explaining the development.

The badge solution will work initially with the Achievery.com badge hosting service. This Rhode Island-based company has developed an API that IBL’s engineering team has integrated into a Python client and connected to the Open edX platform.

The first institution to integrate this solution will be George Washington University through its Open edX platform.

Students of the “Practical Numerical Methods with Python” course will be the first ones benefiting from the IBL Open Badge XBlock. Their achievements will be recognized through badges that will be automatically issued when their grading scores on each lesson surpass 50 percent or any other percentage set by the instructor.

Coursera Receives $1 Million Per Month in Revenues From Verified Certificates


Coursera, the leading education platform that in less than three years has reached 10 million students and raised $85 million in venture capital, is being successful with its “Signature Track” service –which securely links coursework to real identities via verified certificates priced between $30 and $100.

  • Around 70 % of the upcoming courses have this option enabled.
  • “Verified Certificate” is becoming the only option for acknowledgement of course completion, despite protests by many students.
  • At present Coursera is receiving more than $1 million per month in revenues from verified certificates.

(edSurge recently wrote an interesting report titled How Does Coursera Make Money)

Private Discussion Cohorts on Open edX

The newest version of the edX platform –the October 7th release– introduces private discussion cohorts. This feature allows to create smaller communities of students who communicate and share experiences privately within the larger, course-wide community.

In addition, the CSV file that contains student profile data includes a Cohort column (as long as the cohorts feature is enabled).

Another announcement came from the Engineering blog. The edX-specific version of eXtensible Markup Language (XML) used to format content has been renamed Open Learning XML (OLX), while an alpha version of documentation has been issued.

Is Open Online Learning The Future of Education? Watch The Brightest Minds' Analysis

One of the revealing conclusions of the Learning With MOOCs conference -celebrated last week in Cambridge, Mass., with participants from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Goole, the Gates Foundation and Kaplan– is that MOOCs and open virtual courses are part of the much larger trend towards open online learning, regardless of the success or failure of existing providers such as Coursera, edX or Udacity.

What open online learning and teaching –and open should not be confused with free– will look like in 2020 is unpredictable. But one thing is for sure: many of the brightest educators in the planet are committed to create this future together, as it was shown in the conference.

Here is the complete program with all of the recorded keynotes and roundtables –over thirty videos to watch!

For us one of the most interesting sessions was this one: How MOOC Platforms Enable Learning. Panelists included Anant Agarwal (edX), Vivek Goel (Coursera), Melissa Loble (Canvas), and Mark Lester (FutureLearn). The moderator was Diana Oblinger (EDUCAUSE).