Teachers Worldwide Find Creative Solutions to Avoid Education Disruption Due to COVID

IBL News | New York

The education of over 90% of the world’s enrolled student population–nearly 1.6 billion learners–continues to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments. For six months now, teachers around the world have been finding creative approaches to face school closures, adapting and improvising to keep their students learning.

There are many inspiring stories on how teachers kept doing their job throught the crisis. They remind us that teachers are a vital lifeline for their students.

Some teachers travelled for hours each day to establish small learning groups around a laptop, others walked door to door to distribute thousands of much-needed school meals during the lockdown, yet others delivered their classes from the back of a truck.

“This crisis has created an unprecedented context that has brought to the fore teacher leadership, creativity and innovation,” said a recent report by UNESCO.

“In the majority of cases, teachers were forced to act without much warning and with little time to prepare. Curriculums were modified or condensed, lesson plans adapted, working methods turned on their heads. But, whether via the internet, mobile phone, television, radio broadcast or the mail, teachers continued to provide an education to their students.”

In countries with poor connectivity, where over 40% households do not have a computer or online access, many teachers have prepared take-home packager for their students, along with digital communities and support groups on Facebook and Twitter.

In order to celebrate teachers’ leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, UNESCO plans to celebrate their work on October 5th, with World Teachers’ Day, on the anniversary of the signature of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

The organization has released an event’s website.

Open edX & Learning Platforms | September – October 2020: NVIDIA, UT Austin, Arm, Coursera, Udacity…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]

SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2020 – NEWSLETTER #31  |  Breaking news at IBL News  |  Noticias en Español


edX | Open edX

• An edX Report Features Key Skills and Opportunities for the “New Normal” in Business

• NVIDIA Issues New Courses on Deep Learning and Recommender Systems

• UT Austin Launches a Master’s Degree in Computer Science that It Doesn’t Require GRE

• The University of Cambridge Offers a 30-Credit Program on ‘Writing for Performance’ on edX

• Arm Offers a Free Course on Embedded Systems and IoT Devices at edX.org



• Coursera Reports a Surge of 21 Million Learners Since Mid-March

• Two New Entry-Level Certificate Programs on Sales Development and Data Analytics from Salesforce and IBM

• Coursera Issues a Certificate Program on “Facebook Social Media Marketing” for Non-College Graduates

• Coursera Expands in Latin American by Adding Three New University Partners

• Coursera.org Will Allow Its Employees to Work from Home until January 2022

• Coursera Expands Its Learning Products, Including Guided Projects, Paths, and Live Meetings



• Udacity Will Award 1,000 Program Scholarships to the Black Community


Learning Platforms

• A Startup Company Raises $16M for User Interface that Adds LMS Capabilities to Zoom

• OpenStax Will Increase Its Library to 90 Free Textbooks After Receiving New Grants

• Lambda School Raises $74 Million with Its ‘Pay Tuition Later’ Model

• Canvas LMS Will Provide Its Learning Platform to 13 U.S. States


2020 Events 

• Education Calendar  –  SEP  |  OCT  |  NOV  |  DEC  |  Conferences in Latin America & Spain


This newsletter is created in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company specialized in AI and credential-driven learning platforms. Read the latest IBL Newsletter   |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

Online Learning | September – October 2020: Conferences, Universities’ News, Rankings, COVID’s Impact…

Newsletter format  |  Click here to subscribe ]

SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2020  –  NEWSLETTER #37  |  Breaking news at IBL News  |  Noticias en Español



• SXSW EDU Announces that Its 2021 Conference Will Continue to Be Virtual

2020 LWMOOCs Conference: How MOOCs Are Reshaping the 4th Industrial Revolution



• The University of Arizona Will Provide WeWork Spaces to International Students

• ASU Announces a Major Research Laboratory on Environmental Sustainability

Laureate Sells Walden University to Adtalem for $1.48 Billion in Cash


COVID-19 and Universities

• 70% of College Students Are Falling Behind on Their Studies Due to COVID-19

• California State University’s Campuses Will Continue Virtually During the Spring Semester of 2021

• The University of Illinois Had a Comprehensive Anti-Virus Plan, but Students Partied On

• SUNY Oneonta Closed After Many Students Were Infected at Large Parties

• President Trump Pushes Universities to Reopen Despite a Spike of Virus Infections

• More Colleges Expected to Follow UNC’s Switch to Remote Learning Amid a Surge of COVID Cases



• U.S. News & World Report 2021 Colleges Rankings: No Changes Despite Tweaks

• Eleven Public Universities Featured in the Top 20, According to the ‘Washington Monthly” Alternative Ranking



• The LMS Market Will Grow From $13.4 Billion in 2020 to $25.7 Billion by 2025

• Pearson Ends Its Search for a New CEO by Naming an Ex-Walt Disney Executive for the Role

• Facebook Returns to Its Roots by Launching a Campus-Only Social Network


Venture Capital

• ETS Announces Its Investment Arm to Acquire EdTech Companies and Expands Its Offering to Clients

• Lockdown effect: Indian Start-Up Byju Company Valued at $10.8 after Raising $21 Billion

• Online Learning Boom in India: Start-Ups Raising Huge Amounts of Capital



• Analysis: UX / UI Will Determine the Success or Failure of Your Next Web Project


2020 Events 

• Education Calendar  –  SEP  |  OCT  |  NOV  |  DEC  |  Conferences in Latin America & Spain


This newsletter is created in collaboration with IBL Education, a New York City-based company specialized in AI and credential-driven learning platforms. Read the latest IBL Newsletter   |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

The University of Arizona Will Provide WeWork Spaces to International Students

IBL News | New York

The University of Arizona (UA) will provide to its international students with 490 WeWork workspaces in 80 cities of 37 nations, allowing them to continue remotely their U.S. degree from their home country.

Robert C. Robbins, President at the University of Arizona, explained that the institution reached an agreement with WeWork to support international students who are not able to attend the main campus in Arizona.

This way, learners will have access to Wi-Fi and study spaces to work from during the pandemic.

Also, according to the university, the WeWork network includes thousands of startups and large enterprises, which will give UA students opportunities to network and collaborate with working professionals.

“As universities have increasingly – and of necessity – shifted to online modalities, we recognize the need to create new and innovative access points for international students and professionals to start or continue their graduate and undergraduate studies,” Stephanie Adamson, the University’s Assistant Dean of Global Admissions and Enrollment.

The University of Arizona calls Microcampuses to programs worldwide that allow earning a full U.S. degree.

An edX Report Features Key Skills and Opportunities for the “New Normal” in Business

IBL News | New York 

edX.org released a free, 9-page business guide in PDF format featuring learning opportunities in times of a global pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends and upturned business-as-usual strategies and practices, and in a world that’s constantly changing, it’s normal to feel like you don’t have control over what happens next,wrote Liz Joyce, Content Marketing Manager at edX. “One thing you can control? Your education.”

The guide is intended for professionals seeking to jump into a new field, advancing their career o exploring a new topic. It mostly features learning opportunities at edX.

For the “new normal” in business, edX lists ten key skills:

  • Inclusive and compassionate leadership
  • Strategy and business model development
  • Lean Six Sigma
  • Analytics
  • Digital marketing
  • Forecasting methodology
  • Logistics optimization
  • Managing remote teams
  • Modern Finance
  • Soft skills in communication, collaboration, etc.

Coursera Reports a Surge of 21 Million Learners Since Mid-March

IBL News | New York

Coursera.org reported yesterday an unprecedented demand on its platform since mid-March, with a surge of 21 million learners and 50 million enrollments, a 353%  and 444% increase respectively over the same period last year. In addition, thousands of colleges and universities now offer Coursera to enrich their students’ learning experience.

“What started as a short-term response to a crisis will result in a long-term digital transformation of higher education,” explained Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO at Coursera in a blog-post.

To analyze the new ways of learning, The Mountain View, California-based company issued the “2020 Impact report”, a 26-page PDF document with Coursera’s view, along with industry trends.

Jeff Maggioncalda wrote: “Students globally are seeking high-quality online learning options. Universities are ushering in a new era of digital transformation. Workers are learning job-relevant skills to stay competitive. Public health officials are training thousands of contact tracers at scale.”

A Startup Company Raises $16M for User Interface that Adds LMS Capabilities to Zoom

Mikel Amigot, IBL News | New York

ClassEDU Inc, a startup company led by Blackboard co-founder and former CEO Michael Chasen, plans to launch at the end of October a powerful LMS interface for Zoom that adds into it live assessments, attendance tracker, proctoring tool, and gradebook, among other capabilities. [See below the video showing the platform]

Washington DC-based, Class for Zoom announced this week that it closed $16 million in seed financing. Early prominent investors in Zoom, along with Deborah Quazzo, Partner at GSV Ventures, and other edtech venture capitalists participated in the funding.

“Teachers using Zoom today need frictionless tools to take attendance, hand out assignments, give quizzes, grade items, or even talk with students one-on-one,” said Michael Chasen. “We designed Class for Zoom to feel and work like an in-person classroom.”

Zoom web conferencing is currently used by over 100,000 K-12 schools and colleges across 25 countries, becoming de facto a learning platform. ClassforZoom.com took advantage of the Zoom phenomenon and built on top of this platform, attracting plenty of capital. For its initiative, it used the software development kit that Zoom makes available to third-party developers.

Due to COVID, students and teachers needed a better tool than Zoom to complete their daily learning tasks.

“Class for Zoom fills a major pedagogical gap at a critical time, by making the virtual classroom feel and operate more like the traditional classroom,” said Lev Gonick, Chief Information Officer at Arizona State University and board member of ClassEDU.

The app, designed for small virtual or hybrid classrooms, is still in development. The price of the product hasn’t been announced yet, although Michael Chasen disclosed that it will be sold to schools as an annual subscription.


Another startup built expressly atop of Zoom is Grain.co, which lets users take notes and share clips from video calls on other media platforms. It attracted $4 million in April 2020.

SXSW EDU Announces that Its 2021 Conference Will Continue to Be Virtual

IBL News | New York 

Will edtech conferences return to normality in 2021 amid the pandemic?

Apparently, not.

South by Southwest (SXSW EDU), one of the earliest on the year calendar, announced yesterday that its 2021 edition will be virtual. It will take place on March 9-11, 2021.

“Although we can’t be certain as to what the future holds, we believe that a special kind of magic takes place when this community is connected,” organizers said yesterday.

The organization hasn’t fully dismissed the possibility of celebrating an in-person show yet. “SXSW is working with the City of Austin and public health authorities on plans for a 2021 physical event, and we will provide updates as more information becomes available.”

However, since the SXSW EDU event in Austin, Texas, was canceled in March this year, the online edition is the only offering.

“This digital experience will feature keynotes and sessions, screenings, showcases, networking, and exhibitions in a whole new way,” said the organization. “We are working hard to reimagine an immersive experience for you — and are excited for the potential that SXSW EDU Online has to bring the community together in new ways.”

Entries for the 2021 online event will open with proposals on Tuesday, October 6.

Facebook Returns to Its Roots by Launching a Campus-Only Social Network

IBL News | New York

Facebook–which started as a college-only network–returned to its roots by launching last week a platform exclusively for students, Facebook Campus.

The social media giant described the platform in a blog post as “a college-only space designed to help students connect with fellow classmates over shared interests,” explaining that due to the pandemic outbreak and the shift to partial or full-time remote learning “it’s more important than ever to find a way to stay connected to college life.

Facebook Campus is a dedicated section of the Facebook app designed for students, with a Campus profile that’s different from their main Facebook profile. To create a Campus profile, students need their college email and graduation year.

Once a Campus profile is set up, students can discover Groups and Events unique to their school, and connect with classmates who share similar interests. When content is shared on Campus, only people within Campus will see it.

The platform includes campus-only news feeds, classmates directories, and real-time chat rooms.

The social media giant started to roll out Facebook Campus to 30 colleges in the US. Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg’s own alma mater, wasn’t on the list.

These are the participating schools: Benedict College; Brown University; California Institute of Technology; College of William & Mary; Duke University; Florida International University; Georgia Southern University; Georgia State University; Johns Hopkins University; Lane College; Lincoln University (Pennsylvania); Middlebury College; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Northwestern University; Rice University; Sarah Lawrence College; Scripps College; Smith College; Spelman College; Stephen F Austin State University; Tufts University; University at Albany – State University of New York; University of Hartford; University of Louisville; University of Pennsylvania; University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; Vassar College; Virginia Tech; Wellesley College; and Wesleyan University. Students at these colleges can find Campus within the Facebook app.

Users initial reviews of the app have been very negative.


ETS Announces Its Investment Arm to Acquire EdTech Companies and Expands Its Offering to Clients

IBL News | New York

ETS–Princeton, New Jersey-based leading assessment nonprofit organization founded in 1947 and making $2.1 billion in revenue–announced this week the creation of ETS Strategic Capital.

This unit will invest in educational businesses that help to expand ETS’ offering for K-12, higher education, and corporation. Its goal is to establish a global portfolio of emerging education companies.

“We bring value-add capabilities in assessments, research and development, global distribution, and innovative technologies to our portfolio and partner companies,” said Ralph Taylor-Smith, the Managing Director of ETS Strategic Capital.

“We’ve reached a pivotal point in the ongoing evolution of education — there is a fundamental change in how educational services are delivered, how tools and assessments are structured, and how learners, schools, and companies are engaged and connected,” he added.

Currently, ETS has a portfolio of five companies:

  • ApplyBoard–A Canadian platform for international student recruitment, with $71 million funding from ETS.
  • Pipplet–A Paris-based start-up specialized in language assessment for businesses.
  • Capti (by Charmtech Labs LLC)–Buffalo, New York-based startup that provides personalized literacy and learning support to K–12 students.
  • EdAgree–A newly formed spin-out company from ETS that will match international students with universities and support those students throughout their education journey.
  • Gradschoolmatch.com–Atlanta-based platform that helps prospective graduate students match with potential graduate academic programs. ETS plans to incorporate it into its offerings to the graduate school market.

ETS Strategic Capital explained that mostly will target private equity investments that are typically in Series B, C, or later, where companies already have a proven product. Its idea is to invest up to $15 million. For acquisitions, it’s targeting companies making at least $20 million in revenue.

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