How to Equip Managers to Lead Remote Teams and Reap Productivity Gains

IBL News | New York

The percentage of people working from home has skyrocketed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

How are business organizations responding?

Recent surveys indicate that two-thirds of businesses are struggling to adapt to remote work. Employees’ productivity and engagement are now at stake.

Management consultant Gallup suggests creating a long-term, work-from-home strategy that makes sense for your unique business circumstances and employees’ wellbeing.

How CEOs and managers lead their remote teams and position each team member is critical. Their goal should always be to inspire and empower employees to be the best versions of themselves.

These are seven ideas that can inspire productivity gains in the workforce, making employees happier, and more efficient:

  1. Set specific goals and key milestones, and clarify the role of each member. In addition, CEOs and managers should explain the vision of the company, along with expectations on performance, getting everyone behind the mission.
  2. Make time for interaction and video chat, giving your teammates an opportunity to bond. This way they will collaborate naturally on teams.
  3. Offer weekly feedback and recognize employees’ efforts to foster motivation. Millennials especially appreciate that. Build a culture of feedback, transparency, and learning, getting to know each individual.
  4. Set incentive and rewards programs, after you understand what motivates your employees. Give recognition for good work.
  5. Increase workers’ autonomy, allowing them to make free choices in the workplace, and be accountable for their decisions. Encourage risk-taking.
  6. Organize remote workshops and provide new knowledge through effective online training, both synchronous and self-paced.
  7. Empower the workforce with the best technology. Find solutions that can automate and speed up tedious and unproductive tasks.


Over Two Billion Children and Young People Lose Out on Education Due to No Internet Access

IBL News | New York

Around 1.3 billion school-aged children aged 3-17 do not have an Internet connection at home.

There is a similar lack of online access for 759 million young people aged 15-24. It means that over 65% are unconnected at home. This digital gap prevents them to acquire the skills needed to compete today and isolates them from the job market.

“Lack of internet access, in the event of school closures, such as those currently experienced by millions due to COVID-19, is costing the next generation their futures,” said Henrietta Fore, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director.

Today, a quarter of billion students worldwide are affected by school closures due to the pandemic, relying on remote learning.

The UNICEF-ITU report How Many Children and Youth Have Internet Access at Home? indicates that only 16% of the poorest households have Internet at home.

UN officials consulted by IBL News highlighted that This digital divide is perpetuating inequalities. Issues Two Subscription-Based Courses on Blogging and Podcasting

IBL News | New York has started this month a customer education initiative with two subscription-based courses: Blogging for Beginners and Podcasting for Beginners.

Automattic—the company behind WordPress—plans to launch additional courses in 2021.

Its learning offering revolves around the topic of how to grow a web presence by strategically using tools–its tools–for building a brand, blog, or community online.

This past Spring, released free daily and in-depth topical webinars. Months later, taking into account customer feedback, Automattic has created (or WordPress Courses).

These classes include weekly office hours with experts, a certificate of completion, access to a private community online, and virtual meetups scheduled quarterly.

“Our vision is to create a supportive community where you can meet new people, share ideas, and grow together,” said Monica Ohara, Chief Marketing Officer at create those courses, Automattic has used a combination of its own tools, such as WooCommerce, Jetpack, Sensei LMS, P2, Tumblr, and WordPress VIP

  • Podcasting for Beginners — “Video-driven course with over six hours of original video content. Lessons include finding a niche, choosing a podcast format, recording and editing interviews, submitting to podcast directories, growing an audience, and making revenue from a podcast. An annual subscription for access to the Podcasting for Beginners course and community is $99.”
  • Blogging for Beginners, — “Soft-launched in October, it provides on-demand, text-based foundational lessons to establish a successful blog. Lessons include building a blog, understanding audiences, design, writing for the internet, branding, and how to grow and make revenue from a blog. An annual subscription for access to the Blogging for Beginners course and community is $49.”

Coursera Curates a Collection of Courses Inspired on Disney’s and Pixar’s Soul Movie

IBL News | New York

Coursera has curated a themed collection of courses that focuses on learners’ artistic and creative interests, in a promotional celebration of Disney & Pixar’s Soul streaming on Disney+ on December 25.

This collection includes courses and specializations such as The Science of Well-Being from Yale UniversityThe DIY Musician from Berklee College of MusicAchieving Personal and Professional Success from the University of Pennsylvania, and Finding Purpose and Meaning In Life: Living for What Matters Most from the University of Michigan.

The course Brilliant, Passionate You includes stories from students, doctors, teachers, and professional athletes, along with imagery from Soul.

“Finding purpose and passion is fundamental to both learning and living. Soul’s characters and themes capture so much of what this new course is about,” said James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost and the founding director of U-M’s Center for Academic Innovation, which developed the course.

“We’re honored to collaborate with Disney and Pixar and we’re excited for learners inspired by Soul and our courses to discover more ways to live a life of passion and purpose,” wrote in a blog-post Stephanie Hale, Director of Brand at Coursera.


Open edX & Learning Platforms | December 2020: Harvard, Coursera, Udacity, Google Classroom…

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DECEMBER 2020 – NEWSLETTER #33  |  Breaking news at IBL News  |  Noticias en Español


Open edX

• edX Releases Its Latest Open Platform Named Koa



• edX Changes the Look of Its Logo and Website

• edX Awards Instructors of a Course that Teaches How to Build Energy-Efficient Homes

• The edX Virtual Global Forum Will Recognize Instructors from 10 Courses and Programs

• Thomas Edison State University Backs with College Credit Two MicroBachelors Programs on



• Innovators Shared Ideas to Improve Zoom and Design Blended New Learning Environments

• Harvard’s Professor and EdTech Visionary Robert Lue Dies at 56 From Cancer



• Coursera Removes the Infinity Icon from Its Logo Wordmark

• Coursera Weighs an IPO in 2021 at a Valuation of $5 Billion, Bloomberg Says

• Cuomo Hires to Provide Unemployed New Yorkers with Access to Training Programs

• Coursera Extends Its Annual Subscription Plan Worldwide



• Udacity Raises $75M in Debt and Announces It’s Now Profitable


Learning Platforms

• Open LMS/Moodlerooms Acquires Competitor eThink Education for $20 Million in Cash

• Edmodo and Google Classroom Top the List of Most Downloaded Apps During the Pandemic

• Learning Platforms Run Discount Codes on Courses and Membership This Cyber Week

• Video Management Company Panopto Adds Webex Integration


2020 Events 

• Education Calendar  –  DEC   |  JAN 2021  |  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 and communities. Read the latest IBL Newsletter   |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

Online Learning | December 2020: Pluralsight, Noodle, Doulingo, Udemy, Nvidia, Educause…

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NOVEMBER 2020 –  NEWSLETTER #38  |  Breaking news at IBL News  |  Noticias en Español



• Training Company Acquired by Equity Firm Vista for $3.5 Billion

• Noodle’s Latest Acquisition of HotChalk Will Increase Its Marketing Capabilities

• Instructure Acquires K12 Assessment and Analytics Company Certica Solutions



• Language Learning App Duolingo Gets a $2.4 Billion Valuation While It Prepares its IPO

• Udemy Reaches a $3.25 Billion Valuation After Raising Another $50 Million



• A StartUp Brings Together Online Students in a COVID-Safe Campus Resort in Texas

• NVIDIA Creates a Learning Community Around Its Jetson AI Micro-Computer

• A Financial Education Platform Provides Short Lessons on Practical Topics


Higher Ed

• Unizin’s Consortium Partners with Blackboard to Offer Ally to its 14 Member Institutions

• International Enrollments Drop 43% in the U.S. Due to the Global Pandemic

• Educause Analyzes How Higher Education Institutions Will Emerge from the Pandemic



• CIOs and CTOs Accelerate AI, Machine Learning, 5G and IoT Due to the Pandemic

About Half of the US Says that More Training Doesn’t Result in a Better Job



• The COVID Pandemic Causes Devastation to Children’s Learning Across the World

• Rensselaer Develops a Web App that Shows How COVID Will Spread in the Spring Semester

• SUNY Announces Remote Instruction Until February, Along with Mandatory Tests and Masks-Wearing


2020 Events 

• Education Calendar  –  DEC   |  JAN 2021  |  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 and communities. Read the latest IBL Newsletter   |  Archive of Open edX Newsletters

edX Awards Instructors of a Course that Teaches How to Build Energy-Efficient Homes

IBL News | New York

TU Delft Professors Andy van den Dobbelsteen, Eric van den Ham, and Researcher Tess Bloom won the 2020 edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning.

They teach the course Zero-Energy Design: an approach to make your building sustainable, with 16,000 enrollments to date.

The course was designed to provide an innovative learning experience. The creators even produced a compelling short-film to show how students at TU Delft turned an energy-inefficient terraced row house into an energy-efficient home.

The course team also provided weekly video-feedback to students.

Additionally, the final project had the learners redesign a building they know (their home, school, workplace, a local familiar building) into a more energy-efficient structure.

TU Delft’s instructors were selected among an array of finalists.

This is the second time that TU Delft has been awarded the edX Prize; Professor Arno Smets took home the inaugural prize in 2016.

Coursera Removes the Infinity Icon from Its Logo Wordmark

IBL News | New York

Coursera unveiled this week its new brand identity “to reflect its growth” and “be clearer about who we are and why we’re here—for our learners, our partners, our customers, and the world.”

That graphical change—which might be imperceptible to the user—is essentially based on removing the infinity symbol the company was using on its wordmark. Now Coursera starts with a C.

Stephanie Hale, Director of Brand at Coursera, explained in a blog post: “The C is an entry point into the full span of learning opportunities on Coursera—from projects and free courses to Professional Certificates and degrees.” She added: “The C spotlights a world of possibility and provides a path for learners from discovery to outcome.”

Selected typefaces are Source Sans Pro and Noto Sans Pro.“These typefaces support 582 languages and provide optimal upload and download speeds across devices and browsers for offline learning.”



edX Changes the Look of Its Logo and Website

IBL News | New York

edX Inc. introduced today a new look for its brand, along with a redesigned website.

Stephanie Brocuum, Chief Marketing Officer at edX, explained that the goal was “making it easier to identify what edX course or program will help you get to the next step in your career, or maybe it means helping you figure out what coding language you should learn.”

The graphical change also affected Open edX—the software platform used by the portal and many institutions and companies all around the world.

“The new logo and the other updates to our look and feel are the culmination of a lengthy design process and a great deal of testing with edX users,” wrote Ed Zarecor, Head of Engineering at edX.

Mr. Zarecor encouraged hosting providers and development firms that use the Open edX code to use the new logo “by the end of January,” following the trademark guidelines.

Training Company Acquired by Equity Firm Vista for $3.5 Billion

IBL News | New York

Private investment firm Vista Equity Partners announced yesterday it was acquiring publicly-traded Pluralsight, Inc. (NASDAQ: PS) in an all-cash transaction that values the training company at approximately $3.5 billion.

Shareholders will receive $20.26 in cash for each share of common stock they own.

The purchase price represents a premium of 25% of the company’s closing stock over the past 30 days.

The agreement was unanimously approved by the Pluralsight Board of Directors. The training company indicated that “the shares subject to the voting agreement represent a majority of the current outstanding voting power.”

Upon completion of the transaction–expected to close in the first half of 2021–, Pluralsight will become a privately held company and shares of Pluralsight common stock will no longer be listed on any public market.

Another Utah educational company, Instructure–the owner of Canvas LMS–was bought by another equity firm this year for $2 billion.

Headquartered in Silicon Slopes, Utah, Pluralsight claims to serve 17,000 customers, including 70% of Fortune 500 companies. It was founded in 2004. After raising over $190 million, it went public in May 2018. Today, it offers under a monthly subscription model a catalog of 7,500 online video courses developed mostly by paid third-party authors. It has a workforce of 1,700 employees.

Vista Equity Partners owns two education technology companies: PowerSchool and EAB. Its CEO, Robert F. Smith was recently in the news after paying off the debt for the spring 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

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