An MITx Course on edX Explores Solutions for the Massive and Persistent World Poverty

IBL News | New York

MITx launched on an 11-week, free course for learners interested in solving the massive and persistent economic poverty in the world.

The Challenges of Global Poverty is taught by two Nobel Prize instructors: Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and Esther Duflo, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

The course–part of the MITx MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy—challenges economics to provide solutions.

The authors pose the following questions:

“Is extreme poverty a thing of the past? What is economic life like when living under a dollar per day? Are the poor always hungry? How do we make schools work for poor citizens? How do we deal with the disease burden? Is microfinance invaluable or overrated? Without property rights, is life destined to be “nasty, brutish, and short”? Should we leave economic development to the market? Should we leave economic development to non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? Does foreign aid help or hinder? Where is the best place to intervene?”



MOOCs Skyrocket Due to the Pandemic: Over 180 Million Learners, and Counting

IBL News | New York

MOOCs (Massive Online Courses) started the second year of the pandemic attracting a massive number of learners.

Within the last ten months, MOOCs have added one-third of its enrollment until reaching 180 million worldwide (excluding China), according to data released by Class Central.

Coursera, edX, Udacity, and FutureLearn–the largest MOOC providers–launched over 2800 courses, 360 micro-credentials, and 19 online degrees in 2020. Many were free certificate courses.

Currently, about 90 online providers offer free learning opportunities. This phenomenon prompted plagiarism and cheating from students aiming to chase free certificates, as a mentor of Coursera denounced.

Today, the number of MOOCs surpasses 16,500. It’s been a dramatic rise since the MOOC movement started in 2012.

The most popular course during the pandemic was Yale University’s The Science of Well-Being, with 2.5 million enrollments in 2020.

One-fifth of the 100 most popular courses launched in 2020 are related to the COVID pandemic. The top course, with over 1 million enrollments, is Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 Contact Tracing. It’s followed by Harvard’s Mechanical Ventilation for COVID-19, with 300K enrollments.

“I’m calling 2020 the Second Year of the MOOC,” wrote Dhawal Shah, Founder and CEO at Class Central.



Higher Ed Institutions Function Only at 75% Capacity. This Gap Costs $50 Billion

IBL News | New York

Higher Education in the United States is only functioning at 75% capacity—leaving as many as 5 million empty classroom seats each year, says a report by Lumina Foundation. This is the result of the fact that in the last 10 years, higher education capacity has grown 26% while enrollment has only grown by 3%.

On average, schools with fewer than a thousand students are down to 59% utilization.

This imbalance between supply and demand has been deepened by the 2020 pandemic’s impact.

Underutilization—from empty classrooms to vacant labs to unused dorms—translates into higher costs for students and risks the future of higher education. Overall, it costs students, institutions, and states around $50 billion annually, according to a study completed by EY Parthenon.

“Institutions whose enrollments are flat or decreasing must adapt to the reality of today’s demographics and stop acquiring land, building more dorms, hiring new faculty, and stop constructing rock walls for the 2% of students who might find them interesting,” write Brad Kelsheimer and Courtney Brown, from the Lumina Foundation.

Lumina encourages higher ed institutions to reinvent themselves, rethinking who they serve (i.e., adults), what they provide (i.e., employment-aligned credentials), and how they deliver.

Being more relevant and accessible to adults seems a good opportunity given that 90 million working-age adults have no credentials beyond a high school diploma.

Another piece of advice to reduce costs and increase efficiencies is to develop collaborations and partnerships between schools, like consortia, or shared service agreements between schools. Adds an AI-Based Tool that Recommends Courses to Complement Skills

IBL News | New York—an online learning platform developed by Global Knowledged—announced yesterday a course recommendation feature as part of its personalized learning path AI technology.

“Next course recommendations, as part of Smart Learning, will initially follow learning paths that guide learners from the introduction of new skills to those course completion certificates and allow them to branch off to related topics,” said John McKeever, Head of Content at Develop.

This tool is intended to help users avoid spending time grinding through courses for skills that they already have.

“We envision a future where learning is as smart as you are, and this is the first step to getting to desired skill level destinations more quickly and efficiently,” he added.

Boston-based competes with by providing on-demand, subscription courses for IT and business professionals.

The platform is built on an Open edX ecosystem developed by the New York-based IBL Education learning software company.

The Top News Stories of the Year on edX, Coursera, and Learning at Scale Platforms

IBL News | New York

The COVID-19 outbreak seriously hit residential teaching, while boosting online learning revenues and ventures. edX, Coursera, Udemy, and overall all learning platforms experienced remarkable growth.

Here are the most-read stories at IBL News.


• Reaches 35 Million Registered Learners and 110 Million Enrollments

• edX Releases Its Latest Open Platform Named Koa

• edX Launches Its First Two MicroBachelors Degrees with WGU and NYU

• The ‘Introduction to Linux’ Course on Surpasses One Million Enrollments

• Stanford University Joins the edX Consortium Seven Years Later


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

• Coursera and edX Launch Initiatives to Support Universities Impacted by the Outbreak

• Coursera Introduces Its First Fully Online Bachelor’s from an American University


• Udemy’s Corporate Learning Division Surpasses $100M In Annual Revenue

• Canvas LMS Picks a New CEO From Outside the Educational Industry

• Simon Nelson, Original CEO of FutureLearn, Leaves His Company


• MITx Passes the Milestone of 10 Million Enrollments on Its Online Courses

• A Practical Course from MIT on edX Teaches How to Shape Your Future in the Age of AI


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

• Harvard University’s LabXChange Platform Wins the 2020 Open edX Prize

• Harvard’s Credit-Bearing, Free Course on Mechanical Ventilators Has Attracted 170,000 Learners in Two Weeks

Transactions | Valuations

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

• A Cloud Guru Acquires The Linux Academy and Claims 1.5 M Learners

• Raises $16 Million in Funding to Expand Its Cinema-Quality Video Courses


2020 Year Review: Top News Stories on Online Learning

IBL News | New York

The consequences of COVID-19 virus spread from China to the world marked the edtech and higher education landscape. The 2020 year showed unbearable distress on face-to-face learning and increased the digital gap among developing nations. The implementation of online technology accelerated, and valuations of edtech companies skyrocketed.

Here are the most-read stories at IBL News on online learning:

Valuations | VC

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

• 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

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

• Skillsoft and Global Knowledge in Talks to Merge and Go Public


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

• Thoma Bravo Completes the Acquisition of Instructure

• Cornerstone OnDemand Acquires Saba for $1.4 Billion


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

• Microsoft Will Offer Free Learning Paths for Digital Jobs In-Demand to 25 Million Facing Unemployment

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


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

• A New Learning Platform During Pandemic Times? The Must-Have List of Features

• MOOCs Were Dead, but Now They Are Booming, According to The New York Times

• Eduventures Encourages to Re-Think Online Learning While Analyzing Scenarios

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

• NY’s Governor Hires the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for Reforming the School System

Higher Ed

• Harvard and Princeton Will Deliver Their Classes Online This Fall; Backlash for Keeping Full Tuition

• The Big Ten Universities Will Accumulate Over $1.7 Billion in Losses Due to the Pandemic

• U.S. Colleges Will Lose Over $3 Billion After International Student Enrollment Decline This Upcoming Fall

• Historic $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill Provides Funding for Higher Ed and Help for Students with Loans

Pandemic Effects

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

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

• Students Find the Learning Experience Provided by Schools To Be Unengaging

• The Global Pandemic Accelerates the Inequalities in Education; 1.1 Billion Children Still Out of School


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

• The City of Austin Cancels SXSW March Festival and Plans a Virtual Conference

• The ASU-GSV Summit Postponed to September 29th. AAC&U Conference Canceled


• How to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus’ Scammers Who Try to Steal Money or Personal Information

• Johns Hopkins University Updates the Coronavirus Map by Adding Local Data

• Don’t Let Education Fall in the Curve of Covid: An Extensive Resource Website with Tools and Services Reaches 35 Million Registered Learners and 110 Million Enrollments

IBL News | New York is closing the year with over 35 million registered learners and 110 million enrollments, according to its own data.

“Everything edX and our partners have been building over the past eight years prepared us for this moment to support our students and the global education system,” wrote Anant Agarwal, edX Founder and CEO.

Another area of growth for edX—the non-profit venture created by MIT and Harvard University—has been edX for Business, intended to provide corporate solutions. Numbers in this area show more than 1,000 customers, 100,000 employees learning on edX, and 300,000 enrollments.

Regarding the Open edX open-source platform, the latest numbers indicate that over 2,400 learning sites worldwide are built with this software.

The 2021 Impact Report describes edX’s progress and strategy.

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.


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.”



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