Armando Fox, the Professor Who Coined the term "SPOC", Honored as an Outstanding Educator

armando-foxArmando Fox, a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Berkeley, author of successful MOOCs and leader at the Open edX community, was honored in June with the Association for Computing Machinery’s Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award.

“Mr. Fox was instrumental in adapting a software-engineering course at Berkeley to be offered as a massive open online course, or MOOC, beginning in 2011. One of the course’s innovations was an automatic grading system to evaluate the correctness and style of student programming assignments,” Ruth Hammond reported at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Armando Fox is the author of the term “SPOCs” or Small Private Online Courses –that is, MOOCs intended for a small audience of learners on campus.

EdX's Best Professors

Who are the most inspiring teachers on

These 11 are the best professors in the edX community, according to an edX evaluation committee. They all have made “exceptional contributions in online teaching and learning”.

One of those finalists will receive the first edX prize on edX’s 2016 Global Forum, which will take place in November in Paris, hosted by Sorbonne University.

This is the list of professors:

The "Science of Happiness" edX Course Attracts 375,000 Students

Since its launch in September 2014, “The Science of Happiness” edX course has attracted more than 375,000 students, according to Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

This eight-week, free course, taught by UC Berkeley’s professors Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon Thomas, shares their findings on science and practice.  This course on positive psychology explores the roots of a meaningful life and highlights the idea that happiness is linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself –the greater good.

Students learn about relevant happiness research through compelling videos featuring professors Keltner and Simon as guest instructors. There are “actionable happiness exercises; accessible reading material; and a weekly “emotion check-in.” “We put the secrets of happiness at your fingertips with just a click of a button”, they say.

The next edition of Science of Happiness starts on September 6, 2016.

Top 50 Free Online Courses of All Time, According to Class Central

class-central-top-50 has come up with a list of the top 50 free online courses of all time based on thousands of reviews written by their users.

“When I launched Class Central back in November 2011, there were around 18 or so free online courses and almost all of them were at Stanford. Now there are close to 6,000 MOOCs from 600+ universities around the world,” explained Dhawal Shah, Founder and CEO of Class Central.

This is the list:

  • An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Part 1)
    Rice University via Coursera
  • Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”)
    University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
  • A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment
    Indian School of Business via Coursera
  • Coding in your Classroom, Now!
    University of Urbino via EMMA
  • Introduction to Programming with MATLAB
    Vanderbilt University via Coursera
  • What Is a Mind?
    University of Cape Town via FutureLearn
  • ER22.1x: Justice
    Harvard University via edX
  • Machine Learning
    Stanford University via Coursera
  • Introduction to Complexity
    Santa Fe Institute via Complexity Explorer
  • Understanding Dementia
    University of Tasmania via Independent
  • Learn to Program: The Fundamentals
    University of Toronto via Coursera
  • The Science of the Solar System
    California Institute of Technology via Coursera
  • The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future
    Emory University via Coursera
  • The Great Poem Series: Unbinding Prometheus
    via OpenLearning
  • Functional Programming Principles in Scala
    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne via Coursera
  • Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects
    University of California, San Diego via Coursera
  • 7.00x: Introduction to Biology – The Secret of Life
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX
  • Medical Neuroscience
    Duke University via Coursera
  • TM01x: Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People
    Tsinghua University via edX
  • Fundamentals of Product Management
    via Skillshare
  • Marketing in a Digital World
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera
  • Moralities of Everyday Life
    Yale University via Coursera
  • Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1
    Stanford University via Coursera
  • Calculus One
    Ohio State University via Coursera
  • CS188.1x: Artificial Intelligence
    University of California, Berkeley via edX
  • Model Thinking
    University of Michigan via Coursera
  • Introduction to Dutch
    University of Groningen via FutureLearn
  • Aprender
    Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México via Coursera
  • The 3D Printing Revolution
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera
  • 15.071x: The Analytics Edge
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX
  • Preparing to Manage Human Resources
    University of Minnesota via Coursera
  • Fractals and Scaling
    Santa Fe Institute via Complexity Explorer
  • The Modern and the Postmodern (Part 1)
    Wesleyan University via Coursera
  • Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World
    University of Groningen via FutureLearn
  • Data Mining with Weka
    University of Waikato via Independent
  • Cryptography I
    Stanford University via Coursera
  • CS50x: Introduction to Computer Science
    Harvard University via edX
  • Artificial Intelligence for Robotics
    Stanford University via Udacity
  • Shakespeare and his World
    The University of Warwick via FutureLearn
  • Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare
    University of Cape Town via FutureLearn
  • Think101x: The Science of Everyday Thinking
    University of Queensland via edX
  • 6.002.1x: Circuits and Electronics 1: Basic Circuit Analysis
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX
  • Intro to Computer Science
    University of Virginia via Udacity
  • Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)
    University of Michigan via Coursera
  • Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance
    Monash University via FutureLearn
  • Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I)
    University of California, San Diego via Coursera
  • Algorithms for DNA Sequencing
    Johns Hopkins University via Coursera
  • CS110x: Big Data Analysis with Apache Spark
    University of California, Berkeley via edX
  • Algorithms, Part I
    Princeton University via Coursera
  • Introduction to Mathematical Thinking
    Stanford University via Coursera
  • CS1156x: Learning From Data (Introductory Machine Learning)
    California Institute of Technology via edX


TU Delft Reaches 1 Million Enrollments on Courses on


RTEmagicC_one_million_enrollments_infographic3.jpg (1)

TU Delft, the largest and oldest public technological university in the Netherlands, announced this week that it has reached 1 million enrollments, with an average age of 29, in its 36 MOOCs in science, design and engineering since 2013.

  • MOOCs’ content is typically derived from classes given in TU Delft’s regular degree programs. At the university level, “these open courses have been used to enable students to attend the lectures online so classroom hours are dedicated to in-depth discussion of the course material, rather than to knowledge transfer”.
  • Some companies, such as Royal Haskoning DHV and Capgemini, have used the MOOCs internally as part of company training.
  • TU Delft has released MOOCs for children, too. The MOOC in Dutch “Scratch, programmeren voor kinderen (8+)” (Scratch, programming for kids (8+)), started on June 15, has attracted 2,500 kids.
  • “Solar Energy” by Arno Smets, TU Delft’s first MOOC, in 2013, has reached 130,000 enrollments and has been translated into Arabic on the Jordanian platform, with the goal to adopt solar energy as an energy source in the Middle East. The course teaches how to install a photovoltaic system using solar panels, and so contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Anka Mulder, vice-president of TU Delft and the driving force behind the MOOCs at the university, has announced that for-credit MOOCs are next.

‘We are now working hard on the next step: ensuring that our students can earn credits for MOOCs of TU Delft, as well as for those from partner universities and vice versa. This means that they will gain access to a wide range of courses from top lecturers around the world. The challenge lies in agreeing on which courses we recognize and how many credits our students can earn in a certain phase of their degree program.’

The following are the course enrollments at Delft:



Number of Runs


Solar Energy 4        131.789
Creative Problem Solving & Decision Making 3        112.972
Data Analysis to the MAX() 3        106.794
Functional Programming 2          62.581
Aeronautical Engineering 4          60.951
Introduction to Credit Risk Management 3          51.549
Pre-University Calculus 3          48.338
Framing : How Politicians Debate 2          47.114
Product Design: Delft Design Approach 3          38.390
Data Analysis: Building Your Own Business Dashboard 2          35.997
Leadership for Engineers 1          29.868
Introduction to Water Treatment 1          29.179
Data Analysis: Visualization and Dashboard Design 1          24.343
Drinking Water Treatment 3          23.812
Industrial Biotechnology 3          23.232
Treatment of Urban Sewage 3          21.886
NGI 1 1          20.534
Water & climate 3          19.415
Circular Economy: an introduction 2          14.113
Responsible Innovation 2          13.997
Sustainable Urban Development 1          10.958
Transport Phenomena 2            8.913
Image | Ability: visualising the Unimaginable 2            8.252
Topology in Condensed Matter: Tying Quantum Knots 2            7.268
Building with Nature 2            7.081
The Next Generation of Infrastructure 2            7.065
Next Generation Infrastructures part 2 1            6.233
Geoscience: the earth and its resources 1            5.324
Open Government 1            4.080
Sustainable Energy: Designing a Renewable Future 1            3.486
Quantum Cryptography 1            3.343
Project Management of Engineering Projects 1            3.138
ScratchX: programmeren voor kinderen 1            2.695
Design Practice in Business 1            2.578
Understanding Nuclear Energy 1            1.482
Observation Theory: Estimating the Unknown 1            1.429
Total                       70     1.000.179

The images below reflect Delft’s success.


Numbers that Speak the Impact of Open Courses: the Scope of edX



Are MOOCs a failure?

Read this interesting thought from Dr. Joshua Kim, director of Digital Learning Initiatives al Dartmouth University, from Inside Higher Ed:

“Those of us participating in the open online education movement (…) never thought that MOOCs would disrupt higher ed.  We create open online courses because offering educational opportunities to the world’s learners is both aligned with our missions, and because we think that participating in this movement is a good way to learn about learning.”

And a good example of the success of the open education (or open courses) movement is edX. Dr. Joshua Kim is sharing these mind blowing numbers:

  • There are 8.3 million (unique) lifelong learners on the edX platform.
  • Between 2012, when edX started, and today – there have been 27 million course enrollments.
  • Over 1,000 courses have been offered.
  • There have been over 2,300 faculty and staff who have taught on edX.
  • Over 840,000 certificates have been earned by edX learners.
  • EdX has over 100 schools, institutes and organizations in the Consortium creating open online courses.

Who exactly are all these lifelong learners on the edX platform?

  • Seven-in-ten lifelong learners are 25 years old or older.
  • The median age of an edX learner is 29.
  • About 36 percent are women, and each year the proportion of women learners on the edX platform grows.  It will be interesting to see if the gender distribution for open online learning starts to match that for post-secondary education as a whole (~57%).
  • Over two-thirds have a bachelor degree or higher, with over a quarter having a masters. (And 4% having a PhD).

And where do edX’s lifelong learners come from?

  • There are lifelong learners in every country of the world (save North Korea).
  • A bit over a quarter (27%) of edX learners come from the U.S. The next biggest country is India (11%), the U.K. and Brazil (both 4%) and China, Canada, and Mexico (3% each).
  • Over four-in-ten edX learners live in emerging economy countries.

“Does Coursera, NovoEd, FutureLearn,, and other open online learning platforms report similar levels and trends?”,
wonders Dr. Kim.

Inside Higher Ed, July 21: The Scope of edX

A New Open edX Hosting Service for Testing or Small Instances

OpenCraft, an Open edX provider led by French developer Xavier Antoviaque, has announced the launch of an pre-installed service to host small Open edX instances, which “can be a good place for a first course experimentation with a small set of students; or as a side instance for tests,” according to his creator.

The service, hosted at, is now in beta mode and open to early testers.

Eucalyptus, the Open edX Platform's Next Version, Will Be Released on August (Updated)


The final version of Open edX “Eucalyptus” is scheduled to be released on August 10th.

This is the estimated release schedule, according to edX:

  • First release candidate (rc1): Wed, July 20th
  • Second release candidate (rc2): Wed, August 3rd
  • Finished Eucalyptus release: Wed, August 10th

Eucalyptus will be based on the code’s master branch of July 8, according to Ned Batchelder, an Open edX manager. The edX engineering team will put together Eucalyptus-related release notes, including the latest developments since Dogwood.

Update July 22: Eucalyptus RC1 has been finally released on Friday 22. See the announcement.

Microsoft Launches a Certification Program in Data Science on

Microsoft announced this week an online certification program, intended for professionals and graduates who are interested in Data Science. This program features several courses on Microsoft Excel, Power BI, R and Python languages, statistics and machine learning.

Available on as a free initiative with a verified certificate from $25 to $99, the Microsoft Data Science Curriculum outlines three units —Fundamentals, Core Data Science and Applied Data Science— and a capstone project requirement where “learners” showcase their acquired talents.

“At Microsoft, we believe the approach and tools used for learning need to continually evolve to meet the demands of our device-centric and data-driven world,” said Alison Cunard, the general manager at Microsoft Learning Experiences. She added that in the current era of technology, “both technical and functional skills are becoming increasingly critical across all careers and vocations.”






AdelaideX Open Learning Initiative in Australia Attracts 300K Enrollments


AdelaideX, the University of Adelaide in Australia’s initiative on, announced that it surpassed the milestone of 300,000 students since the program was launched two years ago. Students from 200 countries have enrolled in seven introductory-level MOOCs produced by the University.

“MOOCs are also leading us in new ways of using digital technologies to enhance our on-campus courses. In Australia, MOOCs have proven popular with hundreds of high school students and pre-university students, who are looking for ways to gauge whether a program is right for them,” said Dr Katy McDevitt, AdelaideX Program Manager.

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