A MOOC Based On a Successful TV Series of Vampires


Is “edutainment” a good teaching tool? How about leveraging the popularity of a TV series to get people interested in science?

The University of California at Irvine will offer in June, on the Canvas Network, a four-week-long MOOC based on a TV series: “Fight or Die: The Science Behind FX’s The Strain. The course, open for enrollment, will focus on three topics that come from the show: parasites, cyber attacks, and disease dynamics.

In 2013 the University of California launched another MOOC based on a television show. It was a course based on AMC’s The Walking Dead, which attracted around 65,000 learners.

An EdX MOOC Awards The Best Wireless Idea With $5,000

This MOOC from the University of Notre Dame, “Understanding Wireless: Technology, Economics and Policy”, set to start on May 18th on edx.org, will award the best plan that applies the knowledge and experience gained in the course to implement wireless technology in local communities with $5,000.

Submissions from enrolled students will be judged according to their potential impact, feasibility and creativity. Three finalists will be chosen and flown to the Notre Dame campus in September where one selected winner will receive the cash prize.


EdX Will Become the Leader in Website Accessibility for Learners with Disabilities


“edX will become the world leader in website accessibility for learners with disabilities”
, said Tena Herlihy, edX General Counsel, after the educational portal voluntarily entered into an agreement with the US Department of Justice.

After this agreement, edX will conform its website, platform and mobile applications, to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.00 AA), published by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

“Our vision—quality education for everyone, everywhere—can only be achieved when our site is accessible to all users, including people with disabilities”.

The edX and Open edX platform already incorporates synchronized transcripts, video replay at different speeds, keyboard-accessible controls, support for screen reader users and tools to enable the creation of accessible content. Shortly, edX will release Student Notes, the first accessible text annotation tool.

Stanford Open edX Changes its Name to Lagunita

Stanford’s Open edX platform, class.stanford.edu, has been rebranded to Lagunita (http://lagunita.stanford.edu), changed its look and introduced some behind-the-scenes improvements.

“We named Lagunita after the lake near our headquarters on the Stanford University grounds. It’s a peaceful place to walk, ruminate, and spot Northern California wildlife in the midst of a vibrant campus,” explains Stanford’s team.

This Open edX instance, launched in April 2013, is part of the Stanford Online initiative.

$70K is the Average Cost of Producing An Online Course

What is the cost of creating and running a MOOC? And how much money is your College or University willing to invest in it to develop distance learners’ skills?

post on Linkedin has gotten our attention.

  • University of Texas says their cost is $100k to $300k per course.
  • Teachers College at Columbia University estimates them to range from $39k to $204k each.
  • Harvard’s costs range from $75k to $150k.
  • Cornell says that the cost of supporting a MOOC instructor, materials, and teaching assistant is about $50k.
  • Udacity reports costs of $200k to produce a course, plus $50K to run it subsequently. And costs are only expected to rise, they say.
  • edX gives grants of $50k for creating a course within its “High School Program”.

The two main cost components are course creation (faculty, admins, instructional designers, technical support) and the type of delivery. It is generally estimated that the cost of a high quality video production is approximately $4,300 per hour of finished video.

On average, $70k is the cost to produce a course; the delivery costs range from $10-20 per learner to access the course on Amazon or internal servers.

The Top Ten Learning Sites For Entrepreneurs


edX.org is the number one free online resource that can make entrepreneurs more successful, according to Business Insider.

“Taking time for a class can seem tiring, time-consuming, and expensive”.

Business Insider has compiled a list of the top free online learning sites:

  1. EdX.
  2. Alison.
  3. MIT OpenCourseware.
  4. Coursera.
  5. Microsoft Virtual Academy.
  6. Code Academy.
  7. Moz.
  8. HubSpot Academy.
  9. iTunesU.
  10. Doulingo.

The Smithsonian Launches Three Engaging Courses On EdX About History


History can now be learned in a new, engaging way with the help of one of the largest collections of objects and artifacts.

The Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex, founded in 1846, will offer three interesting MOOCs on edX.org. All courses, developed with the National Museum of American History, are currently open for enrollment.


  • Objects That Define America. This course, co-produced in partnership with the The Great Courses, looks at the History of America through the lens of key historic objects, artifacts, and exhibits in the Smithsonian collections –from the Statute of Liberty to the Model T.
  • Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture. Iconic creator Stan Lee will participate in this course. Learners who sign up and earn a verified certificate will receive a credential featuring original artwork with both Stan Lee’s and Michael Uslan’s signatures.
  • Teaching Historical Inquiry with Objects. This course, geared to middle and high school social studies and history teachers, will offer new teaching techniques designed to engage students in the process of historical inquiry.

“The launch of SmithsonianX on edX is one way that the Smithsonian is sharing its collections and scholarships with a global audience,” said Jacqueline Moen, Vice President of SmithsonianX. “This initial portfolio of courses with Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will offer new perspectives on understanding the American experience.”

GW Offers Two Signature Courses Through Its New Open edX Platform


“The Past, Present, and Future of the Federal Reserve” and “Business in a Political Age” are two signature MOOCs that the George Washington University (GW) will start offering in April.

These spectacular free courses, offered on a new Open edX platform, “are designed to educate the world”, said Paul Schiff Berman, Vice Provost for Online Education and Academic Innovation.

“These are courses that no other university is offering, and perhaps no other university could offer,” he added.

Registration is now open to the public.

[GW Today: New Online Course Offerings for GW]
[Disclosure: IBL Studios designed and powered the platform]

Not Captioning Your MOOCs? MIT And Harvard Are Sued For Discriminating Against Deaf Students

Wake-up call for schools who are not offering captions for their MOOC content.

MIT and Harvard University are facing two federal class action lawsuits filed by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and four deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, claiming the universities failed to caption a vast array of online content, including MOOCs.

The cases, filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, assert that MIT and Harvard violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by denying deaf and hard of hearing people access to thousands of videos and audio tracks that each university makes publicly available for free.

“This lawsuit is part of our battle for full access to online media content,” explained Howard A. Rosenblum, NAD’s Chief Executive Officer. (Watch above’s video).

The non-captioned content includes campus talks by President Barack Obama and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, educational videos made by MIT students for use by K-12 students, “self-help” talks, entire semesters’-worth of courses and regular podcasts such as the “HBR IdeaCast” by the Harvard Business Review.

With this lawsuit the message to large universities is loud and clear: you should make accommodations for people with disabilities and online course material should be accessible. Entire groups of people cannot be excluded.


Get A Solid Understanding of Blended Learning With This edX Course

For an educator who wants to enhance his classroom experience with educational technology, the Open edX technology is a great solution.

Blended Learning with edX  is an online course created by the edX team that includes examples of course teams from around the world as well as research articles. It also contains numerous discussion threads that invite users to share resources and ideas with each other.

“Our hope is that this course not only provides you with a solid foundational understanding of blended learning, but that it continues to serve as a resource to you throughout your own course design process,” say the creators.

The course’s intro video, above, showcases TEAL, MIT’s Technology Enabled Active Learning classroom.

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