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.

EdX Launches the "Birch" Release – A Sneak Peak of Its Features


The Open edX “Birch” release –the second version after “Aspen”– is almost here. It is scheduled to be released in February.

For now, this version is a release candidate.

“Birch” will include many new features, capabilities and APIs, as well as many small changes and bug fixes. edX’s Release Notes provide a cumulative list of changes listed after the release of Aspen, which was based on the version from September 4, 2014.

Here is a summary:

  • Prerequisite courses. You can require that students pass specific edX courses before enrolling into your course.
  • Entrance Exams. You can require that students pass an entrance exam before they access your course materials.
  • Student Notes. Learners can highlight text and take notes while progressing through a course. They can then review their notes either in the body of the course or on a separate “Notes” tab.
  • Course Reruns. You can create a new course easily by re-running an existing course. When you re-run a course, most –but not all– of the original course content will be duplicated onto the new course.
  • Google Calendar and Google Drive Components. You can embed Google calendars and Google Drive files into your course. Learners may see the calendar or file directly in the courseware. Learners can also interact with Google Forms files, and complete forms or surveys in the courseware.
  • Support for “Graded Problems” in “Content Experiments”. You can now use graded problems in content experiments.
  • Split Mongo Modulestore. This refers to the separation of identity, structure and content, and it enables you to use more advanced capabilities while developing and managing courses.
  • Cohorts for Discussions and Content. You can now define smaller communities of students within the larger, course-wide community. Learners in a given cohort may have private discussions.
  • Content libraries and randomized content. You can create a content library that contains a pool of components that can be used in randomized assignments.

A New Proposal: Spend Just Two Years on Campus

Why should college only last for four years? Why stop learning after that period of time?

Some days ago we mentioned a bold initiative based on taking one year of college for free by using MOOCs.

Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, says in an interview that a continuous education system will allow people to get just-in-time education on topics that are on cutting edge of technology and learn as they need to learn”.

“Imagine that a student comes into college having done their first year of college as MOOCs and online — possibly even for free. And they come in and they get credit for those first year of courses. They spend two years on campus, and then rather than spending the fourth year on campus, they go outside, get a job and become continuous learners for the rest of their lives.”




An Investor Donates $1 Million to To Support the Creation of 20 AP-Oriented MOOCs and Allow Students Start College For Free


Steven B. Klinsky, 58 a New York professional investor who founded the private equity firm New Mountain Capital, is proposing a way for high school students to take one year of college online for free.

To carry out his vision, he has donated $1 million to edX –the MIT and Harvard University overseen online venture– and has formed a nonprofit group group, the Modern States Education Alliance.

His idea, announced last week through the Washington Post, is to have 20 new edX courses, in addition to an existing 10, that would prepare students to pass Advanced Placement (AP) or College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests so they can be able to take freshman year for free and start in college as sophomores.

Mr. Kinsky’s “Freshman Year for Free” initiative occurs while President Obama is proposing that community college should be free.

By using this funding, edX will add these additional courses to its current suite of AP and introductory college-level courses currently offered on its platform.

  • “These additional courses will ensure that every major subject covered by a College Board Advanced Placement* or CLEP* exam will be offered on Students completing the courses will have an opportunity to pass exams and gain credit from traditional colleges and universities. All courses are planned to launch and be open for registration on within the next 18 months,” edX explains.
  • “These courses will cover important freshman college subjects, ranging from math, science and history courses, to economics, anthropology, philosophy, foreign languages, and English.”
  • “Each course will be developed by edX university partners, and will include quizzes, tests, assessments, online discussion groups and other features.  Texts and materials will also be provided to students free of charge, online.”

For decades, many colleges have offered credit to students for high scores on AP tests. Credits are also available through the College-Level Examination Program, known as CLEP.

Modern States intends to add tutoring, counseling, mentoring and college guidance to its portal over time, and to continuously update and expand the course offerings.

“No one should be shut out of education after high school because of tuition cost or lack of access,” said Steven Klinsky, Modern States’ founder and chairman.  “Modern States’ goal is to create at least one universally available and tuition free path toward high quality education for anyone who seeks it.

Another initiative to make college free came from Shai Reshef, founder of University of the People. His TED talk last summer has been viewed by more than a million people.

MOOCs 2.0 Arrive to Make Courses More Engaging and Interactive

Welcome to the MOOC 2.0 age.

MOOCs created a market for free online courses. The MOOC 2.0 concept arrives to make courses more engaging, interactive and personalized. Now that there is more data and analysis, instructors are researching best practices in teaching and learning. In addition, there are several studies on how student interaction promotes learning and retention.

Ten Great Educational Sites With Tons of Free Resources

When you produce a blended course or a MOOC you realize how important it is to have free digital teaching and learning content at your disposal.

Here is a list of helpful websites:

1. Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons. Almost everything (peer-reviewed textbooks, lesson plans, video lectures, worksheets…). Creative Commons-licensed and open for modification and adaptation.

2. Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources. Colleges, government agencies, and other education organizations belong to this group.

3. Flat World Knowledge. Creative Commons-licensed material.

4. HippoCampus. Intended for high school and college students and instructors interested in supplementing their course materials.

5. Open Textbook Catalog. Customizable and printable online textbooks.

6. P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University). This organization leverages both open content and the open social web.

7. CK-12. This foundation provides free, openly-licensed digital textbooks for K-12.

8. Shmoop. Writing guides, analyses, discussions and other free resources.

9. Curriki. Free-to-use digital learning and teaching material.

10. MIT Open CourseWare: Videos, lectures, exams… all open to the public and free of charge.

Now Paid Courses For Working Professionals On


EdX has launched fee-based professional education courses that will typically run for a few days to several weeks.

Course content will be geared toward employers and employees, and offer Verified Certificates of Achievement.

Price tags will vary: from a cost of $495 per student on Rice’s “Basics of Energy Sustainability” to $1,249 on MIT’s “Engaging with Innovation Ecosystems: The Corporate Perspective”. Revenue from these courses will be shared between edX and their partners. Employers buying the courses in bulk will receive a discount.

These courses will start in 2015 and will focus on subjects such as leadership, IT, business, engineering, communications, energy, medicine, big data, cybersecurity and innovation.

The first five courses (see the image above) have been created by MIT‘s Sloan School of Management, Rice University and Delft University of Technology. Harvard’s Vice Provost announced that this institution won’t take part in this professional education program.

Educause: Trends in Higher Education; the Role of the CIO


What are the key technology trends in higher education?

See the picture above that we captured last week at the Educause annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, where more than 7,000 college officials, 270 exhibitors and hundreds of organizations –IBL, among them– gathered to discuss new ideas such as the new role of the CIO in the educational industry (see below).

Fast trends (1-2 years):

  • Growing ubiquity of social media
  • Integration of online, hybrid and collaborative learning

Mid range trends  (3-5 years):

  • Rise of data-driven learning and assessment
  • Shift from students as consumers to students as creators

Long range trends (8 or more years)

  • Agile approaches to change
  • Evolution of online learning

The New Horizon Report is can be downloaded here.

The Chief Information Officer’s new role

cio role

Moreover, Educause was organized and insightful, and it was a great gathering. Once again, we learned a lot!

YouTube Videos on edX Will Have Hidden URLs


The newest version of the edX platform, released on September 18th, includes a very useful feature, although it might go in the opposite direction of the open education trend: it hides YouTube and non-YouTube videos’ URLs. However, the author of the course can allow students to download them.


Another important announcement came from Google Education, who added the ability to use over 60 external third-party authentication systems on the Open edX platform, with support for everything from open standards like OpenID or OAuth 2.0, to custom single sign-on systems. The authentication module is extensible and its features are completely configurable.

[Update: OpenID 2.0 for Google accounts is going away on April 20. OpenID 2.0 has been superseded by OpenID Connect.]



On the other hand, there is a new version of the edX demo course, which is interesting for new students and course designers.







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