McKinsey Academy Launches an XBlock for Polls and Surveys


McKinsey Academy made a contribution to the Open edX ecosystem this month by releasing the Poll and Survey XBlock.

This XBlock, developed by OpenCraft, enables a course author to create poll and survey elements and get feedback from students.

  • Poll XBlocks have one question, and a series of answers.
  • Survey XBlocks have several questions and a handful or answers that students may choose (Such as ‘True’, and ‘False’, or ‘Agree’ or ‘Disagree’).

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.

Classical Investors Jump Into the Educational Technology Business

investorsEducation technology businesses attracted more VC funding in 2014 than ever before: nearly $1.87 billion, up 55 percent from 2013, according to the New York Times which cites a CB Insights report. Classical investors, such as Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz, are jumping into this scenario.

Notable financing deals include:

  • Pluralsight, a company that provides online training to technology professionals seeking to stay current with programming languages, which raised $135 million.
  • Remind, a free messaging service for teachers to communicate with students and parents, with 23 million users, which raised $40 million from venture capital firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
  • Edmodo, an online social network customized for use in the classroom that is free for individual teachers, which raised $30 million.


On the other hand, online personal and professional continuing education company –with a library of 5,700 classes and 255,000 video tutorials– has raised $186 million. The company, valued at $1 billion, will use the funding to hire between 150 and 250 employees and buy education technology companies. Thinkful and Treehouse may be two of them.

This is the second round of financing for Lynda, following a $100 million initial investment from Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and Meritech.

Continuing and adult education in the U.S. is a $55 billion market.


The EdX iPhone App Has Been Released! A Great Tool To Watch Course Videos


EdX has finally released its app for iPhone, although no announcement has been made so far.

This app, available for free in the iTunes store, is a clone of the Android version, except for one detail: video speed can be changed in the iOS version.

The available version is 1.0.00. It is downloadable under the name “edx”.

The edX iPhone app works as a companion tool to watch videos, announcements and handouts. But it does not allow users to take courses entirely on their smartphones. In order to complete readings, homework problems, and exams, the user is redirected to the website. The same applies to forum discussions and assignments, which must be completed through computers or tablets.

Right now only 79 courses are mobile-friendly. This means that only videos coming from these courses are downloadable. Within these 79 courses, however, many videos cannot be downloaded.

Still, some courses like “Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?”, “Entrepreneurship 102: What can you do for your customer” and “The Science of Happiness” offer a good user experience.

Despite some bugs and crashes, the app is well-built and straightforward.

It is great to be able to download and watch videos without consuming cellular data. Definitely, a must-have app for edx-ers.


EdX Launches a Program for Middle School Students


This scholarship challenge aimed at middle school students (7th grade) is a great idea.

Students who complete one of five edX courses designed for advanced high school or college-level students will become finalists in Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Young Scholars Program, aimed at high-performing middle school students with financial need.

The courses, with start dates ranging from January 20 to February 10, include:

The foundation usually receives 1,000-2,000 applications for the program each year; about 500 typically qualify as semifinalists.

First Open edX Meetup Will Take Place in New York on January 22


The first U.S. Open edX meetup will take place in New York on Thursday, January 22, 2015.

IBL Studios Education, along with McKinsey Academy and Johnson and Johnson, is organizing the event.

Six speakers representing the most active organizations in Open edX in the New York area will share their insights.

McKinsey Academy is the sponsor venue.

Sessions will be filmed by IBL and shared online with the whole edX community.

Access is free, although the number of seats is limited. Top academics from several colleges in New York, including NYU, Cooper Union and Columbia, will attend the event.

To join, just RSVP to this Open edX meetup.

This is the list of presenters:

  • Vishal Gandhi – McKinsey Academy
    “Hyperextending edX”
  • Tim Mauri – Johnson and Johnson (J&J)
    “How J&J decided on edX”
  • Ruben Savizky, PhD – Cooper Union
    “Lessons learned from creating a MOOC on”
  • Michael Amigot – IBL Studios Education
    “Digital badges and other innovative features”
  • Yoav Bergner, PhD – Educational Testing Service
    “Collaborative assessment research with Open edX”
  • Bruno Kavanagh – Interactive media consultant, McKinsey Academy
    “Instructional design is dead: Long live learning media!”

Daphe Koller: MOOCs Prove to Be an Effective Way to Close the Skills Gap

Did MOOCs undermined or even replaced the traditional college education?

On the contrary: they have offered an effective way to close the skills gap.

Daphne Koller, cofounder and president of Coursera, shares her view in the MIT Technology Review magazine:

  • Only 15 percent of Coursera’s learners [this company has 10 million enrolled students] are college age. The other 85 percent are adults looking to expand their horizons and working adults working to build critical jobs skills for a better career. Many the skills they seek –data science, mobile apps, digital marketing– didn’t event exist a decade ago.
  •  To complete a MOOC is a measure that brings tangible benefits, including new jobs, new responsibilities, and promotions.
  • A four-year degree is no longer sufficient for a lifelong career. MOOCs can be an important component to better suit the learning needs of the 21st century.

EdX Is A Major Disruption In An Industry With Almost No Change In Two Thousand Years, Says Eric Grimson (MIT)


(By Michael Amigot)

No doubt, a revolution is happening is higher education thanks to the edX technology and pedagogy.

I recently attended a conference in Madrid, Spain, by Eric Grimson, former MIT Chancellor and one of edX’s top pedagogy experts in the world –he has created three successful MOOCs on edX.

He explained how a 2,000 year-old industry is being disrupted today. There have been two major disruptions: the printing press in 1568 and the blackboard in 1801. And we are living the third one: the one that comes from digital tools and particularly from edX.

The conference is magnificent to understand why the edX technology is so unique.

Professor Andrés Pedreño, a leading pedagogist and entrepreneur in Spain, followed Grimson’s speech with a keynote address worth watching.

All is in this video.


The Open edX Platform Gets Fully Translated Into Spanish


The Open edX platform has been fully translated into Spanish (Spain).

A team of three universities from Spain –Carlos III, Autónoma de Madrid and Politécnica de Valencia, which are members of the edX Consortium– along with the Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation (FGSR) and IBL Studios Education, completed the translation in December. In total, 4888 strings were translated.

The project has been conducted through the collaborative platform

The Open edX platform is, so far, 100 percent translated into five languages: Spanish (from Spain), English (from the United States), Arabic, Russian and Lithuanian.

In addition to the translation of the Open edX platform, the three mentioned Spanish universities, FGSR and IBL Studios Education have tackled the translation of most of the website, specially the part regarding the certificates.

Perfectly translated certificates from will foster enrollments from Spanish-speaking students in the U.S., Latin America and Spain.

These three universities will launch several courses in Spanish on February of 2015. The GSR Foundation will also launch an enhanced Open edX platform ( with paid and open courses, intended for professionals focused on reading and literacy. This platform has been developed by IBL.

The GSR Foundation is a recognized non profit organization devoted to reading promotion as well as the Spanish language.


Earn a Certificate on edX's Entrepreneurship 101 Course and Get a $1,000 Credit on AWS

This is an interesting promotion in the MOOCs landscape. Not only you learn, but also you get a cloud service for free.

Any learner who earn a verified certificate in MITx’s Entrepreneurship 101 or Entrepreneurship 102 courses will receive a $1,000 credit for Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well as some training and support on this cloud service.

“Entrepreneurship 101” is great edX course directed by Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. Founders behind start-ups such as HubSpot, FINsix, Oscomp Systems, Lank and other took the course while studying at MIT.  As the course states, “the 25,600 companies started by MIT alumni generate $2 trillion in revenue and have created 3.3 million jobs”. “If MIT were a country, it would be the 11th largest economy in the world.”

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