Apparently MOOCS compete more with TV th

Apparently MOOCS compete more with TV than regular colleges:

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Best quote in the piece: “It seems as though the revenue model for these startups — for the time being at least — is just to raise venture capital.”


Over the past couple of years, Union Square Ventures, already a leading investor in consumer tech startups, has been building up its portfolio in education. It made an early investment in education social network Edmodo in 2010 and, since then, it’s invested in Skillshare, Codecademy and Duolingo.

On Wednesday, Fred Wilson, a managing partner at the firm, gave a little insight into how he and USV view opportunities in education technology as part of an open online course on entrepreneurship in education, called Ed Startup 101. Speaking to a group of ed tech academics, researchers and entrepreneurs, Wilson talked about the role of venture capitalists, potential business models for freemium startups in education and a few areas that are most ripe for innovation.

Until recently, venture capitalists haven’t looked favorably at education, which is notorious for its bureaucracy and long sales cycles. But as startups have…

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Watch this space: LearnSprout and inBloom Announce Strategic Partnership.


Expect to see more announcements such as this one in the coming months.  According to GigaOm:
“InBloom stores the data and provides integration tools and services to allow schools, districts, states and other vendors to aggregate student data from Student Information Systems, testing vendors and other sources. It also helps educators find instructional content aligned with certain standards so they can match it to their students’ needs.” Other Ed-tech companies, including Schoology, Wireless Generation, and Clever have indicated they will be developing applications that work with APIs developed by inBloom, formerly known as the Shared Learning Collaborative. No word about integration from the burgeoning social network for teachers Edmodo. Maybe there will be more announcements at next week’s big SXSW-Edu conference in Austin.

Rapidly growing K-12 edtech company to power connection between leading student information systems and nation’s first common education technology infrastructure. Full Press release:

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“Accepted!” (President Obama’s Bold Plan to Reshape American Higher Education)


The key excerpt from this insightful post by education policy analyst Kevin Carey is the following: “The clear implication is that the higher education models that would eligible for federal financial aid through the alternate accreditation system wouldn’t have to be colleges at all. They could be any providers of higher education that meet standards of “performance and results.”
If this prediction proves correct, the new accreditation model may well hasten the demise of the for-profit higher-ed business as well as small, regionally accredited colleges that exist on the margin of the post secondary sector. If the vast pool of motivated, but financially challenged students will be able to choose between taking out five figure student loans to attend a mediocre institution, or can cobble together a program of study from the top universities in the world for free, and get an equivalent accreditation which will lead to gainful employment, then the existence of such esteemed places of higher learning as South Harmon Institute of Technology is indeed in doubt. Further, if the requirements to qualify for Pell Grants (the $40B federal voucher system for low-income students) are expanded to include these alternative models of a college education, it opens a barn door sized opportunity for purveyors of MOOC  offerings to build a sustainable revenue model. The VCs are already salivating at the possibilities. Stay tuned.
The rest of the blogpost is here:

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It’s all about branding. They just need to rename the course “How NOT to run a MOOC” and call it an outstanding success. Kudos to Tech for pushing the envelope.


A Coursera instructor offering an online course on how to manage an online course has apparently given her students – all 40,000 of them – an unintentional lesson on how not to do just that.

Just a week after its launch, a course on the “Fundamentals of Online Learning” was suspended after complaints by students about technical glitches, confusing instructions and problems with the group-oriented design of the class.

Led by Fatimah Wirth, an instructional designer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the class was intended to cover online pedagogy, course design, assessment, web tools and other relevant topics.  But, as first reported by Inside Higher Ed, several of the students – many of whom are educators and online learning experts themselves – quickly took to Twitter and their own blogs to document the “MOOC Mess.”

On her blog, Online Learning Insights, educator and instructional designer Debbie Morrison called it

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Dear Edtech Entrepreneur


I came across this open letter from a teacher to ed-tech entrepreneurs, which I recommend to anyone planning to reshape the educational landscape.

The writer of this blog is a teacher and PD professional, who makes an impassioned plea to developers of innovative and disruptive ed-tech products to spend a little more time thinking, or talking to their customer, in this case, teachers. The essence of her post is that in order for her to recommend any new product or service to the teachers at her school, it must meet several criteria. These include many of the factors any new product or app should have, including an “instant-gratification” UX – no cumbersome set-up time or complicated data migration issues. Also, readily available support from the vendor, including, if need be, a site visit. (This one may pose a challenge for freemium-priced products, but clearly support is a major requirement). Fair enough, but I would argue that there is another factor that determines the success of any new technology in a school. That is, the adoption rate by teachers. Any single teacher may discover a new tool that makes her/his life easier, but if that teacher is the only user in the school, the product will have limited traction in the market. So the challenge for the entrepreneur is to create a solution that makes advocates, or better yet, evangelists, of those early adopters. The user experience should be so compelling that other teachers who look over the first teacher’s ask, “Hey, where do I get that?”. (This is known as the Instagram adoption model.) If it results in some measurable parameter improving by a standard deviation or more, then it is likely that it will get the attention of other teachers, and perhaps even the principal.  The adoption rate will increase geometrically if this achievement can be obtained while decreasing costs or time spent on a mind-numbing task. According to the teacher-blogger Ms. Estrella, the worst offenders apparently are grade-book and learning management systems.


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This is a very positive development for the ed-reform movement, but it strikes me as about as likely to succeed as a bank robber paying SunTrust to allow him to tunnel into the their safe. Sure they get $25K now, but they may find that down the road, people use the bank less often. SIS vendors have built nearly impenetrable walls around their systems, leveraging the fear and paranoia associated with issues such as student privacy and data security, because that allows them to continue extracting rents from their captive users, without having to innovate. Nimble start-ups like Clever, Learnsprout and others are creating ways to circumvent the stranglehold the SIS vendors have had on school districts, and it’s refreshing to learn that a Goliath like Pearson is willing to give a slingshot to a David, like Schoology. Fire away!


Last year, we saw momentum build for open data in education with the launch of data startups LearnSprout and Clever, the creation of the non-profit Shared Learning Collaborative and the release of more government education datasets. But New York-based Schoology wants to step on the gas and is putting up $250,000 to do it.

On Tuesday, the company, which provides a cloud-based learning management system and social network for schools, said that it was challenging Student Information Systems (SISes) to create APIs (application programming interfaces) to promote the open exchange of data. To date, few SISes, which store all kinds of information about students — from grades and attendance records, to addresses and more — have released APIs. That means that when ed tech companies want to bring new tools to the classroom, they have to integrate with each district individually in a potentially tedious, weeks-long process. Clever and…

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