A new MOOC business plan

Coursera, the company that provides many massive open online courses (MOOCs) to colleges, is apparently changing its business strategy, Washington Monthly reports. The way it used to work was that Coursera would offer students free, online versions of courses taught by professors at elite colleges. The students wouldn’t get academic credit from these institutions but they would potentially get the advantage of the high-quality courses. The company wasn’t really sure how to make money off of the free courses, however, and merely proposed potential revenue strategies, like corporate sponsorship or payment for certifications. Observers assumed that eventually the company would find a plan. … Basically it’s moving away from the “you can take computer programing from a Stanford professor” model to the “freshmen biology at this school will only be offered online” model. It’s also moving away from free. … If the college isn’t going to actually teach a course, why is it even offering it? Is the University of Tennessee going to keep charging students $11,194 a year and then make a profit but not really teaching freshmen courses to students?

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New Contract Provides E&I Members with Significant Savings on Bretford
Furniture for Education and Healthcare

CHICAGO and JERICHO, NY — May 30, 2013 — Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.®, a United States manufacturer of progressive furniture solutions that improve how people work and learn, and E&I Cooperative Purchasing, the premier buying consortium for education, have announced a new competitively-awarded contract. All Bretford technology-enabled furniture for K-12, higher education and healthcare applications is now available to E&I members (contract number CNR01331), effective immediately.

Comprised of nearly 3,000 schools and hospitals throughout the U.S., E&I leverages the strength of the cooperative’s membership to offer best value solutions on a broad range of products and services. The Bretford/E&I contract is a pre-competed, publicly-solicited bid, which members can utilize to help streamline the buying process.

Phil Cloutier, vice president of sales, marketing and customer care for Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. explained, “We entered the relationship with E&I as a means to provide our dealer partners and end user customers in education and healthcare with a credible and powerful best-value contracting vehicle to access technology-enabled furniture from Bretford.” He continued, “As a result of the Bretford/E&I contract, E&I members now have access to the Bretford published portfolio for library, commons, café, training, conference, teaming, classroom and media environments. Most importantly, this new contract helps expedite the integration of technology-enabled furniture into schools and hospitals where it is needed the most.”

“Bretford is a proven leader in the technology-enabled furniture arena and we are excited to align ourselves with this forward-thinking organization,” said Tom Fitzgerald, CEO of E&I Cooperative. “In addition to providing outstanding furniture design options and significant savings, Bretford is also committed to maintaining high environmental standards and supporting the sustainable efforts of our members.”

To become a listed Bretford/E&I dealer, please contact Bretford Regional Sales Managers for more information. E&I members interested in utilizing the Bretford/E&I contract should visit www.bretford.com/contracts/list/cooperative/ for additional details.

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For more information about Bretford visit Bretford.com or call 1-800-521-9614. Bretford can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bretfordmanf. For more information about E&I Cooperative, please go to: www.eandi.org.


MOOCs: A path to early college

Today the MOOC platform Coursera announced a new partnership with 10 major state flagships and state university systems, the Hechinger Report reports. While Coursera’s existing university partnerships focus on professors at elite institutions producing and sharing online versions of their courses, these partnerships are different. The focus is on incorporating existing MOOCs and newly created MOOCs– covering basic intro level and general education requirements–into the universities’ offerings, flipping the classrooms at public institutions, using MOOCs as a catalyst for collaboration on teaching and learning, and to enhance access to credit-bearing programs. One area of innovation that Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller singled out to me is the use of MOOCs for high school dual enrollment programs. “I’m really excited about it,” she said.  “There are so many studies that demonstrate the benefit to students in high school in having access to college-level material. It encourages them to go to college and complete college. But that opportunity has largely been available to the most advanced students at highly endowed school districts that have teachers that can teach college-level subjects. It’s been a very inequitable offering.” Research suggests that having access to college courses doesn’t just benefit the highest achievers. It can give average performers a way to transition more easily into college and a head start on completing their degrees. It can potentially address the needs of the high percentages of public high school graduates who need remediation when they get to college. It could also save money, which is especially important for low-income students.

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Has the MOOCs backlash begun?

San Jose State university system now stands at the forefront of making deals with private sector start-ups to package lectures from Ivy League professors and opening some for-credit classes to the masses, The Australian reports. Now, a counterrevolution is underway. In recent weeks, humanities professors – feeling the withering of their departments and fearing virtual demotions – have begun to resist calls to abandon traditional teaching methods. In an open letter to a Harvard University professor who offered San Jose State his online social justice course, California State philosophy professors argue that momentum is building to dismantle college as we know it, a concern echoing through academic halls nationwide. “Let’s not kid ourselves; administrators at the CSU are beginning a process of replacing faculty with cheap online education,” the philosophy faculty wrote in a letter to Harvard professor Michael Sandel. … Traditional classes are just fine with Ryan Brewer, a philosophy minor at San Jose State who said the interaction with his professor and classmates is what college is about. Online lectures feel “like a hand-me-down education,” he said. ”’Here, watch this video.’ ”

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10 state universities join Coursera in deals that could grant credit for MOOCs

SUNY and the University of Kentucky are among the new Coursera partner schools.

In a departure from its collaborations with more elite institutions like Stanford and Princeton, massive open online course (MOOC) provider Coursera announced Thursday that it was partnering with 10 state university systems and public flagship institutions.

The deals have the potential to transform Coursera’s content from the free online courses the company is known for to courses that could actually carry college credit.

“With this announcement, we take a step further in our goal to expand quality education to all,” Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera, stated in the announcement.

The universities involved in the new partnerships are State University of New York (SUNY), the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee systems, the University of Colorado system, the University of Houston system, University of Kentucky, University of Nebraska, University of New Mexico, the university system of Georgia, and West Virginia University.

While the exact details of each deal differ depending on the institution, the central goal of the arrangements are similar.

“At the core of these partnerships is the motivation to encourage new methods and enhance previous approaches to teaching both on-campus and online,” Coursera stated. “Faculty teaching at these institutions will have the opportunity to develop online courses as well as adapt existing MOOC content, which they can then incorporate into their own classrooms.”

The partnerships would also allow universities to reach out to high school students with their courses, and easily share data and course materials across an entire system in ways similar to learning management systems.

See Page 2 for how students could earn college credit for MOOC courses.


10 popular, banned books

Reading is still a central part of learning, and with the current emphasis on eBooks and 21st century learning in school and campus libraries, it’s hard to imagine any book under restriction. Nevertheless, every year, more books are placed on the American Library Association’s (ALA) “challenged” books list.

For many children and young adults, there is no greater pleasure then becoming lost in fictional worlds characterized by colorful people and settings of times past or future…and if there happens to be curse words or a scandalous event, well, that’s all part of the narrative.

Yet, many parents and school and campus staff take exception to some fictional works, presenting “challenges”­­—formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness—through the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

This year (2013), though Fifty Shades of Grey placed at No.4 on the ALA’s challenged books list, a children’s book for bathroom training, The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, topped the list at No. 1, while And Tango Makes Three, a story of a child growing up with two same-sex parents, is one of the most challenged children’s books in history—reminding book lovers everywhere that if there’s one genre of book people scrutinize the most, it’s those meant for children and young adults.

In this list, you’ll find 10 of the most widely banned books, some more recent and some old, that are also the most likely to be removed from school and library shelves.

(Next page: 10 banned books)


Datamark and NoahIQ Make it Easier for Institutions to Immediately Connect with Prospective Students Online Via Live Video

Salt Lake City, UT – May 30, 2013 – Datamark, the leader in data-driven enrollment marketing, has partnered with NoahIQ, the leader in cloud-based virtual communication systems for educational institutions. The collaboration enables Datamark’s customer institutions to communicate in real-time with prospects and students via live video, audio or text. Using NoahIQ analytics and systems, institutions not only contact prospective students first using virtual world technologies but, even more importantly, create a lasting professional and friendly first impression.

“More than ever, it’s critical to connect with prospective students and existing students in a manner that creates mutual trust and confidence. Engaging them quickly at the very moment they are interacting with an institution’s brand and expressing interest is key,” said Tom Dearden, CEO of Datamark. “It can help build meaningful relationships with students and shows a level of support that distinguishes their institution from others.”

When prospective students submit an inquiry online or visit an institution’s website, NoahIQ provides opportunities for representatives to immediately communicate via live video, audio and text. Not only can representatives speak face-to-face with prospects and students, they can share custom content including enrollment documents, videos, web links and more. Faculty, financial aid staff or other institutional representatives also can join the virtual communication. NoahIQ not only sets a new standard for communicating with prospective students, but also with students, graduates and more.

Mark Evans, President of NoahIQ stated, “NoahIQ provides institutions with the capability to focus their efforts on effective communication and collaboration with prospective students rather than endless hours of dialing the phone. More effective conversations with prospective students provide opportunities to engage at critical points throughout their educational journey. Most are tired of what appears to be telemarketing efforts. I believe everyone prefers a professional and friendly face-to-face chat.”

NoahIQ uses rule-based analytics and other methods to create a virtual world connection at the right moment. Its one-of-a-kind intelligence identifies a prospect’s device type and captures user browsing and search data history. This level of insight allows schools to deliver a more personalized experience despite the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of prospective students and others might be visiting their website at any given time.

Datamark is working with its clients to implement NoahIQ, which only requires an internet connection, web browser and webcam. Datamark is also providing its clients with initial and ongoing training and support. The collaboration with NoahIQ is part of Datamark’s ongoing strategic plan to provide the highest level, cutting edge digital media solutions to its clients.

About Datamark

Since 1987, Datamark (www.datamark.com) has delivered innovative, data-driven marketing exclusively to higher education. The company provides marketing advisory research services, full-service lead generation and management, and conversion marketing solutions designed to reach, engage and motivate prospective students. Focusing on performance and visibility into the student enrollment cycle, Datamark helps schools drive higher return on their marketing investment.

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MOOCs: What university CIOs really think?

Can a university dependent on convincing students and their parents to part with tuition dollars afford to participate in a movement that says online education should be free? On the other hand, can a university that wants to stay relevant afford not to? Those were the questions in the air when CIOs representing about 40 institutions gathered to discuss massive open online courses, or MOOCs, at the The Higher Education Technology Forum in San Diego, an invitation-only event organized by Consero, Information Week reports. “When I started last July, online education was the last thing on my mind,” Amherst College CIO Gayle Barton said. Amherst is a small liberal arts college in Amherst, Mass., known for small class sizes and faculty-student research collaboration. Yet after Amherst was approached first by 2U (formerly 2tor) and then Coursera, she felt responsible to investigate other options. She approached edX, the non-profit started by MIT and Harvard, that so far supports a relatively exclusive club of a dozen universities, as well as Udacity, which like Coursera is a for-profit company. 2U offers a cloud-based online education platform that allows schools to charge tuition.

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Vanderbilt University creates institute devoted to digital learning, MOOCs

Vanderbilt University has created a new institute that will study MOOCs and other forms of online learning.

As the conversation surrounding massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other means of online learning gets louder, many universities are still trying to sort through the noise and find the most effective ways to implement the evolving MOOC technology.

Now Vanderbilt University has created a new institute that it hopes will begin to cut through the MOOC hype.

The Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning will focus on creating a strategy for how to best use the online courses offered through the university and through MOOCs, according to an announcement. It will manage Vanderbilt’s partnership with MOOC provider Coursera and the content it creates for the MOOC platform.

The new MOOC initiative, which will be housed in the university’s Alumni Hall, will also study online learning and MOOCs in a broader sense, encouraging faculty and students to research digital resources.

The institute will be led by Douglas Fisher, an associate professor of computer science and computer engineering at the university’s School of Engineering.

“As a research institution of incredible distinction and breadth, Vanderbilt is uniquely positioned to have an impact in digital learning,” Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos stated. “With this new institute and Doug’s leadership, we will explore how to best leverage and shape these tools to increase our own students’ engagement and exposure into research and discovery, and also to bring the knowledge generated by our faculty to traditional and non-traditional students around the globe.”

See Page 2 for more details on the man leading the new institute.