MOOCs could be a sea change

The arrival of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, has generated a lot of scholarly talk about whether it’s the death knell of the modern university, or at least its ability to educate a large share of the population, The Register-Guard reports.

Some say universities now face the same disruptions that online technology brought to the music industry, book publishing or newspapers.

“There’s no doubt that change is a-coming,” said Kevin Ahern, who teaches biochemistry online at Oregon State University.

Today, MOOCs are available in every subject — from modern poetry to aerodynamics to drinking-­water treatment — and from elite institutions, including Harvard University, Kyoto University and the University of California, Berkeley.

But today, despite some experiments, online students generally can’t get college credit for the courses they complete. The revolution will happen when some universities figure out how to grant credit for the MOOCs that students have taken. Some are experimenting with doing so already.

University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson said universities already accept credit from other institutions through course articulation, a process that measures an outside course against a university’s own course requirements.

Giving credit for online courses is “truly no different,” Gottfredson said. “It’s a question of authenticating and articulating their course as satisfying the requirements.”

Universities nationally may have to put major part of their offerings online because lawmakers are demanding the do so as a strategy to curb tuition increases.

The ideal is that once a course is recorded and posted, thousands of additional students can take it at minimal cost — without the need for building additional classrooms for example — although university faculty and administrators say cost savings may not materialize.

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Mobile study guides crowd-source cram sessions

It’s not uncommon, as final exams approach, for college classmates to pool their notes into study guides. With a new online service, that pool could be made up of more than 4 million students.


The best study guides ‘bubble to the top.’

These “Study Guides” are a new product from StudyBlue, a mobile learning platform that launched in 2010.

StudyBlue provides students with a “Digital Backpack” to store, share, and compare course materials such as notes, flashcards, and syllabi.

The StudyBlue Study Guides takes all of this material from an individual course and aggregates it into one easy-to-navigate package.

“With 4 million students and 175 million pieces of content, we were seeing a network effect happening,” said Chris Klundt, founder of StudyBlue. “Students input their classes into the system with their classmates, create this content, and we can put it all together in a study guide, ordering it by quality and popularity.”

The crowd-sourced study guide can then be updated in real-time throughout the semester, with “push notifications” alerting students when the guide has fresh content.

Join us on Twitter using the hashtag #eCNMobile.


College degree via mobile device?

The definition of class participation has changed for college students at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering.


Nearly nine in 10 students have used mobile devices to study for exams.

The USC engineering program’s Distance Education Network, a model for distance learning in higher education, has enabled students to stream live lectures on their smart phones and tablets, and participate in lecture hall discussions through their various mobile devices.

It’s an entirely new level of anywhere, anytime education, as students can join live class discussions via chat, phone, or voice over IP.

The engineering school, recognized as the nation’s top online engineering program, has 4,000 students this year, about one in four of whom complete their degrees online.

The Viterbi school’s leveraging of student mobile devices is just the latest move toward using tablets and smart phones as an essential learning tool in higher education.

The City University of New York’s (CUNY) journalism program last year required all students to own a smart phone. It’s not a stretch to expect college students to own a web-enabled phone, as several recent surveys have shown.

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #eCNMobile.


Sonic Foundry Agrees to Acquire MediaMission, a Netherlands Enterprise Video Company

One of two announcements that reinforce company’s international market leadership in video communications

MADISON, Wis. — November 21, 2013 — Sonic Foundry, Inc. (NASDAQ: SOFO), the trusted leader for video content management and webcasting solutions, announced today that the company has entered into non-binding term sheets to acquire MediaMission, and to purchase the remaining shares of stock in Mediasite K.K., the market leading education and enterprise video providers in the Netherlands and Japan. With these agreements, Sonic Foundry expects to significantly expand its global market reach in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and accelerate the company’s commitment to enterprise video communications world-wide.

Sonic Foundry, which has seen a 25% growth in international billings, believes the acquisition of MediaMission will provide operational synergies between the combined organizations by leveraging a larger geographic and cloud footprint; allowing the company to better align with customers globally; providing follow-the-sun customer support; and further driving global sales.

“Sonic Foundry’s commitment to a global customer base will provide the support we need to expand our combined footprint in Europe, focus on new product offerings and tailor new business models to drive more business,” said Robert Jan Brouwer, co-founder, MediaMission. “It is our mission to make online video communication easy to use and produce in the enterprise and education. I look forward to this deeper partnership with Sonic Foundry as we work together to realize a shared vision of providing scalable, secure and streamlined video content management solutions.”

MediaMission, founded as a Sonic Foundry partner in 2004, has been a catalyst for the rapid adoption of large-scale, enterprise-wide academic video programs in the region’s largest universities, including TU Delft.

“TU Delft’s Collegerama, powered by Mediasite, is home to 15,000 hours of video, is a member of edX and a model for universities around the world who are looking to realize their campus wide video content management strategies. The program would not be what it is today without the vision and partnership of MediaMission and Sonic Foundry,” said Leon Huijbers, NewMedia Centre, TU Delft.

“Sonic Foundry has always taken our customers and us seriously when we give feedback on how we use Mediasite here in Europe. They take time to listen and understand our specific requirements and we see our feature requests come into the product update after update,” said Tom van Buren, co-founder, MediaMission. “We look forward to having the opportunity to work even more closely with the dedicated, passionate and talented technical team at Sonic Foundry to bring more exciting improvements to products and services that are geared to our European market.”

“Working beside MediaMission for the past decade has been a true honor, and we look forward to welcoming them as part of our team,” said Gary Weis, Chief Executive Officer, Sonic Foundry. “Robert Jan’s and Tom’s leadership and innovation have enabled MediaMission to redefine academic and enterprise video in the Netherlands, and the company shares our vision of creating world-class customer experiences as we take on new global markets.”

Sonic Foundry will pay €1.1 million for all the outstanding stock in MediaMission Holding B.V., comprised of €330,000 cash, €495,000 subordinated note payable over three years and €275,000 in shares of Sonic Foundry stock. MediaMission recorded revenues for the year ended December 31, 2012 of €1.3 million with pretax income of €32,000. Had the acquisition of MediaMission occurred on or before January 1, 2012, Sonic Foundry would have recorded approximately $1.0 million of additional revenue, during the calendar year ended December 31, 2012. Additional details will be found in Sonic Foundry’s Annual Report on Form 10-K, which will be filed in December 2013. The transaction, which is subject to execution of a definitive stock purchase agreement and customary closing conditions, is expected to close within the next 45 days.

Investor Webcast
Sonic Foundry will discuss this announcement and its acquisition of Mediasite K.K. during its quarterly investor webcast today at 3:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. ET. To access the presentation, go to An archive of the conference call will be available for 90 days.

About MediaMission
The first European reseller for Mediasite by Sonic Foundry, MediaMission ( is a master distributor of Mediasite for The Netherlands based in De Bilt. In the last decade MediaMission has enabled Mediasite use at more then twenty higher education institutions including 10 universities. Together with clients, partners and preferred suppliers, the company innovates existing infrastructure and assets for the easy production, distribution and use of rich video. Because of it’s wide knowledge of education, information transmittal, IT and comparative media studies, MediaMission is in a unique position to make implementations of large scale rich media presentations possible.

About Sonic Foundry®, Inc.
Sonic Foundry (NASDAQ: SOFO) is the trusted market leader for enterprise webcasting solutions, providing video content management and distribution for education, business and government. Powered by the patented Mediasite webcasting platform and webcast services of Mediasite Events, the company empowers people to advance how they share knowledge online, using video webcasts to bridge time and distance, enhance learning outcomes and improve performance.

© 2013 Sonic Foundry, Inc. Product and service names mentioned herein are the trademarks of Sonic Foundry, Inc. or their respective owners.

Press Contacts:
Tammy Jackson

Nicole Wise


Controlling Technology Costs

Virtualization Campus budgets for instructional technology and other IT costs have taken a hit in recent years—and regardless of how much money is available for these items, campus technology leaders are looking for ways to stretch their ed-tech dollars and get the best possible value for their investment.

With the support of Sony, which has introduced a new lampless projector that can lower the total cost of ownership on campus AV systems, we’ve pulled together these examples of how colleges and universities are saving money and getting better value on their ed-tech systems.


How to clean up your social media for college applications

As members of the infamous Millennial Generation, a lot of us are users of social media websites, The Huffington Post reports.

And it’s not just Facebook anymore -– Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, Instagram and Foursquare are all big names in the social networking world now. While this means it’s easier for us to connect with friends, it also might mean sharing info with unknown users. And some of these aforementioned users could be the people holding your future in their hands: college admissions officers.

“It is always absolutely necessary that students are aware of the content they place online,” says Cindy Boyles Crawford, senior assistant director of admissions at the University of Georgia. Though not all colleges and universities take into account an applicant’s social media profiles, they do have the right to look. After all, it’s information on the Internet, and almost everyone can access it.

“Many scholarships, organizations and companies see social media as the ‘true view’ of a student’s character,” Crawford says. “One could easily be outstanding in an interview, then tarnish the image by an irresponsible post on their profile.”

Jacqueline Murphy, director of admission for the undergrad program at Saint Michael’s College, says that while admissions may not always look at your account, more narrowed organizations like athletic departments and financial aid offices might take a peek.

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Universities diving into Big Data

Educational institutions are increasingly on the case of making sense of growing piles of big data, and the latest data science effort involves UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and New York University joining forces under a program funded via $37.8 million in grants, NetworkWorld reports.

The effort, funded through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, was announced last week in Washington, D.C., at an event hosted by John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Obama administration last year announced plans for a $200 million Big Data Initiative under which programs like this fall.

“Big data is now a super-big deal,” Holdren said. Part of President Obama’s Big Data Initiative, which was announced last year, these collaborations will harness data in all areas to enhance economic growth and job creation, education and health, energy and environmental sustainability, public safety and global development.

Saul Perlmutter, UC Berkeley professor of physics, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory senior scientist and director of the campus’s new data science institute, said the effort will make big data tools available to students and other researchers beyond those involved in traditional big data fields such as astrophysics and physics.

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White House unveils Big Data projects, round two

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Networking and Information Technology R&D program (NITRD) on Tuesday introduced a slew of new big-data collaboration projects aimed at stimulating private-sector interest in federal data. The initiatives, announced at the White House-sponsored “Data to Knowledge to Action” event, are targeted at fields as varied as medical research, geointelligence, economics, and linguistics, InformationWeek reports.

The new projects are a continuation of the Obama Administration’s Big Data Initiative, announced in March 2012, when the first round of big-data projects was presented.

Thomas Kalil, OSTP’s deputy director for technology and innovation, said that “dozens of new partnerships — more than 90 organizations,” are pursuing these new collaborative projects, including many of the best-known American technology, pharmaceutical, and research companies.

… To help train new workers, IBM, for instance, has created a new assessment toolthat gives university students feedback on their readiness for number-crunching careers in both the public and private sector.

Eight universities that have a big data and analytics curriculum — Fordham, George Washington, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Northwestern, Ohio State, Southern Methodist, and the University of Virginia — will receive the assessment tool.

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Thousands of people sign up for online classes they never end up taking

My first massively open online course ended recently, and I just can’t stop asking multiple-choice questions, The Atlantic reports.

Here’s one: Which of the following statements might be true?
1) Two-thirds of those enrolled never showed up
2) More than half of the students earned a passing grade
It’s obviously a trick question since the answer is “both.” The apparent contradiction is entirely dependent on another, perhaps bigger question, one that is often phrased as a challenge—if not to to the idea of MOOCs, to the idea of their value: What good is a class where only 2 percent of the students bother to finish?
Or, to put it a little more quantitatively: What denominator should we use in computing student participation, engagement, and completion in a course like this, when the numerator is going to be the number who passed (in my case, 1,196)?
While there are plenty of ways to answer that, the one I decided to try—in keeping with the modality of a MOOC—was asking the students.
So, halfway through “Understanding Media by Understanding Google,” my Northwestern course on Coursera, that’s what I did.
And though the 302 students who replied didn’t entirely agree, the preponderance of the evidence pointed me to a different answer than any of those I first offered as possibilities. Should it be, I asked them, based on the number of people who watched even one lecture—or all the lectures? How about the number who tried the first quiz? Or should we just stick with that great big enrollment number?

A Breakthrough in Digital Projector Design

SonyWP200Learn about the world’s first 3LCD laser projector, combining the benefits of both technologies in a single chassis. The 3LCD design means you’re not forced to choose between high brightness and high resolution. The projector achieves both, with color and white light output of 4,000 lumens and superb 1,920 x 1,200 resolution. The True Laser light engine means there’s no lamp that needs to slowly warm up or cool down—and no lamp to burn out and replace. It’s good for 20,000 hours of use, reducing total cost of ownership dramatically.