Coursera: The pivot to corporate learning becomes clear

Last week I had a post in the Chronicle titled “MOOCs Are Dead. Long Live Online Higher Education.” triggered by the departure of Daphne Koller from her day-to-day role at Coursera.

Mr. Ng left Coursera in 2014 for Baidu, focusing on deep learning research. Mr. Thrun stepped down as chief executive of Udacity in April of this year to reduce his day-to-day responsibilities. He is now president of Kitty Hawk, a company focused on the development of flying cars. And Ms. Koller recently left Coursera to become chief computing officer at Calico, a company that researches human aging.

Addressing the question of business models:

So will these changes in corporate vision and leadership change the long-term trajectory of MOOCs?

I would argue that there never was a viable vision for MOOCs in higher education in the first place. The big three MOOC providers’ trial-and-error efforts to find a viable business model are what led to their shifts in strategy and ultimately the departure of their founders for fields outside of education. It may be that making meaningful changes in higher ed is more difficult or at least more frustrating than designing flying cars or tackling the complexities of aging.

With today’s announcement from Coursera, their pivot continues, building on their move over the past year to go to on-demand courses. Coursera is making a big shift to corporate workforce development as described by CEO Rick Levin on the company blog this morning. Continue reading

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Marketing Claims From Adaptive Learning Vendors As Barrier To Adoption

In Spring 2016, faculty, support staff and administrators at Oregon State University met to candidly share their experiences with adaptive learning technology. I shared two different videos from the event at EdSurge in this article.

At one point I asked what people saw as risks or barriers to further adoption of adaptive learning courseware, and two people had very similar responses. In a nutshell, the over-active marketing claims from many vendors could be the biggest barrier. This is somewhat counter-intuitive as over-active marketing is commonly seen as the cause of technology being adopted even when it should not be. Listen to their responses (< 30 seconds).

Continue reading

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College Scorecard: With victories like these, who needs failures?

Goldie Blumenstyk had a fascinating interview with the Depart of Education’s Ted Mitchell on Friday that is well worth reading and / or watching (they have video of the interview along with full transcript). One of Mitchell’s key points jumped off the page for me.

I think it [College Scorecard] was one of the department and the administration’s greatest victories

Really? I can see the consolidation of student loans, a strong focus on college affordability, shifting of conversation away from just elite schools, and significant push on funding public schools as worthy victories to mention. But the College Scorecard – I don’t buy it.

Blumenstyk pushed back on Mitchell, which led to this interesting exchange [emphasis added].

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: I’m glad you mentioned the College Scorecard. I was thinking about that a little bit. It’s probably one of the places where the department had perhaps its biggest defeat, or maybe you might consider it a retreat. We were originally envisioning the Scorecard as a tool for accountability. Obviously, a lot of colleges and a lot of other people opposed that idea. And it became a complicated process even to create the effective scorecard. What did you learn from that process?

TED MITCHELL: So I guess I would have a slightly different interpretation.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: I would imagine. Continue reading

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Changes at D2L: A second-hand view from users conference

As I have described to several executives at D2L, there is an interesting gap between the progress we have seen with the company’s product improvements and the reaction we hear from many of their customers. With the tighter integration with LeaP and the improved usability, particularly in content authoring, I would have expected to hear more customers react to the changes. But when talking directly to many of the institutions using the Brightspace LMS, staff describe D2L as if the company and product line had not changed in several years. What is not clear is whether this gap is due the company missing the mark (and my judgement of improvements not aligning with what colleges and universities want) or whether there is just a lag where it will take time for most customers to believe in and take advantage the new product designs and features.

2016 has been an eventful year for D2L. COO Cheryl Ainoa, a longtime veteran of Yahoo! and most recently Intuit, joined the company in April. Although this move was not advertised through press releases or even blog posts, I believe this is a significant change to how the company operates. This is not the first time that D2L has reached outside the industry for a top executive, as they employed Dennis Kavelman from RIM / Blackberry as COO from 2012 – 2014 (the period where D2L raised $165 million in two mammoth funding rounds). But I have heard that the addition of Ainoa has already seen results internally. And in the ‘keeping work in perspective’ category, founder and CEO John Baker and his wife had their first child right before the Fusion Users Conference. Continue reading

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TechCrunch: “EdTech – 2017’s big, untapped and safe investor opportunity”

David Bainbridge, CEO of UK-based Knowledgemotion, wrote a post on Saturday in TechCrunch titled “Edtech is the next fintech” calling out the huge, untapped potential of EdTech. Thanks to Alan Levine for sharing this one. Spoiler alert:

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The opportunities edtech promises the world’s largest content providers, the biggest educational institutions and any investor looking for a “sure thing” are almost endless. While it might be slightly late to the “digital-first” party, edtech is poised to be the biggest and possibly most profitable digitalized sector yet.

This is exciting! Not only could EdTech be the biggest market sector yet, it is also “also the safest bet for investors”. Oh my goodness, tell me more. Continue reading

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