As many of you know, my son Daniel is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with a kidney tumor at the age of 2 1/2, underwent surgery to remove the kidney and was treated with chemotherapy for 18 months at the Dana Farber Jimmy Fund Clinic. In large part due to the wonderful care he received at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Jimmy Fund Clinic, he completed all of his treatments without a single complication. This month, he had his final follow-up appointment, and is now looking forward to a normal, healthy life.
This year, as we’ve done several years since his treatment, our family is walking in the annual Jimmy Fund Walk to ensure that more children will receive the same amazing care that Daniel received. While we were grateful to take him to his final appointment, we once again saw the shock and anguish of the families of children new to the clinic. With your help, we can ensure that more of these families have stories to share like ours.
Please donate at: http://www.jimmyfundwalk.org/2013/stevecarson
Steve, Lori, Olivia and Daniel
One of the projects I have been advising, NextGenU, just launched globally. My congratulations to the team! Here is the press release:
World’s First Free, For Credit, University-Level Training Portal Launches
NextGenU.org launches globally for World Health Day (April 7) with three courses:
Emergency Medicine, Environmental Health, and Climate Change and Health
Vancouver, BC – Doctors, healthcare experts, students, and researchers around the globe will
celebrate World Health Day (April 7) early with today’s launch of NextGenU.org, the world’s first
free online portal, where anyone, anywhere in the world can access university- and graduate-level
courses for interest or for credit through accredited institutions and organizations. NextGenU is
offering three medical/public health and environmental courses, and is poised to grow full schools of public health and medicine.
“We launched our Emergency Medicine course in March 2012. Our pilot testing shows identical exam
results to traditionally-trained U.S. medical students, with many students preferring our distributed teaching model,” says Erica Frank, MD, MPH, Founder, President, and Executive Director ofNextGenU. “We decided to launch globally around World Health Day, since our first three course
offerings address health, and we already have health sciences students enrolled from 54 countries.”
Dr. George Lundberg, former Editor of JAMA and of Medscape, says, “NextGenU’s model presents
the next great frontier for globally democratizing higher learning, a huge leap forward for education, equity, and health – this unique approach could save countless lives worldwide.”
The World Health Organization states that the world needs over 4 million additional healthcare
providers, particularly in developing countries. Serious global educational resource constraints and remarkable open courseware opportunities mean that heavy use of computer-assisted technology is
required to train these health providers. NextGenU brings top-notch training materials to the
computers of individuals, post-secondary institutions, and other organizations that may not otherwise have the resources to access or provide these trainings.
“With NextGenU, for the first time, healthcare professionals in every corner of the world will have
equal access to first-class learning resources, without economics or geography providing a barrier,” says Dr. Frank. “This truly democratizes advanced education by offering world-class resources to everyone, regardless of place or circumstance.”
NextGenU collaborates with leading accredited universities, professional societies, and government
co-sponsors, as well as funders, including Grand Challenges Canada, the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. All courses are competency-based, and
include knowledge transfer through online, expert-created, and expert-certified resources, along with guided opportunities to observe and practice skills with local mentors and a web-based global peer community of practice.
NextGenU opens a new era of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); while anyone anywhere can
audit classes offered by other MOOCs for interest’s sake, NextGenU is the first site committed to
providing university, graduate-, and professional-level courses for credit and for free. NextGenU’s
uniquely-accredited MOOC model builds on the common practice in medical and public health
schools of students receiving credit at their home institutions for courses and clinical clerkships taken elsewhere.
Lindsay Galway’s public health students are using NextGenU’s Environmental Health course this
semester for their learning platform at Canada’s Simon Fraser University. She reports that “with this type of expert-created, competency-based curriculum, we’re able to provide the world’s best resources to our students for their reading, listening, and viewing.”
Dr. Carolina Segura, MD, Course Creator and Principal Researcher for NextGenU’s Physical Activity
and Health course pilot in Colombia, says, “Our students think NextGenU’s method is genius. Many
can’t afford even the least expensive tuition, nor to leave their homes and jobs. NextGenU allows our scarce teachers and mentors to leave knowledge transfer to online learning, saving their time to provide the kind of skills training for the courses that can only happen in person.”
It should be noted that, in addition to being free of cost and other common barriers, like geography and time scheduling, NextGenU is advertisement-free and carbon-free, using wind-powered servers and carbon offsets purchased for other organizational greenhouse gas emissions.
NextGenU currently offers courses in Emergency Medicine, Environmental Health, and Climate
Change and Health, and most course materials and activities are available in 64 languages through
Google Translate’s integration into the Moodle platform. More than 130 additional courses, covering a broad range of topics, are currently in development, and NextGenU’s educational potential is infinite.
About NextGenU’s Founder
Dr. Erica Frank, Founder, President and Executive Director of NextGenU.org, is a Professor and
Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public
Health, in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Frank received her post-graduate education at Stanford (3-year NIH/NHLBI Prevention Fellowship), Yale (Preventive Medicine Residency), and the Cleveland
Clinic (Internship). NextGenU’s global team began in 2001.
• Erica Frank, MD, MPH, President, EFrank@NextGenU.org, 604 724-5175 (cell)
• Ann Hulton, Chief Technologist, AHulton@NextGenU.org
• Kate Tairyan, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health, KTairyan@NextGenU.org
• Michelle Wruck, COO, MWruck@NextGenU.org
Coursera debates future of monetization – The Daily Pennsylvanian
Reports from the actual event indicate the discussion is really not centered on monetization, but the article sure is:
“I think the excitement surrounding this conference, and around Coursera in general, shows that the profits will come, even if they may not have come yet,” said Law School professor Edward Rock, who serves as Penn’s director of open course initiatives. “When you have a product like these courses that represents an increase in quality and a reduction in cost, it’s bound to make money.”
At Penn, Rock said, about 60 percent of revenue earned from individual courses goes directly to faculty members.
“If a course turns out to be a bestseller, there will be significant revenues that flow to faculty members,” he added. “It’s something that professors think about and care about, because they’re putting a huge amount of time into developing these courses.”
“If you look at similar ventures, the same questions came up there. How’s Google going to get money from searches, how’s Facebook going to get money from hitting a like button?” [Penn mathematics and engineering professor Robert Ghrist] said. “Once you have an interested customer base, then you have something to work with.”
From the Udacity Legal page:
Udacity hereby grants you a license in and to the Educational Content under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ and successor locations for such license) (the “CC License”), provided that, in each case, the Educational Content is specifically marked as being subject to the CC License. As used herein, “Educational Content” means the educational materials made available to you through the Online Courses, including such on-line lectures, speeches, video lessons, quizzes, presentation materials, homework assignments, programming assignments, code samples, and other educational materials and tools, but, in any event, specifically excluding any Secure Testing Materials. Such Educational Content will be considered the “Work” under the terms of the CC License. “Secure Testing Materials” refers to any exams or other testing materials that are used for certification purposes.
Not sure how I missed that. The ND is limiting and raises many questions, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.
I am always interested in ways that the concept of sharing common resources (like open educational resources) does (and does not) translate across cultures. Especially with the recent work we’ve done in supporting the Open Book Project, I was intrigued to come across this piece on the tradition of a physical commons in Arabic cultures:
There was an ancient Middle Eastern tradition of setting aside certain lands, called hima (“protected place” in Arabic), for the enjoyment of local chieftains. Muhammad “transformed the hima from a private enclave into a public asset in which all community members had a share and a stake, in accordance with their duty as stewards (khalifa) of God’s natural world,” according to Tom Verde, a scholar of Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations.
In the seventh century, Muhammad declared the region of Al-Madinah, now the holy city of Medina, “to be a sanctuary; its trees shall not be cut and its game shall not be hunted.” Many of the hima lasted well into the 20th century, when the tradition fell victim to modern beliefs about land ownership.
This echos for me the important role that Arabic cultures played in preserving knowledge throughout the dark ages. I like the idea of a cultural and educational hima in which we all have “a share and a stake”—both access to and responsibility for a vibrant common resource that benefits all.
Never fails to amaze me how truly bad AT&Ts approach to customer service really is. Was talking with a coworker the other day, and he mentioned signing up for MIT’s discount with AT&T. I realized from the discussion I hadn’t seen a discount on my bill for quite some time–long enough that I thought perhaps I’d even failed to ever sign up.
Went to the website to sign up, filled out the forms, and got an e-mail back saying they had a previous application for discount on file, so no change would be made. I contacted MITs AT&T rep and was told a) they will only credit back six months (alright, kind of cheap for their mistake, but I should have caught it), and b) I had to produce proof of the previous application that they already told me they have a record of.
Contrast that to a similar experience I had with USAA, a company I absolutely love. Discovered I was overpaying on my insurance bill and contacted them. They refunded the full two years of the discrepancy on the spot. My eight year old son is already asking me if he’ll be able to use USAA when he gets older. My eight year old.
If the AT&T rep had said, tell you what, you’ve been our customer for 15 years–our mistake, we’ll give you back six months worth of the discount, I wouldn’t be pissed enough to be spending my time writing this. For a couple of hundred bucks in charges they made in error, AT&T has bought a whole different impression on my kids and future potential customers.
Jeff Young has a great piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed today about what he calls the “bandwidth divide” and how most MOOCs require learners to have persistent high-speed internet access. When we created the Mechanical MOOC course, we built it on existing open resources mostly because we though it was the most efficient and cost effective way to do it–by leveraging the investments already made in creating MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenStudy and Codecademy.
We realized very quickly that a lot of additional flexibility came with leveraging these resources. Because they were from mature projects focused on openly sharing their resources and functionality, they had developed alternate modes of delivery to address bandwidth issues:
- the 6.189 course used an open textbook that was downloadable
- the 6.189 course materials (assignments, notes) themselves could be downloaded in a single zip file
- the 6.00SC videos used were downloadable from iTunes U and the Internet Archive
- OpenStudy was launching a beta mobile interface just as the course kicked off
And our learners downloaded the materials is large numbers:
Beyond that, we were able to also leverage the deep investments made in translating these open resources. The text is available in a dozen languages, and the course materials have been translated into Chinese. By building our course on open resources, we saved money and leveraged the work that these projects have already put into reaching audiences working without persistent internet or in other languages. A win-win-win.
- How big is the typical MOOC? – while an enrollment of 180,000 is often cited as the largest MOOC so far, 50,000 students enrolled is a much more typical MOOC size.
- How many students complete courses? – completion rates can approach 20%, although most MOOCs have completion rates of less than 10%.
- What factors might affect completion rate? – the way that the course is assessed may affect completion rates; the completion rates of courses which use automatic grading range from 4.6% to 19.2%, while the rates for courses which use peer grading range form 0.7% to 10.7%. This may present a greater challenge for teaching MOOCs in certain subjects.
- Do more students drop out if courses are longer? – there does not appear to be a negative correlation between course length and completion rate, which is interesting as you might expect fewer students to ‘keep going’ and complete longer courses.
It’s great to see some data on completion rates, and this will certainly stir up more debate on the topic.
But one issue not addressed in the current discussion is who really cares about MOOC completion? Certainly the groups offering them do, and educational researchers do. A fair guess that many non-profit funders do as well. Interestingly, though, some of the data coming out of the Mechanical MOOC Python course suggest that in the absence of extrinsic carrots like credit or certificates, learners may not.
In the eighth and final week of the class, we asked the 5,775 learners who signed up for the first iteration of the Python course a series of end of course questions; we received 21 partial and 61 complete responses. Assuming a survey completion rate of 3% (typical of what we see for MIT OCW surveys) and 5% (really good for an OCW survey) that would suggest a rough engaged population of learners (that is, still reading the e-mails we were sending out to structure the course) of between 2,733 and 1,640 people during the last week of the course.*
One question asked which was the last week of the course out of the eight they had completed. Here’s the response:
At the point of the survey, midway through the eighth week, 12.1% indicated they had completed the course and 13.8% had completed week 7. If we assume 25% attrition from those that completed week 7, maybe 10.4% of the 13.8% would be expected to finish the course. So in very rough numbers, 20.5% of the survey respondents might be expected to finish.
Apply that number to the estimated engaged population of learners above, and we can get very rough numbers of estimated completers: 560 – 336, or 9.7% – 5.8%. or somewhere in the mid to low range of MOOC out there, which might be expected, since we weren’t offering a certificate or other incentive for finishing. Now there are plenty of places to take issue with the above numbers, and since our course set up doesn’t have a solid way of counting course completers, this really should be taken for the back-of-the-envelope analysis it is. But…
What is really interesting to me here is the distribution of learners across the weeks completed. There is a large cohort of students (68.9% of respondents) that reports most recently completing weeks 4-7, which is to say they progressed significantly through the course but most of them were not positioned to finish the course “on schedule.”
How do they feel about this? Apparently pretty good. Granted the n’s are painfully small here, but if you ask how successful they felt they were in the portions of the class they completed, most report being completely or mostly successful:
Further, if you ask whether they feel prepared for further study based on what they had learned so far in the class, they likewise responded largely that they were very or somewhat prepared:
The data’s a little thin, yes, but this would seem to at least suggest that while MOOC providers and higher education commentators wring their hands about the completion rates of MOOC, the learners may not really care that much. If they are learning for the sake of learning, they may be quite content to fit in what learning they can given the constraints of their lives and be happy with wherever they finish up.
There’s a great deal of excitement (and fear) over whether MOOCs will replace parts of the current higher education system, but right now I suspect most of the activity with MOOCs (as has been the case with OER more generally) is in extending educational opportunity beyond the current higher education system. If this is the case, we may need some better metric for understanding student success and satisfaction than completion rate.
* Correlating data point: The week 8 assignment e-mail recorded 1,929 opens through our e-mail system.
I recently heard from Alana Harrington that she is leaving her post as Executive Director for the Saylor Foundation. I’ll be sorry to see her take her leave, as she’s made tremendous contributions to the open education movement though her work there. She’s heading up the search for her successor, so if anyone is interested, the position description is below. Best of luck down the road, Alana!
THE SAYLOR FOUNDATION
The Saylor Foundation seeks an experienced, dynamic, self-motivated visionary leader to take on the position of EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of this Washington, DC 501(c)(3) organization.
About the Saylor Foundation
The Constitution Foundation (DBA The Saylor Foundation) was established in 1999 by Michael J. Saylor, the CEO of a leading business intelligence technology company, MicroStrategy. The Foundation is deeply involved as a leader and innovator in open education. Its initiatives are at the forefront of developing and structuring online open educational resources, with the goal of increasing the accessibility of higher education and driving down the cost of higher education. The Foundation is committed to employing technology as a primary driver in spurring education advances. Read more about our organization and efforts in digital education in the Chronicle of Higher Education and in Forbes.
About the Free Education Initiative
Conceived as a way to organize web-based resources into a comprehensive, coherent, and useable body of courseware, Saylor.org now offers over 270 free online courses to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection. The wealth of material available through Saylor.org, as extensive as that available from a college or university, is founded on a robust architecture and innovative method to build and disseminate free, high quality courses to those lacking access to traditional schooling. Leveraging our resources through experimental approaches layered upon this proven methodology, we engage dozens of experienced professors to build college-level, K-12, and professional development courses from high quality resources available on the Web. We readily partner with other institutions to expand the reach and distribution of our materials, participate as a launch partner of Google Course Builder and utilize I-Tunes University as one of many ways to reach our constituents.
The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will operate under the guidance of and report directly to the Foundation Trustee, Michael J. Saylor, its General Counsel, and Advisory Board .
The successful candidate is an individual who is comfortable with aggressive goals, as well as evolving products and action plans, and boasts excellent analytical skills, a strong attention to detail, and the ability to work well in a fast-paced team environment. As an established leader in the field, Saylor.org affords an exciting opportunity for candidates with an entrepreneurial spirit who like to create and innovate. This person will be expected to think through and ultimately answer mission-critical questions for the organization. This role requires flexibility, as this individual will tackle a wide variety of projects with significant autonomy, and will build relationships internally across “departments” as well as externally.
The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will be responsible for a cutting-edge, open courseware program that has the potential to change the face of education. He or she will develop priorities for the organization based on the Trustee’s preferences, create and implement plans, and coordinate programmatic initiatives, technology, collaboration, and work efforts across the entire project. He or she will develop and maintain effective partnerships with external organizations to foster interoperability and cohesion within the open and digital education community. Directing a staff of 48 Full Time and Part Time Employees as well as over 400 independent contractors, the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will manage the fiscal and human resources of the Foundation. The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will lead the team in identifying targets, articulating core value propositions, closing deals, and growing existing partnerships to improve our product and expand our reach.
This position requires extensive experience in leading and cultivating communities and organizations, evidenced by an impressive professional track record and strong academic background. This position requires excellent leadership and communication skills, understanding of the traditional and nontraditional education systems, knowledge of open education programs and practices, and demonstrated effectiveness in managing staff and resources.
The successful candidate is poised, gregarious, and a natural born leader. He or she is an excellent and comfortable presenter and networker and thrives in the public eye. The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR will be expected to detect changes in the organization’s functioning, culture, and dynamics and make the appropriate changes to enhance productivity while also achieving organizational harmony and balance.
He or she will not only strive to advance the Saylor Foundation’s mission, but will also actively contribute to the vision and thought leadership of the field of digital education and publicly communicate this vision.
Responsibilities of the DIRECTOR will include, but will not be limited to:
1) Oversee the day-to-day operations of the Foundation, lead the creation of a shared vision for staff, the Trustee, and pertinent external groups, and educate others on the future direction of the Foundation and inspire and motivate them to be supporters and advocates;
2) Represent the Foundation and speak compellingly and effectively about the Saylor model, growth and strategic plans at industry events; increase the visibility of the organization and build and maintain long term relationships with key partners and potential donors and advocates;
3) Set a collaborative leadership example for the team while effectively conveying and representing the Trustee’s vision and directives to staff;
4) Advocate among influential constituencies as a driver in the open education movement and the rise of digital education;
5) Work with the human resources and legal team to create awareness of ethical, behavioral, and procedural standards expected of all employees and encourage a transparent culture in which these policies are understood and lived out at all organizational levels; prevent and manage breaches as they arise.
6) Make effective and law- and regulation- abiding decisions in hiring, firing, placement, promotion, termination and compensation in conjunction with the Foundation’s General Counsel and human resources department;
7) Guide cross-team and cross-organizational collaboration while working as a team player and effectively relating to a diversity of individuals with varying strengths, experience, and interests;
8) Establish sound financial systems of accountability, to prepare and take responsibility for the annual budget; manage and oversee all outgoing expenditures and allocated resources to each program and department;
9) Develop and revise a monthly reporting mechanism for programmatic activity in order to report on and keep abreast of, developments and patterns of success/failure.
10) Understand and evangelize the Saylor.org product while developing relationships with target content partners, corporate sponsors AND traditional press and media outlets in order to increase awareness of the Foundation’s mission and status.
11) Travel as required.
The breadth and scope of the Saylor.org project almost defies description — the new EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR must embrace a fast-paced and demanding work environment with constant strategic challenges and moving targets. The organization’s programs and priorities are constantly evolving as is the nature of the industry within which it resides; the successful candidate must be equally as adaptable and not only survive change but embrace it.
1) Extensive executive leadership experience (8 or more years) in education and/or digital education. Academic experience highly desirable. B.A./B.S. required; advanced degree in Education highly preferred.
2) Demonstrated ability to lead, plan, and support a functionally organized environment, with staff working on a wide variety of activities. Ability to forecast, develop and implement organizational initiatives.
3) Ability to think strategically and programmatically as well as successfully manage operations. Ability to set priorities, allocate resources, provide follow-through, assure a well-organized workforce and to provide evaluation of projects and efforts.
4) Superb management skills, and demonstrated ability to lead, motivate and direct both professional and technical staff. Demonstrated success in managing fiscal, technology and human resources. Excellent project management skills, including demonstrated ability to deliver superior results on deadline.
5) Competent understanding of and comfort with embracing technology as an innovative force as demonstrated through professional experience and interests.
Details & Compensation
This is a full-time position. The successful candidate will work at the Foundation’s headquarters in Washington DC. with monthly meetings in Vienna, VA required. Pay is commensurate with experience on a not-for-profit scale and in-line with senior government leadership positions. Health care benefits included for hired individual.
The Saylor Foundation
1000 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 220
Washington DC 20007
p: (202) 333-4005
Massive open online course to share how genetics is transforming our understanding of human biology and disease.
CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 30, 2013 — In the 1990′s and early ’00s, Dr. Eric Lander led the Human Genome Project’s efforts to sequence the entire human genome; now he brings that wealth of experience to a unique new free course that will share how human genetics is answering some of the most difficult questions about human life at its most fundamental level. In the coming decades, scientists will be able to understand how cells are “wired” and how that wiring is disrupted in human diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer to schizophrenia.
The course, 7.00x Introductory Biology: “The Secret of Life”, is slated to start March 5th, and registration is now open. In addition revealing the cutting edge of human genetics, the course also promises to be an innovative educational experience. Developed out of Professor Lander’s 20 years of experience teaching MIT undergraduates, the course has been completely rethought and retooled, incorporating cutting-edge online interactive tools as well as community-building contests and milestone-based prizes.
“Introducing the freshman class of MIT to the basics of biology is exhilarating,” said Lander. “Now, with this edX course, I look forward to teaching people around the world. There are no prerequisites for this course – other than curiosity and an interest in understanding some of the greatest scientific challenges of our time.”
Lander’s materials were also used in the creation of MIT OpenCourseWare’s 7.01SC Fundamentals of Biology, one of our unique OCW Scholar courses. OCW Scholar courses provide MIT course materials in a self-guided format that can be accessed at any time, but do not include instructor support or recognition for completion.
In addition to Professor Lander’s class, MIT has announced two additional new courses to be offered through edX, Electricity and Magnetism by Walter Lewin and The Challenges of Global Poverty from Esther Duflo. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Circuits and Electronics and Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, offered in 2012, are again available in 2013.
About Professor Lander
Dr. Eric Lander is President and Founding Director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a new kind of collaborative biomedical research institution focused on genomic medicine. Dr. Lander is also Professor of Biology at MIT and Professor of Systems Biology at the Harvard Medical School. In addition, Dr. Lander serves as Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which advises the White House on science and technology. A geneticist, molecular biologist and mathematician, Dr. Lander has played a pioneering role in all aspects of the reading, understanding and medical application of the human genome. He was a principal leader of the international Human Genome Project (HGP) from 1990-2003, with his group being the largest contributor to the mapping and sequencing of the human genetic blueprint. Dr. Lander was an early pioneer in the free availability of genomic tools and information. Finally, he has mentored an extraordinary cadre of young scientists who have become the next generation of leaders in medical genomics. The recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, Dr. Lander was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and of the U.S. Institute of Medicine in 1999.
EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders. We’re focused on people, not profit. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.
About MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,150 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 2 million website visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 150 million individuals have accessed OCW materials.