OpenFiction [Blog]

NextGenU launch

Posted in open education, Open Educational Resources by scarsonmsm on April 8, 2013

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 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, 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, 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.

Media contacts:

• Erica Frank, MD, MPH, President,, 604 724-5175 (cell)
• Ann Hulton, Chief Technologist,
• Kate Tairyan, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health,
• Michelle Wruck, COO,

Maybe not the lead they wanted for the first Coursera Partners conference

Posted in MOOC, open education, sustainability by scarsonmsm on April 5, 2013

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.”

Read the full article.

This I did not know: Udacity available under open license

Posted in intellectual property, MOOC, open education, Open Educational Resources by scarsonmsm on April 5, 2013

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 ( 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.