Category Archives: Today’s Campus

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview Series.

Anant Agarwal edX

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #10 – Anant Agarwal of edX

Anant Agarwal edXI have written a few pieces on the higher education landscape including interviews with some of the key players such as the Coursera founders Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng as well as Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U.
Another key player in the field of MOOCs is, without doubt, the MOOC platform edX founded by MIT and Harvard University and launched in fall 2012.

I had the chance to talk with Anant Agarwal, President of edX about the first lessons learnt and how edX contributes to changing higher education in general and its economics in particular.

Similar to other MOOC platforms edX was started under the premise of democratizing higher education and to bring lectures from top professors to students all over the world as well as to allow them to learn at anytime and anywhere. What makes edX distinct however is its nature as a not-for-profit and the pursuit to open-source its platform.

Although we are still early on in seeing MOOCs actually in action and to draw conclusions of whether they are an answer to what the future of higher education online might look like, edX has of course gathered data about how many students take their MOOCs and maybe more interestingly, how many complete the courses.

During our talk Agarwal tells me that some of their most popular courses have been taken by more than 50,000 students from all over the world, and I share his excitement here as it proves that technology is not a hurdle anymore but that one can take a MOOC and thus have access to world-class tuition even if they live in a developing country or remote area. I also agree that lowering the barrier of access to free knowledge and education lets the high-potentials shine, the ones with the brain but not necessarily with the money to afford and MIT or Harvard education. If these or some of these then get accepted by one of the best universities in the world simply based on their successful completion of a MOOC is undoubtedly democratic. However, I’m almost sure that these high-potentials would have also made their way if the circumstances were different. The way would have looked differently but I believe many of them would have found success without MOOCs.

This brings me to what do completion rates look like when we look at MOOCs more in general? The numbers of MOOCs taken solely online are very modest. Agarwal says for edX they are around five percent. Study groups, whether formed online or in the offline world, can help increase completion rates but can’t be seen as the end to the story. edX and the other players have to find ways to make the experience stickier and to help prevent such high dropout rates.

Already today Agarwal sees a significantly higher completion rates when the individual MOOC is part of a blended experience, so part online and part on-campus. The professor of the respective course at San Jose State University saw pass rates increase from 55% to 91%.

The last part of our talk focusses on the impact of many more highly educated people on the job market in the future and related to that the discussion of how much a paid four-year college education will still be worth compared with a MOOC certificate of completion and the ability to prove your skills to an employer.

Quotes to share on Twitter

I can’t imagine a better thing brought to public knowledge than education.

We had ten years worth of innovation happening in education in the space of one year.

Image LicenseAttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by American Council on Education

Today's Campus 9 Andrew Shakman LeanPath

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #9 – Andrew Shakman of LeanPath

Today's Campus 9 Andrew Shakman LeanPathWe speak a lot about making college more affordable. Tuition and textbooks naturally come to mind first. But saving colleges money can also happen through food waste prevention and tracking systems.

For this interview my guest is Andrew Shakman, the CEO and President of LeanPath. LeanPath has been in the business for over ten years and helps its customers reduce their waste significantly and also save on their food purchases through its management tools. According to their website, LeanPath claims that their technology can help customers to reduce their food waste by up to 80% and save 2%-4% or more on their annual food purchases.

Andrew takes us through the process of how the technology actually works as well as the different possibilities of how colleges and universities can reduce their pre-consumer food waste and save money.

LeanPath university customers include among other Michigan Tech, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of North Dakota. Over time the company has become what you could call green.

If you’re looking for solutions on how to reduce food waste and lower the cost for your university or you’re generally interested in the topic you should check out the various resources such as stats on food waste, the regular webinars and other free resources i.e. the savings calculator on the LeanPath website.

It was quite a fascinating and educational talk about a topic we don’t usually think and hear about that much.

Today's Campus 8 Ulrik Juul Christensen area9

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #8 – Ulrik Juul Christensen of area9

Today's Campus 8 Ulrik Juul Christensen area9I have blogged about adaptive learning and interviewed startups on that matter since 2010. Most of these companies offer solutions for math and test preparation such as US startups TenMarks (K-12), Perfect800 (test prep) or European math startup PrepMyFuture.

I also had the chance for two interviews with McGraw-Hill executives. I always find it insightful how big companies position themselves for the future and in which areas those companies see big potential. McGraw-Hill undoubtedly sees their LearnSmart product as one of their key-products to be well positioned for the future of education. McGraw-Hill Education
Edukwest’s Senior Editor Christopher Dawson and I talked with Vineet Madan, Senior VP of New Ventures and I also interviewed Jay Chakrapani, McGraw-Hill’s VP and General Manager of the higher education digital education group.

Therefore, when I got offered the possibility to talk to area9 co-founder Dr. Ulrik Juul Christensen, it was particularly interesting for me to seize my chance and interview the creators behind the LearnSmart and SmartBook products.

McGraw-Hill also recently made a strategic investment in area9 and bought 20% of the company. With its products area9 wants to achieve three key points: create personalized solutions, on a global scale that are affordable.

In this interview, we talk about the state of adaptive or personalized learning in 2013 and whether we have already achieved true adaptiveness. As pointed out at the beginning of this article, I have mostly heard about adaptive solutions in the math and test prep space. I was interested in hearing whether there might be a particular explanation for this, for instance if it is simply easier to realize such a product in the math space than in language arts.

We also talk about the challenges, particularly for colleges and universities, to integrate Interactive Learning Online (ILO) and how long it might take until adoption at large scale (3 years+).

Sean Conway Notehall

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #7 – Sean Conway of Notehall

Sean Conway NotehallIn this episode of the Today’s Campus Innovation Interview Series, I talk with Sean Conway, co-founder of Notehall.

A few years ago Notehall stirred up some discussion around the selling of study notes and guides yet managed to attract a growing audience of students and universities alike.

The startup was then acquired by textbook rental juggernaut Chegg for an undisclosed sum. In the interview Sean talks about the reasons why he and his co-founders started Notehall when they were still in college, how they managed to grow the platform and how it might get integrated in the Chegg platform this year.

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #6 – Chip Paucek of 2U

Chip Paucek 2UIn this episode of the Today’s Campus Innovation Interview Series I talk with Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U.

Many of you may know 2U under its previous name 2tor and the name change and the reasoning behind it is also the first topic Chip and I cover in our talk.

The second topic of this interview is around the announcement of Semester Online, a joint venture between 2U and a consortium of top US universities that aims to bring rigorous undergraduate for credit courses online.

In the “year of the MOOC” this is quite the opposite approach as Semester Online classes will be rather small and cost as much as the ones on campus. But Chip believes that there is room for both

“Our company believes in principle that if the degree program or the individual course is as high quality as the campus experience you should be able to charge the same price.”

In the third part of the interview Chip announces the latest partner of 2U. American University’s School of International Service launches an online Master of Arts in International Relations Graduate program today.

International Relations Online is designed for students who would like to begin an international relations career as well as those already working in the field—from anywhere in the United States and around the world. And there are more partnerships, including international ones coming in the next 24 months.