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.

todays campus 6 chip paucek 2u pic

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.

Mehdi Maghsoodnia Rafter

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #5 – Mehdi Maghsoodnia of Rafter

Mehdi Maghsoodnia RafterIn this episode of the Today’s Campus Innovation Interview Series, I talk with Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of Rafter.

Rafter is offering colleges and universities a management platform that aims to make the whole logistics behind course material and everything related more efficient and therefore less costly.

As Mehdi points out during the interview

“Overall the process of adopting, buying and selling educational content is hugely inefficient. So classicly there has been a lot of waste in that process. And you can see it because everyday a student shows up, buys the book and the price ranges are so varying. You can find the same book on Amazon for $40 and in your campus for $200.

The fact that we are bringing a level of sophistication into supply management and pricing is taking a lot of that inefficiency out of the system. There is a lot of savings for the students in the system. We project that savings in this market should go north of a billion dollars in the next five to six years.

Which is very good news. If you look at the number one reason why students don’t graduate from community colleges and four year institutions is cost. Taking a billion dollars out of that cost structure is a significant saving for the students.”

But he does not expect that change to happen overnight. Mehdi predicts a transition period of five to ten years in which we will see different technologies and concepts still existing side by side, similar to the corporate sector.

“It’s not a homogenous evolution. It’s a very organic and slow evolution in a very large ecosystem. Education is the third largest spending in the US, it’s $1.2 trillion. So it’s a market that will take its time and it will evolve to a better place I think in the future. But it will take a while.”

Today's Campus - Brian Whitmer Instructure Canvas

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #4 – Brian Whitmer of Instructure Canvas

Brian Whitmer Instructure CanvasIn this episode of the Today’s Campus Innovation Interview Series, I talk with Brian Whitmer, co-founder and CPO of Instructure.

Instructure was founded in 2008 by Brian and Devlin Daley out of frustration with other Learning Management Systems and has a clear focus on usability and efficiency.

Now the team launched the Instructure Canvas Network, a product based on the Canvas LMS that enables schools, colleges and universities to setup and manage their own MOOCs. Other than MOOC platforms like Udacity or Coursera Canvas Network allows institutions to define the structure of their courses and the approach to teaching that makes the most sense to them like a smaller online course format with more interaction.

Brian and I also talk about the challenges and the potential impact on the job market and society when more and more people will be able to receive quality credentials and degrees at a lower cost.

todays campus 3 scott hasbrouck ginkgotree pic

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #3 – Scott Hasbrouck of Ginkgotree

Scott Hasbrouck GinkgotreeIn this episode of the Today’s Campus Innovation Interview Series, Kirsten Winkler talks with Scott Hasbrouck, co-founder and CEO of Ginkgotree.

Ginkgotree is a web application that enables professors to create digital coursepacks (textbooks) based on free web content like YouTube videos, open educational resources or other creative commons licensed material and merge it with copyright cleared content from journals, magazines or textbooks in order to offer students custom course materials.

Ginkgotree is also offering a free book scanning service for professors. They simply choose the pages of the textbook they would like to include into the coursepack and then send the books or journals to Ginkgotree where they are professionally scanned and digitized.

This way Ginkgotree is able to cut down the cost of a textbook to about $30 instead of the usual $200 per semester. Ginkgotree partnered with the Copyright Clearance Center to offer the largest choice of copyright cleared content possible.

todays campus 2 steve clark mcgraw-hill tegrity pic

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #2 – Steve Clark of Athens State University about using Tegrity

Steve Clark Athens State McGraw-Hill Tegrity Remote ProctoringIn this interview Kirsten Winkler, Innovation Editor at Today’s Campus, talked with Steve Clark, Associate Director Academic Support & Instructional Systems for Athens State University in Alabama.

Steve explains how Athens State University is successfully using the new McGraw-Hill Tegrity remote proctoring feature and what experiences students and faculty had during the testing phase. Kirsten and Steve and talk about how fraud can be prevented when students are taking tests in remote locations.

Finally Steve gives an outlook on the future of remote testing and online education in general with more and more colleges and universities choosing to offer online programs.

todays campus 1 andrew grauer course hero pic

Today’s Campus Innovation Interview #1 – Andrew Grauer of Course Hero

Andrew Grauer Course HeroIn this first interview of the Today’s Campus Innovation Interview Series I sat down with Andrew Grauer, founder and CEO of Course Hero.

Course Hero’s mission is to help students to get the most out of the education by enabling access to the best academic content, materials, technologies and resources available. Course Hero provides students with the tools they need to increase the tangible and long-term value of their education.