Harvard, MIT edX windfall funds bold vision, few specifics

“Almost two years ago, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sold edX, their pioneering massive open online course provider, to 2U, an online program management company. At the time, many in higher ed argued that edX’s sale to a for-profit company undermined its nonprofit mission to expand access to learning. Also, some of edX’s original investors and dues-paying university partners were concerned about not getting a cut of the $800 million that 2U paid Harvard and MIT.

But Harvard and MIT celebrated the windfall at the time as a way to fund a nonprofit “reimagining the future of learning for people at all stages of life, addressing educational inequalities, and continuing to advance next generation learning experiences and platforms.” (EdX’s sale garnered the two institutions a tenfold return on their combined $80 million investment.) Now, the universities have followed through on that promise with their recent announcement of the Axim Collaborative. The new nonprofit was funded from edX’s sale and aims to improve educational outcomes and employment pathways for underserved students….”

Harvard and MIT Launch Education Nonprofit Using Proceeds From edX Sale, Tap Stephanie Khurana as CEO | News | The Harvard Crimson

“Stephanie R. Khurana will serve as chief executive officer of Axim Collaborative, a new nonprofit launched by Harvard University and MIT, the organization announced in a press release Thursday morning.

Axim Collaborative, previously known as the Center for Reimagining Learning, is a nonprofit created by the two universities using proceeds from their sale of the jointly owned education platform edX. An online learning initiative started by Harvard and MIT in 2012, edX was sold to Maryland-based tech startup 2U, Inc. for $800 million in 2021.

Axim aims to make learning more accessible, effective, and engaging by building on edX’s “commitment to educational equity,” according to the press release. The nonprofit will focus initial efforts on supporting post-secondary education for underserved groups….”

An open-access laboratory medicine course for medical students – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  The senior author created a 2-week online laboratory medicine course for fourth-year medical students to meet an unmet need at our institution for a brief survey course of clinical pathology in an online format. The course includes online videos, reading assignments, study questions, and a rubric for written assignments that apply the key principles to topics that are customized based on the specialty interests of each student. Anonymous course evaluation surveys were completed by 42 of 60 students (70%), and 92% of respondents stated that they strongly agree with the quality metrics statements in the survey. The complete course materials are shared in this article in the spirit of open access and may be used for medical students, pathology residents, and other learners.


Open Science course available on new knowledge platform | NWO

“NWO teamed up with the Research Council Norway (RCN) and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) to create an open science course. This course was offered last year to employees of NWO and RCN. Its content is now available to anyone through an open knowledge platform set up by CWTS….”

UMass Amherst Libraries Announce Publication of Open-Access Peregrine Falcon Curriculum

“The University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce the publication of The UMass Amherst Libraries Falcon Curriculum: An Open Source, Common Core PreK-12 Curriculum on Peregrine Falcons, by Lauren Weiss, Associate Editor, Digital Content, UMass Amherst Libraries, and Margaret Krone ’12MS, ’25PhD (College of Education). It is the first open access textbook developed and published fully by the Libraries.

The curriculum is an open educational resource (OER), meaning that it is freely available to anyone, anywhere, to use and adapt. The lesson plans are mapped to the Common Core, a set of educational standards for teaching and testing between pre-kindergarten and 12th grade, which allows teachers to incorporate them into their curricula more easily….”

The Design and Delivery of an Astrobiology Massive Open Online Class | Astrobiology

Abstract:  MOOCs, or massive open online classes have reached hundreds of millions of people around the world in the past decade with a model of free open access learning. They are an excellent vehicle for delivering science to lifelong learners. Building on experience in designing astronomy MOOCs for Udemy and Coursera, we have created an astrobiology MOOC for Coursera called “Astrobiology: Exploring Other Worlds” that launched in April 2019. As of early 2022, about 9000 people have started the course, and nearly 10% of those have completed it. The average user rating is 4.9 out of 5. The core content is 10?h of video lectures, divided into six modules, which cover the possibilities of life in the Solar System, the search for exoplanets, the concept of habitability, the definition of life and basics of biology, evolution of life on Earth, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Pedagogy was designed around clear learning objectives and includes quizzes, writing assignments, and a final project that draws on all the concepts presented in the course where students design their own mission to characterize exoplanets. In this study, we describe the design, implementation, and subsequent success of our 2019 astrobiology MOOC.


The Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory

“With the success of open access publishing, Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and open education practices, the open approach to education has moved from the periphery to the mainstream. This marks a moment of victory for the open education movement, but at the same time the real battle for the direction of openness begins. As with the green movement, openness now has a market value and is subject to new tensions, such as venture capitalists funding MOOC companies. This is a crucial time for determining the future direction of open education.

In this volume, Martin Weller examines four key areas that have been central to the developments within open education: open access, MOOCs, open education resources and open scholarship. Exploring the tensions within these key arenas, he argues that ownership over the future direction of openness is significant to all those with an interest in education….”

Preprints and Publishing in the Life and Biomedical Sciences: | Syllabus Home

“Communicating the work we do as researchers to the scientific community is fundamental to the advancement of science. The traditional mode of communication is through the formal publication of a written manuscript in a scholarly journal that documents the rationale, methods, results, and interpretation of the findings. This process entails 1) the submission of your manuscript to a relevant journal, 2) the decision by Editors at the journal on whether to accept the manuscript for further review by experts in your field (Peer Reviewers), 3) the decision by the Editors, informed by the Peer Reviewers’ recommendations, on whether to accept your manuscript for publication, 4) the preparation of your manuscript for publication, and 5) the final publication and dissemination of your work to the scientific community. Although this process appears straightforward, the length of time it takes can vary from 3 months to years, directly impacting the availability of our work to the scientific community and scientific progress. This delay often means that the scientific literature is up to 6 months behind current research. Moreover, once published, scientific articles are often held behind paywalls preventing many from accessing the work.

One solution to these problems is to make research articles immediately and freely available to the public at the discretion of the scientists are responsible for the scientific work. These types of research articles are termed ‘preprints’; manuscripts that are posted to freely accessible preprint servers prior to formal peer review and publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Preprints are regularly used for physics but have, until recently, been largely unused in the biomedical and life sciences. Although publishing and dissemination of our research is fundamental to our careers as scientists, how the publication process works, how manuscripts are evaluated by editors and peer reviewers at journals, and how scientific communication impacts progress in science is often not discussed or formally taught during scientific training. This course covers how the traditional journal-based publication process works by outlining how a manuscript goes from written by the scientist to published in a journal with an emphasis on integrating preprinting as an important step within the process. The target audiences for this course are trainees at the graduate level, junior postdoctoral researchers, and the general public who are interested in understanding the scientific process. The course content will broadly highlight aspects of the current publication system and how preprinting offers an avenue to accelerate scientific progress….”

An open-access transfusion medicine course for medical students – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  The senior author created a two-week online transfusion medicine course for fourth-year medical students to meet an unmet need at our institution. The course includes organized and concise online videos, reading assignments, and 100 quiz questions. Assessments include two oral quizzes via video call with 10 questions per quiz chosen at random from the study questions, and two written assignments to describe transfusion reactions in settings that are relevant to the student’s specialty interests. The students were on camera and shared their device screens to minimize the use of external resources. Anonymous course evaluation surveys were completed by 78 of 102 students (77%). Mean ratings ranged from 6.7 to 7.0 on a seven-point scale. We share our experience as well as our complete materials (including quiz questions and free videos) via open access for this two-week online course in transfusion medicine that may be used for medical students, pathology residents, and other learners.


VCU project awarded state grant supporting the creation of free course materials

“VCU faculty are a part of one of only six projects awarded in the Spring 2022 cycle of the VIVA Open Course Grants. This funding, managed by The Virtual Library of Virginia,  supports faculty in transitioning to course materials available free to students, such as open educational textbooks and/or library resources.

The VCU-led project was selected out of a strong pool of applications and received a combined $8,000 out of $127,145 awarded this cycle. VCU was one of nine Virginia institutions represented in this round of awards. …”

Evaluation of Open Access Websites for Anesthesia Education : Anesthesia & Analgesia

Abstract:  BACKGROUND: 

While the prevalence of free, open access medical education resources for health professionals has expanded over the past 10 years, many educational resources for health care professionals are not publicly available or require fees for access. This lack of open access creates global inequities in the availability and sharing of information and may have the most significant impact on health care providers with the greatest need. The extent of open access online educational websites aimed for clinicians and trainees in anesthesiology worldwide is unknown. In this study, we aimed to identify and evaluate the quality of websites designed to provide open access educational resources for anesthesia trainees and clinicians.


A PubMed search of articles published between 2009 and 2020, and a Startpage search engine web search was conducted in May 2021 to identify websites using the following inclusion criteria: (1) contain educational content relevant for anesthesia providers or trainees, (2) offer content free of charge, and (3) are written in the English language. Websites were each scored by 2 independent reviewers using a website quality evaluation tool with previous validity evidence that was modified for anesthesia (the Anesthesia Medical Education Website Quality Evaluation Tool).


Seventy-five articles and 175 websites were identified; 37 websites met inclusion criteria. The most common types of educational content contained in the websites included videos (66%, 25/37), text-based resources (51%, 19/37), podcasts (35%, 13/37), and interactive learning resources (32%, 12/37). Few websites described an editorial review process (24%, 9/37) or included opportunities for active engagement or interaction by learners (30%,11/37). Scores by tertile differed significantly across multiple domains, including disclosure of author/webmaster/website institution; description of an editorial review process; relevancy to residents, fellows, and faculty; comprehensiveness; accuracy; disclosure of content creation or revision; ease of access to information; interactivity; clear and professional presentation of information; and links to external information.


We found 37 open access websites for anesthesia education available on the Internet. Many of these websites may serve as a valuable resource for anesthesia clinicians looking for self-directed learning resources and for educators seeking to curate resources into thoughtfully integrated learning experiences. Ongoing efforts are needed to expand the number and improve the existing open access websites, especially with interactivity, to support the education and training of anesthesia providers in even the most resource-limited areas of the world. Our findings may provide recommendations for those educators and organizations seeking to fill this needed gap to create new high-quality educational websites.

Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences

“Welcome! This website has all the materials I use for teaching research methods within the Psychology major at Pitt. I’m making these materials public, and calling this project Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences (osRMss). I hope that you find the content useful. I look forward to getting feedback and suggestions and to continually improve osRMss over time….”

Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences

“Welcome! This website has all the materials I use for teaching research methods within the Psychology major at Pitt. I’m making these materials public, and calling this project Open Source Research Methods for the Social Sciences (osRMss). I hope that you find the content useful. I look forward to getting feedback and suggestions and to continually improve osRMss over time….”