Analysis of Harvard Medical School Countway Library’s MOOC Course, Best Practices for Biomedical Research Data Management: Learner Demographics and Motivations

Abstract:  The Harvard Medical School Countway Library’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Best Practices for Biomedical Research Data Management launched on Canvas in January 2018. This report analyzes learner reported data and course generated analytics from March 2020 through June 2021 for the course. This analysis focuses on three subsets of participant data during the pandemic to understand global learner demographics and interest in biomedical research data management. 

Lazarus & Suryasen (2022) The quality of higher education through MOOC penetration and the role of academic libraries

Lazarus, Flora Charles, and Rajneesh Suryasen. 2022. “The Quality of Higher Education Through MOOC Penetration and the Role of Academic Libraries”. Insights 35: 9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.577

Abstract

The governments of emerging economies have realized the potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs) for enhancing the quality of higher education, but MOOC penetration is still very low in countries like India. This article explores the issues relating to MOOC integration and attempts to identify the key drivers for the adoption of a MOOC-based curriculum. Integration into the curriculum, the MOOC services of the academic library and the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development’s (MHRD) policy and support are identified as the key drivers for increasing MOOC penetration. The article also suggests a direct relationship between the level of MOOC penetration and the quality of higher education in emerging economies. The practical implications for practice and policy are classification of the MOOC services of the academic library and a decision-making model that chooses a hybrid learning strategy for higher educational institutions.

 

An Overseas Ed-Tech Firm Wants to Buy 2U. What Could That Mean for Colleges?

“Byju’s, an ed-tech behemoth based in India, has put more than $1 billion on the table to acquire the online program manager, Bloomberg first reported late last month. 2U is one of the largest online-program managers, or OPMs, in the United States, known for scaling up online-degree programs and teaming up with more than 130 American colleges, including large institutions such as Arizona State, New York, and Syracuse Universities. It’s also the parent company of the online-course provider edX….

The worry among colleges, these experts say, is that if Byju’s wanted to shave costs or focus more on short-term, course-level products, it could scale back that “high-touch” model that many institutions have come to expect in exchange for paying 2U millions of dollars through tuition-sharing agreements. There’s wariness, too, of temporary disruptions that can happen whenever a company undergoes reorganization.

College leaders fear that Byju’s intent is to “use the toehold and cash flow to accomplish some other goal,” and that 2U’s clients will not be a priority, said Clay Shirky, vice provost for educational technologies at New York University, which works with 2U. “That’s what we’re worried about.” …”

‘‘They Didn’t Care’: Inside One University’s Sputtering Online Partnership With 2U’ | Jeff Pooley

Michael Vasquez, writing for The Chronicle [paywalled] a few weeks ago: When a pair of professors stepped down from their posts at Arcadia University this year, without another job lined up, they did so to halt the creation of a physician-assistant program in partnership with 2U, the online-learning giant. […] After the full-time faculty members left, the program director also stepped down — further dampening any hopes of launching the program soon, as a program director must be on the job for 15 months before any accreditor visit. The resignations came several months after the accreditor’s virtual site visit to evaluate Arcadia’s fledgling hybrid physician-assistant program. That virtual visit did not go well. If and when the delayed, staff-less program gets launched, 2U will receive 62.5% of tuition revenue for 15 years, The Chronicle reported. Online Program Managers (OPMs) like 2U are stealth privatizers of nonprofit higher ed, even as they drain dollars from our universities and students. The Government Accountability Office’s mild-mannered May report [pdf] calling on more oversight was followed, earlier this month, by a hard-hitting Wall Street Journal piece (“2U Inc. isn’t a university, but it sometimes looks like one”), so maybe scrutiny of the sleazy sector is picking up. Just in time for 2U’s likely sale to an Indian ed-tech giant. What looks worse than ever is Harvard and MIT’s shameless decision last year to sell edX.  

MOOC: Open Science: Sharing Your Research with the World | TU Delft Online

“You can become a more visible, effective and impactful researcher by sharing your research data and publications openly. In this course, you will learn the objectives, main concepts, and benefits of Open Science principles along with practices for open data management and open data sharing.

Since research increasingly relies on software which is used to model and simulate, and to deal with the ever growing volume of research data, the course will also introduce FAIR software practices.

Citizens participation in research is getting more and more important. The course will demonstrate what citizen science is about, how to stimulate citizens to participate in your research and how to handle (new) responsibilities when implementing citizen science.

You’ll learn to establish links between publications, data, software and methods, how to attach a persistent identifier and metadata to your results, and methods for clarifying usage rights. You will also discover ways to apply these principles to your daily research and adapt existing routines. Finally, you’ll uncover potential barriers to sharing research and discuss possible solutions.

This course will help you grasp the key principles of Open Science, with answers to questions like:

How can researchers effectively store, manage, and share research data?
What kinds of open access publishing are most effective?
How can researchers increase the visibility and impact of their research?
How can the use of social media contribute to the visibility and impact of research?
How can researchers be acknowledged for the research software they write?
How can research benefit from citizen science? …”

A Decade of MOOCs: A Review of Stats and Trends for Large-Scale Online Courses in 2021 | EdSurge News

“In 2021, two of the biggest MOOC providers had an “exit” event. Coursera went public, while edX was acquired by the public company 2U for $800 million and lost its non-profit status.

Ten years ago, more than 300,000 learners were taking the three free Stanford courses that kicked off the modern MOOC movement. I was one of those learners and launched Class Central as a side-project to keep track of these MOOCs.

Now, a decade later, MOOCs have reached 220 million learners, excluding China where we don’t have as reliable data, . In 2021, providers launched over 3,100 courses and 500 microcredentials….”

Development of an Open-Access Webinar Series on Pathways for Global Surgery Engagement for Applicants to US Residency Programs – Journal of Surgical Research

Abstract:  Background

: Global surgery (GS) training pathways in residency are unclear and vary by specialty and program. Furthermore, information on these pathways is not always accessible. To address this gap, we produced a collection of open-access webinars for senior medical students focused on identifying GS training pathways during residency.

Methods

: The Global Surgery Student Alliance (GSSA) is a national nonprofit that engages US students and trainees in GS education, research, and advocacy. GSSA organized nine one-hour, specialty-specific webinars featuring residents of surgical specialties, anesthesia, and OBGYN programs. Live webinars were produced via Zoom from August to October 2020, and all recordings were posted to the GSSA YouTube channel. Medical students moderated webinars with predetermined standardized questions and live questions submitted by attendees. Participant data were collected in mandatory registration forms.

Results

: A total of 539 people were registered for 9 webinars. Among registrants, 189 institutions and 36 countries were represented. Registrants reported education/training levels from less than undergraduate education to attending physicians, while medical students represented the majority of registrants. Following the live webinars, YouTube recordings of the events were viewed 839 times. Webinars featuring otolaryngology and general surgery residents accrued the greatest number of registrations, while anesthesia accrued the least.

Conclusions

: Medical students at all levels demonstrated interest in both the live and recorded specialty-specific webinars on GS in residency. To address the gap in developing global surgery practitioners, additional online, open-access education materials and mentorship opportunities are needed for students applying to US residencies.

Massive Open Online Course to Educate Healthcare Professionals & Caregivers About Alzheimer’s Disease | Innovation in Aging | Oxford Academic

Abstract:  Over 6 million Americans and 50 million persons worldwide are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as it remains the major cause of dementia in the older adult population. Both healthcare professionals and family caregivers struggle with the complexities of caring for individuals with this progressive neurological disease. To address the ongoing knowledge and care gap regarding Alzheimer’s disease among both healthcare professionals and family caregivers, a comprehensive massive open online course (MOOC) was developed and made available via the edX platform. MOOCs are open access and interactive courses offered via the web; they have emerged as a popular, self-paced mode of distance learning. Launched in 2020, the MOOC titled, Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Care, consists of five modules reviewing symptoms, diagnosis, medications, communication and care tips, as well as a module outlining special considerations when the person with AD is hospitalized. While this educational strategy targets healthcare professionals (such as nurses, physical therapists and related practitioners), it is also designed for lay caregivers or anyone who wants to learn more the disease. The course utilizes a variety of teaching modalities and is free. To date over 7000 persons have enrolled from over 140 countries. MOOCs remain an innovative and engaging educational strategy to reach a global audience. More importantly, they can serve as an another outlet to enhance both the competence and confidence of both healthcare professionals and family caregivers by sharing best practices in caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

 

Harvard and MIT to Sell edX for $800 million | Harvard Magazine

“HARVARD, MIT, AND EDX ANNOUNCED TODAY that edX, the two institutions’ 2012 joint venture into online education, would be sold to leading educational technology company 2U for $800 million. 2U, a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ, with revenues expected to approach $1 billion in 2021, is an online program manager. The company provides digital platforms and marketing and logistical support that allows colleges and universities to offer online instruction but does not itself provide degrees. 

As part of the agreement, which is subject to approval by Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey ’92, 2U will own and plans to operate edX as a public benefit entity, which means that in addition to creating value for shareholders, edX will also provide a specific public benefit—in this case, online courses, some of which can be audited for free. Currently, edX offers more than 3,000 online programs. “With the acquisition,” according to a University statement, “2U’s network will expand to include more than 230 partners, including over 185 nonprofit colleges and universities and 19 of the top 20 ranked universities globally.”

 

 

Harvard University provost Alan M. Garber said in an interview that the most important aspect of the match with 2U is that the company will continue edX’s mission. “They have committed to continuing to provide free audit tracks—in other words, free courses—in a wide range of subjects. And there are other provisions of the agreement,” said Garber, “that give us a great deal of comfort” that they will continue to make “great courses available at low or no cost to learners throughout the world.” …”

Three Charts That Help Explain the 2U / edX Acquisition – PhilOnEdTech

“I won’t describe the announcement here but instead list preliminary media coverage and then share three charts that I think help explain why 2U would acquire the edX assets for $800 million. I’ll add some additional analysis on what this deal means for online education in a second post….”

 

2U, Inc. and edX Agree to Industry-Redefining Combination in Higher Education.

“2U will acquire substantially all of the assets of edX—a leading nonprofit online learning platform and marketplace—for $800M in cash. Together, 2U and edX will reach over 50 million learners globally, serve more than 230 partners, and offer over 3,500 digital programs on the world’s most comprehensive free-to-degree online education marketplace. The combined scale, reach, capabilities, marketing efficiency, and relationships of 2U and edX will unlock unprecedented opportunity for learners, universities, and employers worldwide….”

 

The big deal this week in online ed.

“The announcement on Tuesday that 2U will buy the assets of the nonprofit MOOC company edX for $800 million is shaking up the world of online higher ed. It also means I’ll riff on that news for you this week instead of giving you an annotated reading list, per The Edge’s summer programming (back to that next week).

This deal has ramifications in many directions. For starters, it will realign the commercial marketplace for online education, where colleges now pay billions annually to companies known as online-program managers, or OPMs, to help develop, market, and deliver online courses and degrees. The $800 million now headed to a successor nonprofit to edX could also have a huge impact on the future of open-source online options — and maybe breathe new life into the original mission of the nonprofit, which began in 2012 with the goal of democratizing education around the world.

I say “could” because, at this point, we know precious little about what the new nonprofit plans to do with this gargantuan infusion of cash. A joint news release says the money will be “dedicated to 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.” Lofty, ambitious language to be sure. But $800 million is a lotta clams, and I’m sure the hundreds of colleges and thousands of professors whose own financial and in-kind contributions over the last nine years have helped bring edX to this point would love to know some specifics — perhaps even more than I would….”

Three big ed tech projects: cashing out or historic investments?

Over the past few days three big ed tech entities made major financial moves. I was struck by that coincidence and wanted to explore what the combination might means.

ITEM: To start with, major online program manager (OPM2U purchased much of online class provider edX for $800 million. As part of the deal Harvard and MIT will launch a new and so far unnamed education nonprofit.

For more information, here are the official announcements from 2UMITHarvard, and what seems to be the nonprofit’s placeholder, “Transforming Digital Education.”  There is also some good, early commentary and analysis from EdSurge and Trace Urdan.

ITEM: Language learning app Duolingo, founded by Luis von Ahn, filed an IPO.  As  TechCrunch and others have noted, the market values Duolingo above $2 billion.  Its user base and earnings are rising.

ITEM: major learning management system/virtual learning environment provider Instructure, maker of Canvas, also  filed for an IPO. They tried this before, so now it’s a  second attempt.  Instructure is, unlike Duolingo, losing money.

So what does this big money trifecta tell us?

It may be a huge boost for 2U. They now have access to tens of millions of potentially new students.  According to a slidestack for investors, 2U stands to gain:

Increases TAM through combined 50M+ global learner base, 1,200+ Enterprise clients, 230+ university and corporate partners, and comprehensive suite of 3,500+ offerings ranging from free-to-degree

Combined entity will have massive global audience and strong consumer brand, top five education website with traffic of 120M+

They can also trade on the elite reputation of campuses associated with edX, namely MIT and Harvard.

Eddie Maloney and Joshua Kim go further, seeing the 2U+edX combination as a challenger to the much larger Coursera. What we see now are OPMs on steroids.  As Paul Fain put it, “MOOCs have become OPMs.”

Well-placed source on 2U’s acquisition of edX for $800M — “It simply formalizes what we knew: MOOCs have become OPMs.” https://t.co/bLMQC7Au0z

— Paul Fain (@paulfain) June 29, 2021

 

I’m not sure what to make of the new MIT-Harvard nonprofit since there’s so little information available. I do like Goldie Blumenstyk’s comments:

It’s hard to even fathom the potential impact of an $800-million nonprofit devoted to the future of online learning and eliminating educational disparities around the world. Add to that the academic muscle undergirding the nonprofit, overseen by edX’s founders, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the societal, technological, and pedagogical potential here feels enormous. But what actually will be realized? Harvard and MIT promise that the new nonprofit’s mission, name, research, and other activities will be developed more fully in the coming months. [emphases in original]

Even more from Phil Hill here.

Duolingo: much depends on how the sale goes and what happens to its value over the next few months, but a successful infusion of cash could drive the owl into expanding or adding offerings.  New languages are a clear development, but what about adding conversations with native speakers, or even branching out into new curricula beyond language?

Note that criticisms of Duolingo – for not being good on spoken languages, for not doing much on culture and language – don’t seem to have dimmed its prospects so far.

Instructure: Phil Hill does good work in showing the complexity of the offering, based on the structure of Instructure and its holding.  I don’t have a good sense of its odds for a successful IPO.

Overall, these three stories remind us that serious money is interested in ed tech.  COVID-19 may have increased investments as so much of higher ed moved online.  Perhaps that’s a long-lasting change… unless people flee the pandemic’s online experience and rush to embrace in-person life, in which case June 2021 might represent a peak before a financial fall.

What do you think about these three ed tech financial stories?