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….”

 

Finding and Using the Good Stuff: Open Educational Practices for Developing Open Educational Resources | Christian Hilchey

Finding and Using the Good Stuff : Open Educational Practices for Developing Open Educational Resources by Christian Hilchey

part of book:  Open Education and Second Language Learning and Teaching (Feb. 2021, De Gruyter)

Abstract: “Open educational resources (OER) are the concrete products of various open educational practices (OEP). As such, OER are typically more visible and better understood than OEP. Thus, the goal of this chapter is to make the hidden, tacit knowledge of OEP more apparent to L2 specialists who may wish to design their own OER. In particular, this chapter seeks to describe and demonstrate two OEP that are central to the development of OER: (1) how to find high-quality open content; and (2) how to adapt open content for the creation of user-generated materials. The chapter begins by demonstrating effective methods for finding rich and usable open media. This section summarizes the a ordances of different search engines and media repositories (e.g. Google, Flickr, Forvo, Pixabay, YouTube, Vimeo). Next, useful strategies for developing elements of a language curriculum based on openly licensed content are described. The chapter ends with a discussion of the pros and cons of technologies for the creation of OER content….

this chapter describes the various OEP that I learned through trial and error during the development of Reality Czech, an OER developed at the University of Texas at Austin under the auspices of the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL)….”

 

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….”

2U Buys edX for $800M, In Surprise End to Nonprofit MOOC Provider Started by MIT and Harvard | EdSurge News

“When MIT and Harvard University started edX nearly a decade ago, it was touted as a nonprofit alternative to for-profit online course providers. Today, the universities announced that they are selling edX to one of those for-profit providers for $800 million.

edX had fallen behind rivals like Coursera, a similar platform founded by Stanford University professors, in fundraising and reach, though it still boasts 35 million users and more than 3,000 courses….

What happens now is a bit complicated….

In the end, 2U officials said in a statement that they have pledged to:

Guarantee affordability through the continuation of a free version of online courses
Protect the intellectual property rights of faculty and universities that contribute courses
Protect the privacy of individual data for all learners who use the edX platform
And contribute to the ongoing development of the open-source Open edX platform that the universities will continue to oversee. …”

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?

TechCrunch 2U set to acquire nonprofit edX for deal north of $600M | TechCrunch

2U, a SaaS platform that helps nonprofits and colleges run online universities, plans to acquire all the assets of Harvard and MIT-founded edX for a deal north of $600 million, according to multiple sources. 2U did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and it’s unclear if this is an all-cash deal. The combined forces of edX and 2U could reach over 50 million learners.

Update: 2U confirmed the deal, expected to close within 120 days subject to regulatory and governmental approvals, in a press release post-publication. It also confirmed that the price of the acquisition which will be an $800 million all-cash deal.

Open Education Challenge Series – Bite-Sized Learning for the Busy Educator

BCcampus is hosting an open education challenge series for educators interested in learning more about open education practices (OEP). This series is a fun way to get a taste of  OEP – over the course of 5 days we will release 2 challenges per day.  A challenge is a micro activity that you can do in 10 minutes or less that will cover a small aspect of open education.

UC should implement open-source textbook program

“Many students often opt not to purchase a textbook due to its financial burden or to avoid the situation of buying a textbook only to barely use it throughout the semester. Students’ access to textbooks can have a tremendous impact on their success in their classes, yet many students have to choose between purchasing textbooks and other necessities. Overall, success should not be determined by one’s financial status or access to textbooks.

CalPIRG’s push to implement an open-source textbook program in the UC system is grounded in alleviating a major financial hurdle in higher education by making textbooks free and readily accessible. Such efforts would thus aid California’s advancement toward a more equitable education system.

The university can lead this movement and live up to its standards of accessibility and diversity by implementing an open textbook program. The program could incentivize faculty to use open education resources in the classroom that make textbooks free and accessible to all UC students. We ultimately call on the regents to join us in helping to make academic success a reality for more students instead of a dream crushed by the weight of financial burdens.”

MOOC « Science ouverte » (open science)– DoRANum

From Google’s English:

MOOC “Open Science”

Pierrette Paillassard
June 1, 2021 
No Comment
No Likes
In News , Training

“Led by a mixed team from the libraries of Sorbonne University and the National Museum of Natural History, this MOOC, completely free, is primarily intended for doctoral students, especially those of the Alliance Sorbonne University. However, it will be open to everyone.
Its achievement follows the commitment made by Sorbonne University in the  Charter for free access to publications , to train all its doctoral students in open science.
Scheduled for release in the fall of 2021 on the FUN (France Université Numérique) platform, all MOOC content will be under a CC-BY license and therefore freely reusable, in particular by other higher education and research institutions ”.”

How Open Education Enables Culturally Responsive Teaching | Faculty Focus

“One way around this challenge of finding culturally relevant learning materials is to look to open educational resources (OER). Guided by the idea that high-quality materials should be available to—and reflective of—anyone, OER are free for educators and students to use, customize, and share. Because OER are customizable, they give educators the flexibility to incorporate voices, examples, and activities that reflect their students’ backgrounds and realities. They also allow students to contribute to educational content, bringing in their own experiences and knowledge….”

LPC welcomes a new member: the University of Oklahoma | Library Publishing Coalition

“University of Oklahoma (OU) Libraries offers journal hosting for faculty-driven, open access publications. Their scholarly publishing services team – Jen Waller, Nicholas Wojcik, Sara Huber, and Catherine Byrd – works with OU-affiliated stakeholders to create new journals or migrate existing journals to their library-hosted OJS platform. OU Libraries provides a suite of services to seven (very soon to be nine) journals and are committed to hosting journals that cover diverse, unique, and underrepresented fields and topics. The team also works on OER publishing and supporting OU’s institutional repository, SHAREOK.”

PIJIP and Wikimedia Germany Co-Host RightsCon 2021 Panel – American University Washington College of Law

“PIJIP Director Sean Flynn co-hosted a panel titled Access to Digital Education in the Time of COVID-19: Copyright and Public Health Emergencies as part of RightsCon 2021. He hosted the discussion with Justus Dreyling, the project manager of international regulation with Wikimedia Germany.

The panel focused on the impact of inadequate copyright rules on access to and use of educational materials in digital setting as well as how new legal instruments at the international level could solve these problems and facilitate access to knowledge….”

Opening up Educational Practices through Faculty, Librarian, and Student Collaboration in OER Creation: Moving from Labor-intensive to Supervisory Involvement | Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Abstract:  This article presents a case study for transitioning library-led open-educational resources (OER) initiatives away from labor-intensive activities to a model where library personnel focus on project management responsibilities. This shift from labour-intensive activities, such as workshops and training sessions, led to more collaborative partnerships with faculty and students to produce OER projects. In particular, we focus on labour implications for the various stakeholders involved and the sustainability of these initiatives. We describe several initiatives undertaken by the Ohio University Libraries to encourage open educational resource adoptions and projects, including a grant-funded initiative to provide support services for faculty creating OER. That funding, which was awarded to enhance undergraduate education, has been used to support the development of five OER projects that have directly involved students in the creation of those materials. We provide an overview of the various ways in which students have become involved in OER creation in partnership with faculty and librarians and discuss the impact these partnerships have had on student-faculty-librarian relationships and student engagement. Among these projects are an Hispanic linguistics open textbook created using only student-authored texts, student-generated test banks to accompany existing OER materials for a large-enrollment art history course, and several other projects in which hired student assistants are helping faculty to develop content for open textbooks. This article helps to address a gap in the literature by providing transparency regarding the personnel, costs, and workflow for Ohio University Libraries’ OER initiatives and addressing potential areas of concern surrounding student labour. 

 

Supporing MIT’s wider mission through OpenCourseWare | by MIT Open Learning | MIT Open Learning | Jun, 2021 | Medium

“When Abhay Parekh, who earned his doctorate in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1992, first heard of MIT OpenCourseWare, he immediately recognized the potential of the program. “Having grown up in India, I didn’t really feel as a high school student that I had access to all the information that I wanted. If I had the opportunity to take advantage of something like OpenCourseWare I would have had way more fun learning.”

Parekh became an early supporter and member of the OCW External Advisory Board in the early 2000s, directing his gift to help establish a pipeline of faculty contributions from the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department to the OCW platform. He quickly saw the value of video and multimedia for students and independent learners alike coming to the OCW site.

Today, Parekh is an Adjunct Professor of EECS at U.C. Berkeley, and still an avid user of OCW. As part of our 20th anniversary, we asked him to look back on his experience with OCW over the years, and why it still matters for learners and alumni today….”