Firefighters battle heat, drought conditions in Brookline barn fire - Yahoo News

Firefighters battle heat, drought conditions in Brookline barn fire - Yahoo News Firefighters battle heat, drought conditions in Brookline barn fire - Yahoo News Posted: 10 Nov 2020 12:00 AM PST The Telegraph Iran diplomat skips trial in Belgium over failed bomb plot An Iranian diplomat refused to appear at the first day of his trial in Belgium on Friday, where he and three others face charges of plotting to bomb an Iranian exile opposition meeting in France that was attended by five British MPs. Antwerp prosecutors accuse Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi and three co-defendants of conspiring to attack a 2018 rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Labour's Roger Godsiff and Conservative MPs Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, Sir David Amess and Theresa Villiers, attended the event in Villepinte near Paris, where US President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave the keynote speech. "Ha

Noodle, online degree enabler, buys parts of HotChalk, a former competitor - Inside Higher Ed

Noodle, online degree enabler, buys parts of HotChalk, a former competitor - Inside Higher Ed

Noodle, online degree enabler, buys parts of HotChalk, a former competitor - Inside Higher Ed

Posted: 20 Nov 2020 12:10 AM PST

Noodle, an (ever-)evolving player in the competitive space of companies helping colleges take their academic programs online, on Friday announced that it has purchased several key assets of HotChalk, a onetime competitor whose biggest client, Concordia University Portland, announced in February that it would close.

Neither Noodle nor HotChalk would share financial details about the transaction, in which Noodle will absorb Creative Communication Associates, a digital marketing firm that had been part of HotChalk, and take over management of the online graduate programs of New York University's Steinhardt School of Education and responsibility for many of Concordia Portland's now-dispersed former students.

But the deal is likely to be part of another wave of consolidation in the marketplace of companies that manage or enable online programs. (Those companies have been called online program managers, or OPMs, although nobody seems satisfied with that phrase.)

For Noodle, the deal represents an effort to expand its network of college and university partners, and to bring in-house digital marketing expertise for its campus clients, for which it has historically used outside contractors.

The purchase is the most recent in a burst of activity by Noodle and its founder and chief executive officer, John Katzman, in which it has also struck a deal with Strategic Education to move into the employee education market. Noodle raised another $16 million in June, for a total of about $60 million since 2015, and on Wednesday it announced that it had combined its Noodle search engine and its Noodle Partners online program network into one organization just called Noodle.

For HotChalk, whose owners include the German firm Bertelsmann, which invested $230 million for a minority stake in the company in 2015, the sale almost certainly represents the end of another cautionary tale in the education-technology space.

In the middle of the last decade, at the time of the Bertelsmann investment, Reuters reported that the company was to be valued at between $600 million and $800 million. But a large chunk of the company's value was related to its partnership with Concordia, which experienced explosive growth in a master's of education program and, as part of its contract with HotChalk, paid the company a significant share of the program's revenue.

The centrality of Concordia to HotChalk's rise was such that the Oregon-based university's folding in February led HotChalk to lay off half its employees and to sue Concordia for $302 million in April. In its lawsuit, the company charged that Concordia had transferred some of its key assets to its parent church, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, days before it closed.

The relationship between HotChalk and Concordia was held up by some critics as the latest example of what they believe are problematic revenue-sharing relationships between colleges and online program management companies.

That perception, among other things, makes Noodle's buyout of HotChalk -- which the latter's CEO, Rob Wrubel, calls a "wind-down" of the company -- noteworthy.

In contrast with HotChalk's revenue-sharing model, Noodle has increasingly aligned itself with critics of those agreements. Katzman, its CEO, has framed his company as an alternative to and improvement on other major players in the online program space -- most notably 2U, which Katzman founded a dozen years ago. Among his early collaborators was 2U's current CEO, Chip Paucek, (That rivalry is strange for a variety of reasons, in part because both companies offer a range of ways for colleges to finance the creation of online programs, so the distinctions are not black-and-white.)

Noodle officials say that while HotChalk's business model may have differed from their own, incorporating some of HotChalk's key assets will help them achieve Noodle's stated goals of trying to drive down the cost of online education for students.

Katzman's company has been an enigmatic player in the online program market. Katzman founded Noodle in 2013 as a kind of "Google for education," as he called it -- a search engine to help would-be learners of all ages find whatever kind of education or training they needed.

Two years later, he launched Noodle Partners, which was designed to compete directly with 2U and other OPMs by stitching together a network of technology and other service providers that agreed to comply with a set of technology and business standards. It took several years for Katzman and Noodle to find their footing, but their number of college partners has grown sharply in the last 18 months.

The HotChalk purchase shows the company's model evolving from a general contractor working with outside servicers.

"We've done a whole lot of thinking about what things should be in-house vs. done outside," Katzman says.

Bringing the marketing team from Creative Communication Associates and HotChalk's senior executives in-house at Noodle will help the company better control how it manages the most expensive part of the online program management process, the recruitment of and marketing to prospective students.

"The easiest way we can drive down the cost of higher ed is by reducing those costs," said Keri Hoyt, Noodle's president and chief operating officer.

The company has begun discussions with officials at NYU's Steinhardt School about transitioning from the revenue-sharing model it used with HotChalk to more of a fee-for-service model that Noodle favors.

"The fundamental OPM model is kind of over," says Katzman, an assertion that 2U's Paucek and others dispute.

Hrubel, who was HotChalk's CEO and will take on a senior role at Noodle, says that many of CCA's traditional marketing clients will now be able to benefit from Noodle's online program services.

And he, Hoyt and Katzman all say they will make it a priority to ensure that the Concordia Portland students whom HotChalk had committed to seeing through to graduation at Concordia's remaining campuses in Chicago and Nebraska earn their degrees.

Hoyt and the others also believe that while a Joe Biden administration -- assuming it comes to pass -- is likely to ramp up its regulatory scrutiny of revenue-sharing agreements and the use of corporate providers in delivering education more broadly, higher education's forced embrace of virtual learning because of COVID-19 will increase the interest of universities entering into the sorts of networks that Noodle and some of the other online program providers are building.

"There was a time and place when going online was seen as tangential and something universities wanted an arm's-length distance from," so they preferred to use companies that were clearly separate, Hoyt says. "The last nine months, universities have embraced this idea that they need to go online, and together we can help them drive down the cost of providing that learning."

The Most & Least Expensive Online MBA Programs In 2021 - Poets&Quants

Posted: 09 Nov 2020 12:00 AM PST

It's a program that offers eight-week courses and multiple start dates throughout the year. It's open to individuals who have graduated with a bachelor's degree in any field from any accredited college or university. And for non-business majors, it includes an eight-week foundation course that provides the working knowledge needed for a graduate business curriculum.

And all that for a lower price — by far — than you'll find anywhere else.

Rogers State University of Oklahoma's customizable, accredited online MBA, an 18-month program, costs just $10,880, less than any of the other 46 schools in Poets&Quants' fourth annual Online MBA Ranking. "Our motto at RSU is Students First," Dean Susan Willis says. "One way we put students first is by offering an MBA program designed to fit your schedule. RSU is an accredited public university with an affordable, flexible, and achievable MBA degree program."

If you're looking for an online MBA from a school in this ranking, you'll find more variety than you can dream of — including price, from Rogers State's $10K degree to $141K at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. At the lower end, including four schools where the cost is less than $20K, the average cost is $20,535; while at the upper end, including four of the top five ranked schools — but, importantly, not top-ranked Indiana Kelley School of Business — the average cost among the seven most expensive online MBAs is more than $106K.


How can smaller schools afford to offer degrees that in many cases take two or more years to complete, while charging one-seventh the total fees? Last year we asked that question of Sandra Richtermeyer, dean of the Manning School at UMass Lowell, whose school slipped to third-lowest on the cost chart despite not charging more for the second year in a row.

"We are very committed to our values as a public university and offering a great value," Richtermeyer said. "We have a very high-quality program at a great value. It's our roots, being the second-largest public university in Massachusetts and one of the fastest-growing in the country. We want this to be a fantastic option for people to pursue a great program at a great value." Leticia Porter, assistant dean at the Manning School, says there is still no plan to increase the school's per-credit charge of $655.

We asked the same question — How can you afford to offer the variety and depth of curricula? — of programs whose costs are in the middle range, starting with the Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Saunders hasn't changed its total cost — $78,000 — in two cycles.

"We're about the middle of the road compared to other ranked schools," the program's director, Marty Lawlor, told P&Q. "Moreover, our tuition includes all textbooks, cases and course materials in addition to all travel and lodging expenses for residencies and international trips. One other difference is that most of our courses have two instructors. When you consider total cost of program, we think we provide value for money. Our students' average payback is just under three years." RIT Saunders' online MBA program is ranked 46th by P&Q this year.

And what about at the top — the No. 1-ranked program at Indiana Kelley, which costs $74,520 — identical to its price in 2019?

"We focus on and invest in key primary areas — teaching and technology-enabled delivery and the online MBA student experience," Ramesh Venkataraman, associate dean for information and instructional technologies and chair of Kelley Direct MBA & MS programs, told P&Q. "We invite the very best of Kelley's faculty to teach in our online program, and we invest in the best instructional technology professionals and learning technology equipment to ensure that our top faculty can deliver their content in the best way possible for students. We also ceaselessly focus on the quality of the student experience outside of class, which includes everything from global and domestic immersions, to having dedicated academic advisors and career coaches who are trained — and excited about — working with our high-performing students."


Four of top five schools in Poets&Quants' 2021 Online MBA Ranking are also the four most expensive — and the only four that cost six figures:

1. Indiana ($74,520)
2. Carnegie Mellon (141,320)
3. USC Marshall ($111,663)
4. GWU ($100,883)
5. UNC ($125,589)

The average cost to attend a top-five OMBA program is $110,795. That's a number that has not increased dramatically since last year, with only two of the five schools (CMU and USC) actually charging more in 2020. But going back two cycles, the average increase has been $7,306, or 7.5%, at the four schools that have seen their prices climb.

Altogether, Poets&Quants has enough data from 31 schools to make year-over-year cost comparisons. Of the 31, 11 schools didn't raise costs; four — UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst, Florida International, Rochester Saunders — haven't raised costs since before 2018. The biggest one-year increase came at the University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business, where the total cost increased 35.8% from $32,883 to $44,640, a more than $11K difference. Other notables: Wisconsin Consortium (up 23.9%) and the University of South Florida (23.8%). The biggest increase over two cycles was also at  Cincinnati Lindner, $10,820 (32%), followed by Wisconsin Consortium ($5,550, 23.9%) and Washington State's Carson Carson College of Business ($8,368, 23.9%).

Not every school increased cost. Three schools dropped their prices from 2019: North Dakota, the Jack Welch Management Institute, and Hofstra University's Zarb School of Business, which dropped $10,818, or 16.6%, to arrive at a 2020 cost of $54,502. Five schools were down in cost over two cycles, led by Creighton University's Heider College of Business, which declined $6,406 (17.2%) to $30,821.

See the next page for a table of costs over three years at all the online MBA programs in our 2021 ranking.

The 2021 Poets&Quants Online MBA Rankings Package











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