Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal

Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal Posted: 29 Jun 2021 04:00 AM PDT Education-technology company 2U Inc., which runs graduate programs for dozens of top universities, is buying web-based course provider edX, a nonprofit founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for $800 million. The deal combines two major players in online instruction as universities around the world push more aggressively into digital offerings. Many schools scrambled to shift courses online when the pandemic shut campuses last year, and they are now expected to build on—and polish—the programs. The sale proceeds will go to a nonprofit, to be run by Harvard and MIT, that the schools say will focus on reducing inequalities in access to education. It will maintain the open-acc

UW Extended Campus adds new certificate program offerings aimed at working, adult students - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

UW Extended Campus adds new certificate program offerings aimed at working, adult students - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

UW Extended Campus adds new certificate program offerings aimed at working, adult students - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Posted: 18 Jun 2021 06:59 PM PDT


The University of Wisconsin System's online learning arm is adding five new online certificate programs to its fall lineup, with the hope of expanding program options for adult learners and working professionals.

Four of the certificate programs are at the graduate level: applied bioinformatics; data science; senior living and services leadership; and sustainability and well-being. UW Extended Campus is also launching an undergraduate level certificate program in health care informatics.

Each program includes four to six courses each. Most are on a semester-based schedule, though they are asynchronous, meaning students can listen to lectures any time without a set class meeting date. The health care informatics program is more flexible, students must complete projects at their own pace in order to demonstrate they've mastered the course material.

While the courses are taken by traditional college students to supplement a traditional degree program, the online programs mainly aim to give adults, especially those already in the workforce, an option to go back to school and add to their skill sets. 

"The goal here is you fit education around an already busy life rather than force a student to fit their life around education," Aaron Brower, executive director of UW Extended Campus, said.

The new programs bring UW Extended Campus' total program count to 27. As universities across the country try to prepare for projected shifts in enrollment, particularly a decline in the traditional 18- to 24-year-old demographic they primarily cater to, reaching more working adults is a key strategy stressed by campus leaders across the state. 

UW Extended Campus does not grant any degrees itself, rather it provides the student support services and guidance to UW campuses that they need to run the online program. Individual UW campuses, sometimes pairs or groups of them, actually develop the curriculum and award the degrees. 

This leads to the chances for collaboration across the state, Brower said. Many of the programs were put together by faculty from two or more universities.

"It's not how things typically work, so there's a lot of inertia," Brower said as to some of the challenges in getting more programs going. "But that's breaking down, people really see the value in these (program options)."

Tuition varies from program to program, but the range for the four semester-based certificate programs is from $725 to $850 per credit, regardless of whether a student lives in Wisconsin. In the more flexible health care informatics program, the tuition is based on a 12-week subscription. Students who want to take on multiple courses during that period would pay $2,250 but those who only want one class per subscription period would pay $1,125.

UW Extended Campus currently enrolls about 6,000 students. Brower said the programs have seen consistent growth over the past five to six years, between 8% to 14% each year. Brower said he'd like to see UW Extended Campus get to about 40,000 students, with a focus on students in the state and upper Midwest region.

With online learning on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, he added, campuses have been learning first-hand that expanding these programs and collaborations between universities is well-within reach.

"The one thing that (the pandemic) did do is it helped campuses recognize that they too could really jump into the online world," Brower said.

Contact Devi Shastri at 414-224-2193 or DAShastri@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DeviShastri.

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.

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Remote working impact? Online degrees are here to stay - Moneycontrol.com

Posted: 18 Jun 2021 07:54 PM PDT



Thirty-five-year-old Varun Khosla, a software consultant from Pune wouldn't have considered studying online. But he quickly realised amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working, staying relevant to the business was key to being employed.

"I wasn't keen on doing these certification programmes because most employers seek degrees. Coincidentally the government also permitted online degrees. So I decided to enrol for an online MBA programme," he added.

In May 2020, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the top 100 universities in India would be allowed to offer online degree programmes. This was to improve accessibility and also provide affordable courses.

Now, with extended study from home and work from home, online degrees are getting more popular.

A typical full-time offline MBA degree could cost between Rs 15 lakh to 40 lakh depending on the institute. In contrast, an online degree programme would cost between Rs 2 lakh to 4 lakh for the two-year course.

Following the announcement by the FM, online education firm upGrad  announced a slew of e-degree programmes in June 2020. This included BBA, MCA, MBA with Jamia Hamdard University, a one-year LLM in Corporate & Financial Law and a two-year MBA in Digital Finance and Banking with OP Jindal Global University.

Many other educational institutes soon began offering these online degrees.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras launched an online Bachelors of Science (BSc) programme in Programming and Data Science that has the flexibility to be a degree course as well as a diploma course. A learner has to successfully complete all three levels to get a BSc Degree in Programming and Data Science from IIT Madras.

The full fees for the course (Degree) would be Rs 2.42 lakh. If a student choses to go for a diploma, the fee would be Rs 1.1 lakh.

Among the newer online degrees are the ones by edtech firm Great Learning in partnership with JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) that include MBA, MCA and BBA and MBA with Shiv Nadar University.

Similarly, Imarticus Learning has launched an online BBA programme in Banking and Finance with JAIN (Deemed-to-be University).

So, what works?

Arjun Nair, co-founder, Great Learning said that in the past 2-3 months, the platform has started offering online degree programmes.

"We are offering courses in the areas where we are in strong in. It includes online degree programmes in areas of analytics,  data science, AI, machine learning, cloud computing and full stack for MCA as well MBA in digital marketing, analytics and so on. Our approach is to offer online degrees oriented towards the future, where there are jobs and areas where there is disruption because of technology," he added.

Compared to a regular full-time course where one would need to quit his/her job, these programmes could be done along with your day job.

Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had said earlier that online degrees would also enable India to encourage students to stay back in the country for higher education.

"Almost Rs 1 lakh crore goes out of the country for education abroad each year for about 7,50,000 students. We are hoping that amidst the pandemic, we will be able to at least motivate 100,000 students to choose their own country as their higher education destination this year through innovative online degree programmes," he had added.

For corporate professionals, who have a constant fear of going out of relevance due to changing technology, upskilling via e-degrees works well.

Bibek Banerjee, Senior Director and Head of Strategic Initiatives, Dean School of Management & Entrepreneurship, Shiv Nadar University said that quality education is a public good and it should also be accessible.

"It is very expensive to do an MBA degree, in India or abroad. Our whole idea was to offer quality education at an affordable cost. We also wanted to reach students to the deepest hinterland of the country which is possible via e-degree programmes," he added.

Banerjee also explained that not all professionals are in a financial position to quit their jobs for two years, forego their salary and take an education loan for doing an MBA. For them, an online degree works best.

Apart from the MBA programme that is being offered with Great Learning, Banerjee added that Shiv Nadar University is planning to add programmes in engineering and a Master of Science in Business Analytics next year.

More students and professionals who are not able to shift to another city for a degree programme can also benefit from online degrees.

Dr Raj Singh, Vice-Chancellor, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) said that their association with players like Imarticus Learning will further enhance the learning experience of students in the post-pandemic era, where online learning is a significant part of the new normal.

"It will also help us expand our reach to students and extend our services to them, thereby keeping them in sync with the evolving career paths and needs of the future job industry," he added.

Will recruiters be open to online degrees?

Hiring consultants told Moneycontrol that companies are slowly opening up to online degree holders.

"It is not a certificate programme or distance learning which employers are wary of. When big and well-known universities are offering online degrees, employers will be open to hiring such graduates," said Vivek Tripathi, vice president at PayHire HR Consulting.

Similarly, Banerjee of Shiv Nadar University and Nair of Great Learning also agreed that employers are more receptive to online degrees since they have the same level of rigour.

"There are proper assessments, projects and examinations that are moderated by experts. So the academic quality is on par with a full-time degree," added Nair.

Going forward, it is expected that recruitment advertisements would also be more clear on being open to online degree holders as well.

"It is no longer a sin to study online. Employers have also realised the value of online degrees, especially now that it has a clear government recognition," said Sumanth Krishnan, CEO, BlueChip HR Solutions.

Considering the benefits, he said that the market for online degrees in India is just opening up. Even post COVID-19, Krishnan said that the demand for such degrees will stay intact.

How edtech startup Talentedge looks to make a dent in higher degree education with its direct-to-device SaaS m - YourStory

Posted: 18 Jun 2021 05:45 PM PDT

There are around 250 million students who attend school in India -- be it private or government – according to a 2018 report by Statista. However, when it comes to higher education, the ratio falls low, with only 27.4 percent of the population in the age group 18-23 enrolling for degree courses.

Gurugram-based Talentedge looks to make a dent here with its edtech solutions, with both B2B and B2C model at play. The startup was founded in 2012 by Aditya Malik.

As part of its B2B offering, the startup offers a SaaS solution and partners with universities to enable them to offer online degree programmes. This means that the degree and content shared are completely in the name of the university while Talentedge works as an OPM (online programme manager), which is quite a popular concept in the US.

Along with this, it also runs an online live interaction-based certification programme for individual students in partnership with institutes like IIM, MICA, XLRI, and UCLA, among others. These certifications are across enterprise segments such as HR, finance, technology, leadership, management, as well as its own Talentedge certification.

"We have been pioneers in live, interactive, anywhere learning, so we coined the term D2D – Direct-to-Device. Live learning did not exist six years ago (2014) when we launched," says Aditya.

Since its launch, Talentedge claims to have more than 500,000 learners with an 80 percent customer satisfaction and referral orientation. It has so far launched more than 15 courses, and another 15 are in pipeline for the next few years.

The Journey so far

Talentedge started up by offering skill-based certifications and enterprise education with a team of two. The idea was to focus more on the B2B side, and working with corporates, thereby giving an 'edge' to the 'talent'.

However, 2012 was a period when education was primarily offline.

Aditya says, when he connected with the industry leaders then, the debate was primarily on how to use technology to create an 'anytime, anywhere' learning model for enterprises. This led to the creation of the 'direct-to-device' concept.

"It took us two years to build it from scratch. We built our own learning management system. Also, videos needed to be run on lesser bandwidth as internet penetration was much lower. Online live learning or video learning is common today, but back then Skype was the only video service available. So this was a huge task for us as we had to build the complete tech stack," he adds.

Once their tech stack was built, around 2014-15, they shifted their focus on offering degree courses online as part of partner institutes' distance learning courses along with individual certification courses with live interactive classes.

"The latest boost to our vision was given by the NEP2020 policy by the government, which stated that online degrees will now be equivalent to offline degrees, and will be applicable for jobs. We have now signed up six exclusive contracts with some of the top universities as an OPM, and a few more are in the pipeline," says Aditya.

Business growth

The key categories of courses, which have seen a maximum 50 percent increase in inquiries over the years include HR, marketing, analytics, strategy, leadership, and finance. It also claims to have over 17.5 million man-hours of learning completed on the platform.

During the pandemic too, the company was able to sustain its growth graph. While its team grew by 50 percent to more than 250 people, the average revenue per enrolment per course grew by 40 percent.

"Approximately, 60 percent of our learners belong to Tier II/III/IV cities while 40 percent from Tier-I/metros. We have seen above 90 percent completion rates. Also, 92 percent of people have reported a positive impact on their careers," he adds.

Aditya also claims to have earned 2X revenue over the last two years, and is looking for a very strong fiscal year ahead.


Direct-to-device being a novel concept at the time, it was difficult to convince the universities when Talentedge attempted to enter the degree course segment.

Aditya shares that it took them 12 months to get their first premium institution on board. The first turning point came when they partnered with IIFT.

"IIFT was the first institute that partnered with us, understood and realised our vision, and decided to join hands. Since then, we haven't stopped and our long-standing relationships with IIMs, MICA, XLRI, and now eCornell, UCLA, and other premium institutions is a testament to the team and its efforts," he adds.

Today, the startup claims to have partnered with more than 30 institutes, with more than 500K learners using its service. It is backed by an undisclosed family office and claims to have received the support of Rs 200 crore so far. It works on a typical revenue-sharing model, which ranges from 45 percent to 60 percent depending upon the kind of service being provided.

"After spending around 22 years of my career with companies like Lumis Partners, Bank of America, and GE, among others, Talentedge has been more of a personal vision and mission than just being an entrepreneurial venture. I aspire to change the way India learns, enabling learning with purpose and instilling a 'now you can' attitude in people," he says.

Plans ahead

Aditya believes the opportunity is huge as the government now allows dual degrees and one can do a pin code level penetration when it comes to internet-led services.

In the next 24 months, the team aims to offer the same quality education in vernacular languages.

"AICTE has already announced a couple of degrees in vernacular. The team is now strengthening its tech stack utilising artificial intelligence, cloud campus, social collaborative learning, content curation, gamified content, assessment, analytics, and more," he says.

At the same time, the focus is also on strengthening the leadership team, expanding the team across domains, as well as investing in brand and technology.

Going ahead, he believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated things at a fast pace in edtech, increasing adoption towards online among teachers, parents, and students. While premier institutes were already adopting online channels to offer degree courses, now state universities and central universities have come online as well, which is a booster.

While initially, the focus was on bringing trust to the ecosystem in the direct-to-device concept, now the challenge is to execute things flawlessly. and keep unit economics in control.

"We believe that going forward with online degree courses will be a game changer. As an OPM, we aim to position ourselves at the right place at the right time to bring education to the masses," says Aditya.

Edited by Megha Reddy

Exclusive: No degree? No skills? No worries. Move onwards and upwards with Coursera - AMEinfo

Posted: 19 Jun 2021 04:01 AM PDT

Online degrees and certifications are nothing new. They come in a garden variety, often water-downed versions of their original promise, or unable to carry their weight under scrutiny from potential recruiters, leaving license and degree holders disappointed, at a loss.    

Coursera, a global online learning platform founded in 2012 by Stanford University computer science professors, gains its polished reputation and credibility from the who's who of universities and partners who design their online courses, certifications, and degrees in a variety of subjects.

"Over 160 universities and 60 industry partners have authored 5000 of the courses we offer in specialties like business, technology, and data science, helping individuals and institutions like the Abu Dhabi School of government upscale and rescale," Coursera CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda told AMEinfo from his California headquarters.

During our interview, Jeff described the inner workings of Coursera as a way to leverage a successful career, quickly, and inexpensively.

Using key insights on performance data from over 77 million learners in more than 100 countries since the onset of the pandemic, Jeff also revealed how the UAE excelled in certain key business skills and fell short on others. 

The UAE is a perfect place to start on the way to uncovering the hidden gems behind Coursera.    

UAE's business skills

Coursera's Global Skills Report 2021 revealed that the UAE ranks #1 in the MENA region and #2 globally in overall business skills.

Communication, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management, and Strategy and Operations are areas where UAE learners have placed within the top 97 percentile or higher in business skills.

Not so much though on technology and data science skills which represent areas for continued growth as the UAE ranked just #72 and #71 respectively globally.

When the report was published, Anthony Tattersall, Coursera Vice President of EMEA said: "When it comes to technology and data science skills, access to a variety of job-relevant credentials, including a path to entry-level digital jobs, will be key to help reskill at scale, not just in the UAE but worldwide".

UAE learners have demonstrated strong capabilities in the highly-valued area of Data Analysis (82%).

The UAE ranked in the 77 percentile in Security Engineering reflecting robust know-how on the back of the country witnessing a 250% increase in cyberattacks through the pandemic

"We have about 440 thousand learners in the UAE, and about 4.2 million in the MENA," Jeff said.

"The numbers only reflect the performance of learners on Coursera and their responses to more than 400,000 assessment questions and over 5,000 courses." 

These are people who have an IP address coming from the UAE, not necessarily Emiratis, though many are in the Abu Dhabi school of government, and whose average age is 33 compared to 28 from the MENA, and where females represent 43% of the total in 2020. 

Closing the learners' gender gap in the UAE

Enrolment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses by women in the UAE. rose from 33% in 2018-19 to 41% in 2019-20.   

"This is a really great increase in female representation on Coursera in the UAE," Jeff indicated. 

He mentioned a World Economic Forum global gender gap report released in 2021 which said the UAE climbed 48 places in the global gender gap index last year from 120th to 72nd, as more UAE women learned online. 

Jeff acknowledged this as a global trend. 

"Our stats show women's share of enrolment in STEM rose from 31% in 2019 to 38% in 2020." 

Coursera's modus operandi 

Coursera went public on March 31, 2021, and currently has over 82 million individuals enrolled and registered as learners, a very large B2C model, continuously expanding its original concept.

"About 6 years ago, we launched Coursera for Business as many companies took to reskilling employees, regardless of age or the stage in their careers, because there is always new tech like the cloud, AI, data science, IoT, Blockchain, etc. that are being introduced," Jeff explained.

"Our industry partners like Google, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, and others are the ones building all these courses, just as universities build theirs, on our platform." 

A year later, the company launched Coursera for Government, and in 2019 it launched Coursera for Campus, a version of Coursera for any university in the world to offer online learning to their students.

"Our university partners have authored many single online courses that you can take and get a certificate in, not a degree," Jeff said, adding "But we have about 17 university partners actually putting full online degrees, bachelor's and master's, that get delivered on Coursera."

The university admits you as a student, their professors instruct online in both asynchronous and synchronous ways using Zoom and Slack, and the diploma is indistinguishable from a regular university degree.

"We are the tech platform where they author and deliver the courses. Our platform currently reaches over 80 million learners globally and we have the tech that allows authoring and delivering of very flexible courses," Jeff explained. 

"We also have something called Coursera Labs, and especially when it comes to computer science, cloud computing, and data science, we have the ability to help learners develop hands-on digital skills at scale."

Revenue model 

Surprisingly, Coursera offers lectures that can be watched for free. 

"So, most of the learners on Coursera aren't paying anything. But if you want to earn a certificate saying you completed a course and answered the assessment questions to show that you mastered the material, we charge $49 per course, per month on average," Jeff said. 

"We have specializations that run 4 or 5 courses, and as for degrees, our fees are generally around half what on-campus college degrees cost."

The questions companies should ask 

Jeff pointed to the opportunities or challenges, depending on how you look at it, companies face locally and globally. To find those, Jeff suggested organizations ask the following questions:

How digital is your company? Can you find your customer base online? How digital are your customer experiences? How digital is your supply chain?  

"Also, more than ever, companies today need organizational agility," Jeff revealed. 

"How well can you capture data about your customers and competitors and help people make good decisions in the company? How fast can you do that?" Jeff asked, listing what companies should investigate within their organizations.

Coursera's entire proof of concept is designed and built on the premise and promise to train and certify the companies' staff and managers, provide answers to these questions, and bridge both the knowledge and skills gap.    

Allowing tertiary education to keep up 

Jeff said many governments are realizing that the universities in their regions have not been able to keep up with how fast things were changing. 

"Change at breakneck speed is difficult to manage in tertiary education, so many universities are hiring Coursera for Campus to introduce data science and tech science courses to their students," Jeff revealed.

"Over 233,000 students use Coursera for Campus in the Middle East."  

Creating employment eligibilities  

Jeff said that it was possible to get an entry-level job in cybersecurity as an analyst, but also in other jobs looking for data analysts, data science experts, social media marketing, and more.

"In Cybersecurity, even if you don't have a college degree or any prior experience in IT or computing, earning a certificate on Coursera will create opportunities for learners to work in entry-level jobs in large companies, and plow their way through," Jeff said. 

"We believe that within 50-60 hours of learning, people can do what it takes for requirements to an entry-level job."  

Coursera indicated that a learner can develop core technical skills in a field like Sales in as little as 38 hours, or can gain the skills to become a Data Analyst in 64 hours to start a career in data science.

Recent graduates and mid-career professionals can develop entry-level digital job skills in as little as 35 to 70 hours, while someone with no degree or technology experience can be job-ready in 80 to 240 hours (or 2-6 months with 10 learning hours per week).

New age soft skills

Problem-solving, critical thinking, organizational development, creativity, and communication are soft skills that are always in demand. 

"But there are new things now like self-regulation, which is time management and reliability that allow you to focus attention despite many distractions and remote work conditions," Jeff announced. 

"Also dealing with diversity as teams become more global, alongside agility, curiosity, and growth mindsets in a faster changing digital world."

He said these soft skills start at the top. 

"If you are a leader who was able to manage pre-crisis and even during the crisis, but not thinking about managing a global distributed partly remote, partly on-premise, workforce, then you are in trouble," Jeff declared.

"Just imagine a middle manager who previously could see employees face to face, check the quality of their work, and provide support, but when some are not at work, or not even in the same time zone, your management competencies need to be reskilled."  


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