EdX announced the appointment of Wendy Cebula, the former COO of VistaPrint as its president and COO. This is a reflection of EdX’s further move to be more commercially sustainable. Despite its US$30 million funding from MIT and Harvard, EdX is looking to be financially viable as a legal entity.
Coursera, on the other hand, also made a senior management announcement. The former Yale University President Richard C. Levin would become its new chief executive officer. This Silicon Valley backed startup is taking into the Ex-Yale president to steer the ship.
With EdX, a university-backed MOOC platform recruiting a commercial leader; Coursera, the VC-backed MOOC takes in a high education veteran. Guess to have a management team who understands education, technology and monetization, is able to blend them well is a recipe for future success.
People say they don’t want to grow up, I say I don’t want to grow down.
An adult works for eight hours. After working hour, (s)he goes to relax or meet friends. At home, (s)he can cook, do hobbies, grow some plants, watch TV and play video games. Over the weekend, (s)he can sleep in and do nothing.
A child studies for eight hours at school. After studying hour, (s)he goes to tutor’s place to continue studying. At home, (s)he continues to work on homework. Over the weekend, (s)he gets up early to attend extra curriculum activity clubs or go to learn a hobby. Some of them have a zombie face already.
Ask any adult you know who wants to swap life with a child, zero!
I heard stories of parents who sent their three-year-old daughter to a leadership communication course. Seriously? Give me a break.
A TV show [The Most Powerful Brain] became a huge hit in China. It is said to be an introduction of a German TV show franchise (I Googled the original German show but could find anything in English about it. Google, you disappointed me!)
This show gathers people of various distinguished talents. People who have eidetic memory, who can remember hundreds of phone numbers in one day, who can tell the size and position of an object by hearing (BATMAN!!!). I don’t watch TV but I imagine how exciting it is to see people with super talents. In my early 20’s I watched Rain Man and wished I were as smart as him.
The recent episode of [The Most Powerful Brain] had two teenage boys of twelve years old. They both cried in the show, for different reasons. Boy A cried to an collapsing extent as he thought he memorised things wrong and would lose. Boy B cried as he was worried about boy A. A eventually got everything right and won.
It is certainly a fun thing to master some skills others don’t. But that is far from reaching the pinnacle of life. I might have this talent or might not have that talent but so what? My Mac machine processes calculation in a flashing speed, way faster than I do. I, meanwhile, am not that bothered by this fact my Mac beats me in calculation.
It is quite a sad show.
One can never be bored watching the space of MOOC. On 16th of March, edX and GEMS Education announced a partnership during the Global Education & Skills Forum to bring MOOC courses to pre-university students. GEMS Education will create courses on the platform specifically aimed at pre- university students, who currently make up 5% of edX’s 2 million users around the world.
Accompany the news edX goes to younger customers (K-12), FutureLearn moves further in the professional training space by successfully wooing ACCA for accreditation. It is also the first platform to officially alliance with non university institutions such as British Museum. edX, in March this year, added 6 non university consortium partners such as IMF as well. The speed dating game between platform and content providers started and will continue to do so.
I love this speed dating game. Platforms are actively experimenting, by combing its platform features with content providers targeting specific consumer segments. They are looking for an innovative and right combination, one that either attracts huge traffic or provides monetization solutions.
Call it disruptive, call it destructive. Keep dating, genius baby(s) are on the way!
It is claimed by Chinese proverbs there are two biggest pleasures in life – 金榜题名时 and 洞房花烛夜。金榜题名时, literally it means the day your name is nominated on the golden plate. In Chinese history, it is the time when one is informed by a group of people singing praises, that he has won the national exams based on essay writing. 洞房花烛夜 means the night your room is lit by romantic candles, a night when one gets married to a beautiful wife.
Candle night sounds fun and certainly achievable. Imagine a pool of population of 1 billion people, 50% female. Among the half female, let us say 50% is good looking. Then theoretically 250 million guys will have sweet candle nights.
Golden plate nomination is hard. Historically only males took that exam. Therefore, the probability of winning the number 1 plate was one out of 500 million people. People work really really hard for that probability. One determined guy tired his hair on the house beam and jabbed his side with a needle to keep oneself awake. He became a famous role model in the text book. Another guy went insane after years of hard work and a final recognition of golden plate nomination. It was a sad drama.
In modern days, that golden plate nomination translates into getting accepted by an elite foreign college/university. The student is glorified by praises from every one. All the hard work pays off by a letter of acceptance.
The result can be the biggest pleasure of life. But is the process FUN? Not if I needed to jab needle in my legs.
I woke up to read two exciting news in the world of MOOCs
First, ACCA will recognise certain MOOC courses. ‘Discovering Business in Society’, a MOOC course developed in partnership between ACCA and the University of Exeter Business School, gained ACCA’s seal of approval. After successfully passing FutureLearn’s invigilated exam, it will lead to exemption from paper F1 (Accountant in Business), a standard module in the ACCA qualification.
Second, South Africa’s awarenet is taking MOOCs courses to rural schools. This Grahamstown based educational NPO awarenet just added classes from theKhan Academy‘s KALite to its repertoire of tools that it supplies to schools in the area. KALite is an open source, offline tool which gives schools that lack internet access the ability to use Khan Academy’s courses on local computers.
MOOC reminds me of the 2001 movie [A.I.]. A model prototype boy created to resemble a human child. The difference is that this time, the A.I. boy of MOOCs has exhibited a potential of unlimited possibilities beyond a human boy can do.
What will I read tomorrow?
There are quite a few edTech focused accelerators or incubators including Pearson Catalyst. Last year , it received a total of 202 applications; 124 applications met the submission criteria. 6 startups were selected. 5 completed the pilot program.
This year Pearson Catalyst opened applications for its second class in its Catalyst incubatorprogram, with a couple of changes: First, Pearson has specified ten challenges that it is hoping startups will address. Also, the program will be done virtually this year, meaning that accepted startups no longer have to spend time in London.
SMART! Even Einstein is gonna love it because
1. It is Goal Oriented: Many technologies make a fatal mistake – fall in love with technology and forget about the problem. But the list of challenges by Pearson is sensible : math teaching, data visualisation, English language learning, benchmark global education standards.
2. It is Global: the impact of digital disruption is borderless. No ambitious individual can afford to think only local.
Great start, Pearson. An initiative to plant the seeds began well, I am hope further an enriching soil to grow them into billion dollar businesses.