MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses for college credit

Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder and former creative director of MasterClass, has a new startup called Outlier.org. Like MasterClass, Outlier is bringing education online, but with a key difference — these are college classes offering real college credit.
The startup is launching a pilot version of its first two courses, Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology, for the coming fall semester. Each course is available for $400. (That covers all costs, including textbooks.)
Despite the .org name and address, Rasmussen said Outlier is very much a for-profit company, but he added, “We do want to make it clear that our goal is social impact. I believe in market solutions to problems. Coming up with a market solution to education, rather just relying on people’s charity, is far more durable.”
The problem in question is the cost of higher education. Rasmussen said that each year, 1 million students take a college-level Calculus I course in the United


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When Digital Textbooks Make College Students Pay to Turn In Their Homework

Slashdot reader jyosim writes:
A professor at Arizona State U says he was let go from his teaching job in the economics department because he wouldn’t embrace assigning homework software that he says “requires students to pay just to turn in homework.” His students rushed to his defense on social media, saying that many of their courses now require them to pay for online systems if they want to submit homework. The university says the professor is spreading misinformation and is the villain.
Details of the ASU situation are messy, but the broader issue of homework software is one that students around the country have been complaining about, while textbook companies see them as the future because they eliminate the used textbook market and lead to more sales as more students are forced to buy directly from publishers. Publishers argue their software is sophisticated, expensive to build, and improves student grades


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Vishal Makhijani steps down as chief executive of Udacity

Vishal Makhijani, the longtime chief executive of online education company Udacity, is stepping down as its chief executive officer, TechCrunch has learned.
Makhijani first joined the company in 2013 as chief operating officer under Sebastian Thrun, the company’s founder and chief executive at the time.
In 2016, Thrun, the original architect of Alphabet’s self-driving car initiatives and a storied entrepreneur and engineer in Silicon Valley, handed the reins of his online education startup to Makhijani, who assumed the mantle of CEO while Thrun became chairman and president of the company.

In an interview, Makhijani declined to disclose his next steps, but Thrun praised the executive for taking Udacity to new heights and hailed him as a key contributor to the company’s continuing growth.
As Thrun wrote in a blog post praising Makhijani for his tireless efforts:
Over the last five years, Vish worked with hundreds of tech companies to build curriculum focused on opening up


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190 Universities Launch 600 Free Online Courses

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: If you haven’t heard, universities around the world are offering their courses online for free (or at least partially free). These courses are collectively called MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. In the past six years or so, over 800 universities have created more than 10,000 of these MOOCs. And I’ve been keeping track of these MOOCs the entire time over at Class Central, ever since they rose to prominence.

In the past four months alone, 190 universities have announced 600 such free online courses. I’ve compiled a list of them and categorized them according to the following subjects: Computer Science, Mathematics, Programming, Data Science, Humanities, Social Sciences, Education & Teaching, Health & Medicine, Business, Personal Development, Engineering, Art & Design, and finally Science. The full list is available in the report. If you need help signing up, there’s a report for


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Quizlet hits 50M monthly users

Most students in the U.S. have used or at least heard of Quizlet, the website for creating digital flashcards.
The company leverages machine learning to predict in which areas its users need the most help and provides 300 million user-generated study decks, maps, charts and other tools for learning.
Roughly eight months after closing a $20 million financing, Quizlet chief executive officer Matthew Glotzbach has disclosed some notable feats for the emerging edtech: it’s reached 50 million monthly active users, up from 30 million one year ago, and though it’s not profitable yet, its revenue is growing 100 percent YoY.
As a result of its recent growth, the company is opening its first office outside of Silicon Valley, in Denver.
“We by no means feel like our work is done; 50 million is a very small fraction of the 1.4 billion students on the planet,” Glotzbach told TechCrunch. “Our focus is growing the platform. If we


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YouTube Is Investing $20 Million In Educational Content, Creators

YouTube is creating a new Learning Fund program where it will invest $20 million toward education content. The announcement was made today by Malik Ducard, global head of learning. The Verge reports: Channels like TED-Ed, dedicated to educational Ted Talks, and Hank and John Green’s Crash Course have already secured additional funding, according to YouTube’s blog post. The company plans to invest in content from independent creators, like the Green brothers, as well as traditional news sources and educational organizations to broaden its content offering.

YouTube’s Learning Fund has a nice ring to it, but it isn’t a philanthropic charity. An FAQ about the program states that “successful applicants must enter into a written agreement with YouTube. This agreement will contain more details about required deliverables, payment timelines, and other terms and conditions.” Creators must maintain a minimum of 25,000 subscribers. Those applying to the program also don’t need to


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Kahoot, the educational gaming startup, has raised another $15M, now at a $300M valuation

School’s back in session and a startup that’s building games to help students learn has moved to the top of the class. Kahoot — the educational gaming startup out of Norway that has been a quick hit with schools in the US and elsewhere — today announced that it has raised 126.5 million Norwegian krone (around $15.4 million), its second round this year, at a valuation of about 2.55 billion krone ($300 million), tripling its valuation in 7 months.
For some context, the company raised $17 million in March at a $100 million valuation.
Kahoot has been around since 2006 — originally as a gamefied education app called Lecture Quiz — although its rise in popularity and usage has been a more recent shift, dovetailing with how teachers are increasingly using more learning aids that are in tune with two of the more popular pastimes among kids these days: playing around on devices with screens,


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Apple’s ‘Everyone Can Create’ curriculum launches on Apple Books

Fist announced at Apple’s education event in Chicago, the company today launched its new “Everyone Can Create” curriculum on Apple Books. The curriculum joins Apple’s “Everyone Can Code” initiative by offering teachers a way to integrate drawing, music, filmmaking and photography into their classroom lesson plans.
Specifically, “Everyone Can Create” is designed to take advantage of Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad and Apple Pencil, also introduced at the company’s event this March in Chicago. Before its introduction, only Apple’s expensive iPad Pro model offered Pencil support. The new iPad, however, is just $299 for schools, like the prior 9.7-inch device. (Or it’s $329 for consumers.)
The curriculum itself was built by Apple in collaboration with teachers and educators, and works to alongside Apple’s built-in apps like GarageBand, iMovie, Clips, and others. It’s been in preview since the news of its arrival earlier this year, with educators in over 350 schools worldwide giving it


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Survey Finds 85% of Underserved Students Have Access To Only One Digital Device

A new research [PDF] on students who took the ACT test, conducted by the ACT Center for Equity in Learning, found that 85% of underserved (meaning low income, minority, or first generation in college) students had access to only one device at home, most often a smartphone. From a blog post: American Indian/Alaskan, Hispanic/Latino, and African American students had the least access. White and Asian students had the most. Nearly a quarter of students who reported that family income was less that $36,000 a year had access to only a single device at home, a 19% gap compared to students whose family income was more than $100,000.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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