Monthly Archives: September 2011

Monday RoundUp

MRU: Google+ Hangouts, Social Good in Education and ESL is Big in Japan

The open source learning management system (LMS) Moodle launched a mobile app that enables teachers to interact with their students via iPhone.

Google+ Hangouts got some really powerful features like recording, Google Docs and screensharing and something similar to a basic interactive whiteboard.

Microsoft and Comcast both announced new programs to support under-served students of low-income families with cheap broadband Internet access, discounted hardware and software as well as free digital literacy training.

Amazon lets you now use your Kindle to borrow digital books in over 11,000 US libraries. All you need is, of course, a Kindle and a valid library card.

Grockit changed its business to a “one-for-one” model. This means that for every paid subscription to the service one student in need will receive free access to the service. The social learning network also launched a Facebook integration of the f8 conference.

Only 3 days after Google released the API for Google+ Hangouts, a German startup called Conceptboard launched a very sophisticated whiteboard as free integration.

A report by Reuters underlined that the ESL and online education space is booming in Japan. The reason is increased fear for jobs amongst the white collar workers who are widely known for their poor English skills.

This week’s EDUKWEST interviews included an update with Nathan Parcells of InternMatch about the recent funding round and the new features, my interview with Derek Muller of Veritasium in which we focused on how to shoot educational videos for YouTube and an “on tour” interview with Armin Hopp and James Shepard of digital publishing / speexx about the company’s recent relaunch and the new product features.

My monthly guest post on ESL Library was about the Implications of English becoming a basic skill into today’s society. What is next for the ESL space?

The Sunday post on Big Think / Disrupt Education was a reflection on what I learned from talking to Derek Muller and what needs to be done to make science videos more effective and engaging. Only Getting the Right Answers is Wrong

Last but not least you can watch a rundown of all the stories in education that did not make it on the EDUKWEST blog in the second episode of After Hours.

My closing statement for this week’s MRU is that we’re looking for additions to the EDUKWEST Newsteam. If you’re interested in becoming a writer you can send me your application via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Those of you who find value in our articles, who want to support EDUKWEST and make it sustainable are more than welcome to make a donation if your monetary situation allows it, of course.


KWestions Ep. 27 with Derek Muller – Incorrect Information has more Effect on Learning

How I first heard about Derek Muller, the creator of Veritasium was in the course of his take on education’s current fairhaired boy (not really but let’s use the metaphor), Salman Khan and the Khan Academy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that videos definitely have their place as a tool in education. I am a producer of educational video, Derek is one. There is no doubt that videos do their part to make explain things in a new, visual and engaging way but other tools also have their place. Salman Khan is doing a great job of breaking complex things down and to present them in an easy and digestible way.

To put Khan Academy and its founder in the place of having all the right answers to our problems and sort of being the savior of education is wrong, and the way I see it, it’s also not what he intended to do.

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Monday RoundUp

MRU: Free Math Help Online, College Recruiting and Videos in Education

The Ministry of Education of Ontario in Canada is offering free online math help for students grade 7-10 via a platform called Homework Help. All teachers are employed by the state and students connect via live chat and interactive whiteboards.

Following its strategy of becoming the one-stop-shop for students from college to university Chegg acquired Zinch, a platform that connects students to scholarships.

Also in the student recruiting space McGraw-Hill lead a $1.6 million funding round for Unigo, an information and resource platform for college application and financial aid.

The University of London became YouTube EDU’s 100th partner. Looking at the history of the university it is a natural fit as the University of London is the world’s oldest provider of distance degrees.

CommonCraft videos and the website are now available in 8 different languages, making a truly global resource for educators and trainers world wide.

I also interviewed Dave Schappell of TeachStreet about the Startup Weekend EDU in Seattle at the end of this month.

Finally, you can listen to all the education news that did not make it into a blog post in the new “After Hours” format on EDUKWEST.


KWestions Ep. 26 With Jeffrey McManus – Is Coding the new Literacy?

I did this episode of KWestions in the course of the EDUKWEST interview with Jeffrey McManus on his company CodeLesson and my general interest in the growing startup scene around educating people how to code.

As you know, instead of focusing on what a particular startup does, the KWestions format is about the bigger picture. You have probably heard me talking about the importance of education and skills for one’s career and how I see a shift regarding key qualifications needed happening right now and at an increasing pace.

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Monday RoundUp

MRU: Global Language Communities, valued Interns and Biz and Livia Stone

Livemocha is strengthening its footprint in Latin America. Abril Educacao bought 5.9% of the Seattle-based startup and is planning to build a platform for the rising Brazilian middle class.

Babbel is going to expand its mobile offers by acquiring the application department of software company Aspirement in October. The premium language learning community also tripled its revenue in 2011 and is planning to expand to North America.

InternMatch raised a $500k funding round from renown investors, expands US wide and launched a new feature for companies called Community Pages. Those pages are showcases for company culture and help interns to get a first idea of what it will be like working for the company before even applying for an internship. Launch partners are major brands like Pixar, Aol, Wikimedia and others.

The Des Moines Area Community Colleges are planning to extend their offering by implementing WizIQ Classrooms in Fall. The platform will be used for everything from virtual office hours to synchronous lectures, lesson capture or outreach to prospective students.

Biz Stone and his wive Livia announced the first fundraiser for the Biz and Livia Stone Foundation. The goal of the non-profit is to support education and conservation efforts in the state of California.

In EDUKWEST #71 I talked with Josh Koppel, co-founder of ScrollMotion. ScrollMotion is a renown developer of digital books, magazines and applications and is behind the digital version of Esquire and the Oprah Winfrey magazine. Now, the company turned the HMH Algebra 1 textbook into an interactive application. The company has the potential to become a vital competitor for Kno and Inkling.

On Big Think I wrote about Language Learning Communities being the pubs of the global village and the Digital Backpack becoming more and more a reality.


KWestions Ep. 25 with William Mougayar of Eqentia – What is Curation?

As we increasingly discuss whether content itself is still what matters or if it wasn’t really context that does, I have been looking deeper into curation and its opportunities in an educational context over the past few months.

Out of that motivation I want to share this KWestions with William Mougayar today. He is the founder Eqentia, a company that built a semantic search platform for web content publishers around key features like data mining, real-time aggregation and advanced curation. As each Equentia site, public or private in the case of many companies, is being curated by one or several experts on a topic and highly customizable, the results go deeper and are in that sense more accurate or relevant if you will than the normal search results google can provide.

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International Literacy Day – Thoughts on the Future of Reading

Lidie Olesen, one of our contributors over at EDUKWEST and librarian made me aware of International Literacy Day on September 8th and thus for the last couple of days I have been thinking in a broader way about how my own reading habits have changed with technology taking an ever important role in my professional as well as everyday life, and I also asked a few students of mine.

Here are the results which are of course not representative.

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Monday RoundUp

MRU: Startups and Funding in Higher Education, Edutainment and 21st Century Skills

iversity, a Berlin-based education startup in the higher education sector announced a $1.6 million funding round. It is offering a free online workspace for educators and students with a variety of tools for organizing and collaboration.

Big Think and The Jack Parker Corporation launched The Floating University which offers a 12 week online video course by renown lecturers from the Ivy League universities Harvard, Yale and Bard.

Edutainment startup English Attack! surpassed 100k registered users and is planning to launch a schools & teachers platform this fall.

15 startups in higher education will have the opportunity to present their ideas at this year’s Educause in October. Michael Staton of Inigral initiated the idea of a Startup Alley.

Pearson launched an API for developers that gives access to three of the publisher’s main content sources, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, FT Press and the Eyewitness Guide to London.

According to a report of Pew Internet, only 29% of the general public thinks that an online degree has the same value compared to a classic degree, the college presidents are divided in their opinion.

As part of the talks on an education reform, US Senator Phil Pavlov, head of the Senate Education Committee, is currently working on a bill that would enable schools to hire teachers through private companies in order to save on high-dollar packages pushed by the teacher unions.

In EDUKWEST #70 I talked to Jeffrey McManus, founder and CEO of CodeLesson. CodeLesson provides hands-on, instructor-led training through its interactive courses with real-world tasks and challenges without ignoring the theoretical basis.