UPenn Penning Conflict of Interest Guidelines

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

Inside Higher Ed brings us a new wrinkle in the discussion about professors and MOOCS: The University of Pennsylvania is working on new guidelines to dissuade their professors from working with the competition – outside vendors of online courses.

The university publicly released new guidelines Tuesday that illustrate how its existing conflict of interest policy applies to this situation, saying that outside ventures “may create the potential for conflicts of interest that did not arise in the past,” due to Penn’s expansion into its own online offerings.  A strongly-worded bullet point reminds faculty that their “primary professional obligation is to the University. This includes both a primary commitment of time and effort to University activities and a commitment not to compete with the University without advance permission.”

IHE spoke with Edward Rock, a senior advisor to Penn’s president and provost and the university’s director of open course initiatives, who said Penn was thinking ahead and not reacting to a particular incident.  Penn says professors who want to teach online courses or freelance their talents should first explain why they can’t do so through Penn’s existing online opportunities both within the university and through Coursera.

Universities are looking to protect their unique brand – the faculty members they have hired to provide educational experiences.  Professors are wondering whether their personal brand belongs to their universities or to themselves.

Read the full article on Inside Higher Ed.

TechCrunch + Udemy = CrunchU

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

CrunchU - Course Listing Page

CrunchU – Course Listing Page

TechCrunch, the site for startup news, is breaking through the proverbial 4th wall and getting into the start-up business.

TechCrunch is partnering with online learning marketplace Udemy to offer readers self-directed, TechCrunch-curated courses featuring business luminaries and grey beards such as Eric Ries, Dave McClure and Jack Welch.  Ned Desmond, COO at TechCrunch says: “CrunchU offers tech-driven learners around the world an exciting opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds in today’s tech and startup world.”

CrunchU will couple its big-vision course offerings with practical next-step courses such as  “Creating Responsive Web Design” and “Sales and Persuasion Skills for Startups” to “Android Apps in 1 Hour: No Coding Required ” and “Raising Money for Startups

When asked about the unusual alliance between a news outlet and a MOOC, Dinesh Thiru, VP of Marketing at Udemy noted that TechCrunch readers are particularly driven by the need to reinvent themselves:  “The world is changing for the busy professional and it’s changing really dramatically. Now more than ever, entrepreneurs need to keep improving their skillset, and have to keep learning throughout entire life…to stay relevant, get promoted make a career change, start a business.   TechCrunch has been at the forefront of informing and equipping the world.  This is an amazing yet natural extension in their ability to deliver a ton of value to their audience.”

Thiru believes that CrunchU targets are, by definition, TechCrunch readers and Disrupt attendees or followers whose natural inclination toward growth hacking makes the news outlet’s partnership with Udemy a natural fit, and that TechCrunch’s expansion beyond news to include other start-up related content serves its readers well.

“Maybe they’re working for Google or Facebook as engineers, marketers or operations talent, and they want to know what their next skillsets should be.  What should they be learning about, and from whom?  Together, Udemy and TechCrunch intend to answer the question with mobile courseware, which may be the only way many of their targets can find the time to get and stay current.”

Udemy and TechCrunch are natural partners for the company they keep:  both have access to movers and shakers in the start-up and global business worlds, and will translate that access into courseware and strategic counsel.  The TechCrunch and Udemy teams will work together closely on identifying and addressing trending issues and needs.

Thiru declined to offer a projected uptake for the first year, and said that TechCrunch and Udemy’s initial focus was courseware quality.  He did share that course costs probably won’t break the backpack: sign-up is free and most courses will retail between $19 – $99. A full list of courses is available at www.crunchu.udemy.com, and users can enroll by visiting CrunchU‘s site or  or TechCrunch.

Sheri Cheng can be reached at sheri@edtechtimes.com.  Maureen MacGregor also contributed to this article.

HotChalk Education Index Identifies Current Online Learning Trends

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

HOTCHALK LOGOEducation technology company HotChalk announced the release of the HotChalk Education Index report at the Arizona State University/GSV EdInnovation Summit last Thursday, April 17. The HotChalk Education Index is based on the company’s analysis of more than 30 billion data points and 25,000 surveys collected during a 90 day window; representing teachers, parents, students, administrators and tutors from every wired country on the planet.

“Understanding our planet’s educational intent, from Internet users seeking education outcomes, is revolutionary,” explained Edward Fields, HotChalk Chairman & CEO. “The HotChalk Education Index helps education innovators, technologists, publishers and investors understand the online education market with unprecedented scale, depth and precision.”

The HotChalk Education Index is based on anonymized education data from the HotChalk Network, a proprietary collection of more than 160 education focused websites, serving more than 200 million pages of free content to 50 million unique visitors from around the world each month.

Some of the findings in HotChalk’s Q1 report include:

A mixed-bag on attitudes toward in-person/onsite and online education.  Both students and teachers in the survey seem to exhibit no preference towards in-person/onsite or online education.  This could be an indication that while the online education movement has great traction in the education media, its effects are still trickling down to the end users of the product, resulting in a state of no-preference.  As HotChalk continues to survey its users, it will be interesting to follow this question to see how attitudes towards in/person or online education may change over time.


The favorite price is still free.  While this information in itself is not surprising, the breakdown of paid content usage habits generates new questions about who pays for content and why.  A higher percentage of administrators describe themselves as either exclusively using paid content or using paid and free content equally than students and teachers.  A higher percentage of teachers describe themselves as exclusively or mostly using free content than students or administrators.  By digging deeper into this type of data and other statistics, product developers will have to decide whether to respond to expectations or challenge the status quo for these different user groups.


HotChalk will release the HotChalk Education Index quarterly providing data driven insights and surveys on topics including, free vs. paid education content; education technology efficacy; educator technology adoption rates; student access by geography; subject matter consumption rates; and more. The Index will be available for custom research projects beginning in Q3 2013.

For more information and to download a PDF copy of the report, visit www.educationinamerica.com.