Online Experiential Learning


Northeastern is making the virtual classroom more dynamic, connected, and real by integrating the professional workplace into its 54 online and hybrid degree programs.

Working with learning experts and industry partners, Northeastern is the first university to create an online education model that is driven by cognitive science, informed by employers, and powered by experiential

Our global network of nearly 3,000 employers provides students in our online programs with rich opportunities for real-world understanding—through collaboratively developed curricula, cooperative education placements and corporate residencies, case studies, and special projects.

This best-in-class model gives students unmatched insight into their studies – a professional perspective that prepares them to lead, and not just keep up.

Online experiential learning is grounded in the university’s tradition of leadership in educational innovation.

  • For more than a century, Northeastern has enriched learning by integrating classroom study with professional experience in its signature cooperative education program and other experiential opportunities.
  • The university’s library of online and hybrid degrees is among the largest of any private research university in the U.S.
  • Our global network of employers, researchers, and graduate campus hubs connects our programs and our students to the fields of knowledge that will drive the 21st century economy.

In the News This Week

Inside Higher Ed
Beyond Grades
Next wave of student learning assessments from testing firms could be boon for employers and competency-based education.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Accreditor Tells Tiffin U. to Halt Enrollments in Online Venture
The university ran the program, Ivy Bridge College, in partnership with an investors’ group. Advocacy groups had hailed the venture as a promising new model.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Abrupt For-Profit Closures Surprise Regulators
Thousands of students in the Northeast were left in the lurch early this year after their campuses closed. Why didn’t anyone see this coming?

The Washington Post
Social-Media Schooling Is on the Rise – But Is It Necessary?
With social media evolving so quickly, a question is whether professionals need a degree or simply practical training. An industry that is so dependent on tools provided by outside sources could easily become defunct, and skills practiced in school might lack value in the workplace.

Return of the MOOC Money Discussion

In previous months we have seen the budget model for MOOCs evolve.  Julia Lawrence for Education News writes “MOOC Providers Take Differing Approaches to Profitability”:

ThrunThe popularity of massive online open courses is booming. For the first time, the higher education sector is experiencing the same technology-fueled feeling of giddiness that made the dotcom boom years fly so high. However, as the Economist points out, it’s one thing to tout a revolution — and it’s another to pay for it. In short, do massive online open course providers have what it takes to make themselves profitable?

The two leaders in the MOOC game are undoubtedly Silicon Valley-based startups Coursera and Udacity. Both boast impeccable academic and business pedigrees. Coursera’s co-founder Daphne Koller is a former Stanford University professor, while Udacity’s CEO Sebastian Thrun is tied to Google’s success. In the past year, Coursera has raised close to $80 million in several funding rounds, including $43 million in a venture capital funding round announced earlier this month. Koller says that Coursera’s fund-raising ability puts it in contention to become one of the small number of dominant players in the MOOC sector when the field inevitably thins in a few years.

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Personalizing MOOCs

Peter Norvig for the Scientific American writes “How to Make Online Courses Massively Personal”:

Educators have known for 30 years that students perform better when given one-on-one tutoring and mastery learning—working on a subject until it is mastered, not just until a test is scheduled. Success also requires motivation, whether from an inner drive or from parents, mentors or peers.

Will the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) quash these success factors? Not at all. In fact, digital tools offer our best path to cost-effective, personalized learning.

I know because I have taught both ways. For years Sebastian Thrun and I have given artificial-intelligence courses at Stanford University and other schools; we lectured, assigned homework and gave everyone the same exam at the same time. Each semester just 5 to 10 percent of students regularly engaged in deep discussions in class or office hours; the rest were more passive. We felt there had to be a better way.

So, in the fall of 2011, we tried something new. In addition to our traditional classroom, we created a free online course open to anyone. On our first try, we attracted a city’s worth of participants—about 100,000 engaged with the course, and 23,000 finished…

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LMS Driving Globalization in Education

Globalization is becoming increasingly relevant to those working directly and indirectly with other countries.  In order to prepare the workforce for this important concept, it must be taught and conveyed as an asset in American and international classrooms.  Such institutions can begin by incorporating global learning into everyday lesson plans, within the broad curriculum, and through offering cultural programs to their students.  One way our schools are doing this is through Learning Management systems.  See article from Digital Book World below for more on this topic:

Driving Globalization in Education Through Learning Management Systems by Vishal Jindal:

Digitization has opened up the borders of education. Almost anyone can enroll in any course of choice offered from any university in the world. The world’s most prestigious institutions are opening up to the idea of virtual course delivery, to the idea of generating new revenue streams through digital education. This expansion doesn’t have to come at the cost of lower quality or making their brand less sought after. Institutes can still differentiate themselves with the depth and the uniqueness of the courses on offer. Online education creates the opportunity to take education to the masses, especially in the emerging economies where there is more of a need to work alongside study there is shortage of teachers and quality study material.

Online education is beginning to show good potential. The overall size of online education market is expected to reach $78.4 billion by 2015 from $60.5 billion in 2010. Within the online education market, the pattern for K-12 is different than post-secondary or higher education. The share of spending devoted to e-learning appears considerably smaller in K-12 education than in post-secondary education. Expenditure on e-learning in U.S K-12 education is estimated to absorb just $0.46 for every $100 spent. By contrast, expenditure on e-learning in U.S. post-secondary education is estimated at $5.60 per $100 spent, or over 10 times the K-12 share. (Source: Executive office of the president council of economic advisers, Sept, 2011.) Accordingly, there is lot of focus on e-learning for higher education. The leading learning management system providers include Blackboard, Pearson, Ellucian and few open source ones like Moodle and Sakai. Learning management systems are platforms through which the e-learning programs are executed. These usually cover a range of features like collaboration tools, virtual classrooms and online assessments. A good Learning Management System is easy to use, user friendly and cost effective. It allows easy publishing of courses to the Learning Management System so that it is easy for non-technical training administrators to create, manage, and track interactive training courses and learning programs for all levels of users. Further, an Learning Management System should be scalable, flexible, pay as you grow that provides various options to multiple business sizes or models.

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Another $43 Million raised by Coursera

Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, at the company’s offices in Mountain View, Calif. Over the next few months, Coursera plans to double its employees to about 100.

Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times
Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, at the company’s offices in Mountain View, Calif. Over the next few months, Coursera plans to double its employees to about 100.

Tamar Lewin of the New York Times writes “Coursera, an Online Education Company, Raises Another $43 Million”:

Coursera, a year-old company offering free online courses, has raised another $43 million in venture capital from investors active in both domestic and international education.

The new investors include the International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank, and Laureate Education, an international higher education company with dozens of profit-making universities around the world, as well as GSV Capital, Learn Capital and Yuri Milner, an individual entrepreneur.

“We hope it’s enough money to get us to profitability,’’ said Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera. “We haven’t really focused yet on when that might be.’’

Coursera, based in Mountain View, Calif., previously raised $22 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; New Enterprise Associates; and the University of Pennsylvania and California Institute of Technology, two of its university partners.

Over the next few months, Coursera plans to double its employees to about 100, and expand in several areas, including mobile apps and its Signature Track offerings, which charge a fee to students who want an identity-verified certificate upon successful completion of Coursera’s free courses. Since January, when the Signature Track option was first offered in five courses, Signature Track fees have produced more than $800,000, Ms. Koller said — and in the long run, she said, such revenue may be enough to make the company sustainable.

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The future of college campuses

Inside Higher Ed’s Ry Rivard writes “Skipping Campus”:
“Students seeking online degrees might soon resemble traditional on-campus  students, according to a new survey sponsored by two companies involved in online education  consulting.

The survey, in its second year, continues to show the typical student seeking  a degree or certification online is a married middle-aged white woman, but the  new results suggest the overall population of online learners is beginning to  include more students who are of traditional college age, but not going to a college campus. The survey is only of students who have taken, are taking or  plan to take courses from an online program.”

According to the survey, 1/3 of America’s 21 million college students are enrolled in at least one online class and 3 Million are in fully online programs.  See full article and survey report for more on the topic.

Do you think traditional college campuses will be replaced by virtual campuses?

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Textbook Publisher Aquires Adaptive Learning Company

McGraw-Hill Education announced on Thursday that it would aquire an adaptive-learning technology developer, ALEKS Corporation.  Adaptive learning provides a personalized learning experience where content adapts to the learner’s knowledge-level.  Early indications of adaptive learning shows increased pass rates, retention and performance.  Sara Grossman of the Chronicle for Higher Education writes of the recent aquisition:

McGraw-Hill Education, one of the largest textbook publishers, announced on Thursday that it would acquire the ALEKS Corporation, a developer of so-called adaptive-learning technology.

The goal of adaptive learning is to create online textbooks that can analyze a student’s reading habits, answers to quizzes, and other details to customize the content that it shows to the student. Several major textbook publishers have embraced the approach in recent years.

Stephen J. Laster, chief digital officer of McGraw-Hill Education, said that the educational-publishing giant had already been working with the ALEKS Corporation for 10 years.

Mr. Laster declined to disclose how much McGraw-Hill was paying for ALEKS, but he said that the acquisition exemplified McGraw-Hill’s larger strategy to “focus on personal and adaptive learning.”

ALEKS’s software monitors a student and then alerts both the student and the professor to topics on which more learning or practice is necessary. The company offers products for behavior science, business, mathematics, and science, but Mr. Laster said McGraw-Hill expected the range of subjects to grow with the acquisition.

“The opportunity to buy ALEKS was really born out of a need … to continue to enhance students’ and teachers’ experience,” Mr. Laster said. McGraw-Hill will “deepen the insights and the information coming out of ALEKS experience to further personalize the student experience.”

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Misunderstanding the Lightning Rod

In the Inside Higher Ed article, “MOOCs as a Lightning Rod”, Tracy Mitrano sums up her thoughts and misunderstandings on MOOCs as a lightning rod to the direction and challenges of higher ed today.
“First, MOOCs are not the problem,  but I do believe that what higher education does with them could be. Second, not  only are MOOCs a lightning rod about everything from the price of college  education to relations between faculty and administration, they are also a  moving target.  They may already or will come to mean different things for  different institutions and constituencies: faculty, staff and students.   Hence so many reactions, so many ideas, so many misunderstandings.  Officially I am neither for nor against them.  Only thinking makes them so …Third, I leverage the discourse to advance my pet ideas about  undergraduate education that I developed almost ten years. At that time, I  referred to it as “global education,” but I am not out to defend names.   The concept is neither “massive” nor “open,” but it is on-line and does  involved accredited institutions and courses.  To promote active learning,  to some degree “flipped classrooms,” international connections within the  process of teaching and learning, and undergraduate information and digital  literacy, I advocate that institutions incentivize faculty through promotion and  tenure of faculty to work with colleagues in institutions around the world,  within and among the disciplines, to create collaborative courses that include  “lecture” as well as facilitated, guided undergraduate research.  More  important than the process is the purpose.  These course may involve “the  basics” (although that there is where a MOOC might come in handy) but they  strive to apply “the basics” to real, contemporary global challenges. What are global challenges?   From an article  I wrote some years ago, here is a sample list:
    • How to work toward environmental sustainability on a comprehensive scale,  including prevention of global warming and of the extinction of many  species.
    • How to create international jurisdiction and substantive law in order to  settle legal disputes.
    • How to shape a developmental model of a global economy that distributes  resources — including education — equitably and fairly around the world.
    • How to inculcate an understanding of local or national culture, history,  and traditions sufficiently to encourage tolerance of each others religions,  manners, and mores.
    • How to deploy all layers (physical, logical, and applications) of the  Internet while also developing international governing bodies and policy  principles for information and communications technologies, including search  engines and the repositories of information and knowledge.
    • How to optimize agricultural research on a global scale in order to  eliminate starvation and hunger.
    • How to research, manage, and treat disease—and thus provide reasonable  health care, including pharmaceuticals — around the world.
    • How to understand the human condition through the study of cross-cultural  and transhistorical art, literature, languages, and humanities.
    • How to live the ethics of scientific research, whether it be the  exploration of outer space (and its expenses, given other needs), particle and  nuclear physics (and the creation of such devastatingly destructive  technologies), Internet and data networking technologies (the use of highly  flawed proprietary operating systems without consequence to the companies making  profit, notwithstanding the consequences that result to users from those flaws),  or genomics and the creation of species for which we do not yet know all of the  intended, or unintended, consequences.”


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Survey Says Support for Online Education Grows in CA

Lisa Hayden of Fremont takes an online class that will satisfy the remedial math requirement at Chico State. She studies via her iPad and iPhone before her son's Little League game in April.

Lisa Hayden of Fremont takes an online class that will satisfy the remedial math requirement at Chico State. She studies via her iPad and iPhone before her son’s Little League game in April. (Peter DaSilva, for The Times)

 In a recent USC Dornsife/L.A. Times poll, which interviewed 1,500 registered California voters by telephone, conducted May 27-June 2 59% of respondents said increasing online classes at public universities will make education more affordable and accessible.   The survey has an overall margin of error of 2.9 percentage points in either direction.  Other findings include:

  • 59% said they agreed with the idea that increasing the number of online classes at California’s public universities will make education more affordable and accessible.
  • 34% expressed fears that expanding online classes will reduce access to professors, diminish the value of college degrees and not save money.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed giving the University of California and California State University systems each $10 million more next year to add online offerings, despite some faculty skepticism. Several California public universities have joined with such commercial providers as Coursera and Udacity for online courses that enroll thousands of students at a time.

Increasing online courses, as long as those classes are not mandatory, was favored across age ranges in the poll. Countering stereotypes that older people might fear technology:

  • 60% of survey respondents over the age of 50 liked the idea
  • 58% of those between 18 and 49 said they did
Lisa Hayden of Fremont takes an online class that will satisfy the remedial math requirement at Chico State. She studies via her iPad and iPhone before her son’s Little League game in April. (Peter DaSilva, for The Times)


Read more here

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WSJ: “Web Courses Woo Professors”

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured the article, Web Courses Woo Professors.  Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn write:

MacArthur Fellowship recipient Daphne Koller, left, and Andrew Ng, co-founders of Coursera, at their Mountain View, Calif., office on Wednesday.Photo by Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

Public universities and systems in nine states say they’ll join a push to greatly expand and improve online learning.

Coursera, a Silicon Valley-based company, is announcing today that it will partner with university systems in Colorado, Georgia, New York, Tennessee and Texas to develop and evaluate the potential of technology that is fueling dramatic changes in how higher education is designed and delivered. Partnerships with several state flagship universities also are being announced, bringing to more than 70 the number of schools or systems working with the company.

Coursera is one of a handful of young companies or non-profit groups that offer an array of free, non-credit, college-level courses to anyone who has an Internet connection and a desire to learn.

Millions of people worldwide have signed up for these massive, open online courses — known as MOOCs. Their key features include short videos and interactive quizzes that provide instant feedback. Some educators worry that colleges and universities are rushing to adopt such technology without considering concerns about quality and impact.

In recent weeks, faculty at Amherst, Harvard, Duke and San Jose State have urged their administrations to use caution. But the involvement of entire state university systems “signals a new level of acceptance of MOOCs,” said George Mehaffy, a vice president at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

“I think that what we’re looking at here is not a job loss but rather a change in a job description to something that I consider to actually be more challenging and more intellectually stimulating than just delivering the lecture,” said Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera.

Still, many critics within academia remain concerned that MOOCs will eventually limit live lectures to the wealthiest schools. Meanwhile, faculty at cash-strapped public or midtier colleges might be displaced by low-paid staff who lead discussions after students have watched lectures from other schools’ star professors online.

Continue reading..

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