Category Archives: Company Watch

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QuickWire: Participants Vote to End 2U Semester Online

Following the defection of several participating universities, the online-course provider 2U and its remaining partners in the experimental Semester Online program have decided to shut it down following this summer’s courses. Semester Online promised to offer live online class sessions from prestigious institutions, but after uneasy faculty members at institutions like Duke University and Washington University in St. Louis forced administrators to back away from the experiment, the remaining par…

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Apollo Education Group Starts Nontraditional Course Catalog

The Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, is starting a website to help people find courses that teach skills they need to land specific jobs in the technology industry. Call it a course catalog for nontraditional courses, most of which have no connection to colleges’ degree programs.

The website, called Balloon and announced on Tuesday, will be pitched to adult learners who want to pick up skills that have been flagged by technology companies as requirements f…

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QuickWire: E-Textbook Provider CourseSmart Is Bought by Ingram

A big fish in the education-media world has been swallowed by an even bigger fish.

CourseSmart, a major provider of electronic textbook content, has been acquired by the Ingram Content Group, a media company that supplies books and music to thousands of retailers across the world. CourseSmart was created in 2007 by the “big five” textbook companies as an online marketplace for their digital content.

The Ingram group also distributes educational content, through Vital Source Technologies, a subsi…

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QuickWire: Online-Education Platform 2U Inc. Plans to Go Public

2U Inc., an online-education platform that counts the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Southern California among its clients, filed plans on Friday for an initial public offering of up to $100-million in common stock.

The company did not disclose the stock’s IPO price. The money will be used to expand student enrollment and to fund technology and content development, the company said.

2U develops and services cloud-based education software used by colleges to deliver co…

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Bitcoin Gift to U. of Puget Sound Could Be a First

The University of Puget Sound, a private institution in Tacoma, Wash., has received a $10,000 Bitcoin donation that could be the first to a college in the United States. The digital currency was transferred to the university last week and converted into dollars using the e-commerce processor BitPay.

The gift was made by Nicolas Cary, chief executive of the Bitcoin site Blockchain and a Puget Sound alumnus. He said he had always wanted to give back to the university and had used Bitcoin becaus…

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QuickWire: Pearson Offers a Badge Platform

Pearson, the publishing heavyweight that now calls itself “the world’s leading learning company,” announced on Thursday that it would follow Mozilla’s creation last year of an open standard for badges that recognize educational or professional achievement by offering a proprietary badge platform based on Mozilla’s standards.

For the new platform, which Pearson is calling Acclaim, the company will “work with academic institutions and high-stakes credentialing organizations to offer diplomas, cert…

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QuickWire: A Booming Business Based on Plagiarism

Turnitin.com has conducted a “research study” of its own effectiveness in discouraging plagiarism, and perhaps not surprisingly it reported on Wednesday that it’s doing a great job.

“Colleges and universities using Turnitin reduced unoriginal writing by 39 percent over the course of the study,” the company said. The report is vague, however, about whether there was a lot of plagiarism to start with, or just a little. All it says for sure is that there’s less now.

What’s more interesting is that …

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U. of California-Davis Teams Up With Amazon to Create Online Storefront

The University of California at Davis is testing a new Davis-oriented Amazon.com storefront that funnels a portion of its revenue to the university. About 2 percent of the value of each sale goes to the university on most transactions started through the storefront, which features campus-themed clothing, organic snacks, and popular films in addition to books, textbooks, video games, and such dorm-room necessities as laundry hampers and storage bins.

The one-year pilot started in September and …

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Blackboard Software Will Incorporate Virtual College Bookstore

The learning-management behemoth Blackboard is getting into the virtual-campus-bookstore business.

This semester the company is testing a system in which a faculty member can visit the new online bookstore to search for and select materials for her course—including new, used, or rental books, e-books, open-source content, material the faculty member wrote herself, and more. When a student visits the bookstore, he’ll find the course materials for all his classes waiting in an online shopping cart…

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Coursera Will Offer Certificates for Sequences of MOOCs

Coursera will soon offer credentials for more than just individual MOOCs. The company, which provides hosting and support for massive open online courses, announced on Tuesday that it planned to give certificates to students who take sequences of MOOCs from its university partners.

“You might think of it as a real-world ‘major’ with immediate applications to career advancement and life skills,” the company said in a blog post.

The new program, called Specializations, will include certificates in…