Category Archives: Startups


edX Adds a Second Tier of Members

edX has been trying to figure out how to build more courses, more quickly, without losing its exclusive atmosphere. Now it’s settled on a plan.

In December, The Chronicle obtained materials from an internal presentation suggesting that the nonprofit provider of massive open online courses was worried that it would not be able to grow as fast as it wanted to while maintaining a “small cohesive feel.” The presentation proposed an expansion of edX’s members-only approach that would create a second …


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…


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

The University of California at Davis is testing a new Davis-oriented 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 …


British University to Accept Bitcoin as Payment for Some Courses

The University of Cumbria, a seven-year-old institution in Britain, said on Tuesday it would accept Bitcoin as payment for some courses, the latest in a growing list of companies and organizations around the world that use the virtual currency.

The move is an exercise in learning by doing, university officials said in a written statement. Bitcoin, a decentralized currency exchanged on the Internet without an intermediary such as a bank or broker, will be accepted for two certificate program…


Textbook Publishers Settle Suit Against Boundless, Digital Start-Up Company

Three big textbook publishers and Boundless, a digital-textbook start-up company, have reached a confidential settlement of a lawsuit that the three publishers filed last year, when they accused Boundless of distributing “‘replacement textbooks’ that are created from, based upon, and overwhelmingly similar to” textbooks from the companies—Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, and Macmillan Higher Education.

The publishers’ suit alleged that Boundless had boasted that “they copy the precise select…


Academics to Udacity Founder: Told Ya

In a new magazine profile of Sebastian Thrun, the Udacity founder calls his company’s massive open online courses a “lousy product” to use for educating underprepared college students. That assertion has prompted a chorus of I-told-you-sos from his critics in academe.

In interviews for the Fast Company profile, Mr. Thrun reflected on the discouraging results of an experiment at San Jose State University in which instructors used Udacity’s online platform to teach mathematics. Some of the stude…


Minerva College Start-Up Hires Academic Leaders

The Minerva Schools at KGI, an online liberal-arts-college start-up scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, is building out its administrative ranks.

The for-profit venture said on Tuesday that James D. Sterling, vice president for academic affairs at the Keck Graduate Institute—the KGI of the name—has been named director of Minerva Labs. Mr. Sterling will also serve as interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences for Minerva. Eric Bonabeau, a complex-systems expert and founder of the I…


Universities Foster Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Federal Report Says

A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce has found that universities around the country promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration among students, faculty members, and industries across multiple sectors.

On Tuesday the department released a report on its findings, “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University: Higher Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Focus.” Based on interviews with more than 130 officials in higher education, it examines how universities are influencin…


Free Digital-Textbook Venture at Rice U. Adds Users and Titles

A little more than one year after its debut, the digital-textbook program OpenStax College is set to expand by adding a sixth title to its slate of free online textbooks.

OpenStax, a nonprofit group based at Rice University, will add an introductory-statistics text in October. Five additional titles will be available for download by 2015, according to officials.

OpenStax doubled the number of professors adopting its textbooks during the past four months, bringing the total to 319 at 297 college…


Milliron Quits Western Governors U.-Texas for Civitas Learning

After a year and a half as chancellor of Western Governors University-Texas, Mark D. Milliron is leaving to work full time at Civitas Learning, the Austin-based “predictive analytics” company that he helped start.

Mark Milliron (Civitas Learning photo)

Mark Milliron (Civitas Learning photo)

Mr. Milliron, who was deputy director for postsecondary improvement at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation before assuming the WGU-Texas job, will become chief learning officer for Civitas, working alongside his co-founder, Charles Thornburgh, wh…