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Tech Headlines for May 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

Recent tech headlines include MIT and Harvard study on MOOCs, LinkedIn to acquire lynda.com, and new infographic on business e-learning trends. 

Harvard and MIT Conduct Massive Study on MOOCs 

A new joint Harvard and MIT research report, HarvardX and MITx: Two Years of Open Online Courses Fall 2012-Summer 2014, offers one of the largest investigations of MOOCs (massive open online courses), examining 68 certificate-granting courses, 1.7 million participants, 10 million participant-hours, and 1.1 billion participant-logged events. 

Andrew Ho, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and chair of the HarvardX research committee, along with MIT’s Isaac Chuang, professor of physics, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and senior associate director of digital learning, led the group effort that:

  • delved into  the demographics of MOOC learners
  • analyzed participant intent
  • looked at patterns that “serial MOOCers” tend to pursue. 

To conduct the study, the researchers redefined their population of learners from those who simply registered for courses (and took no subsequent action) — a metric used in prior findings and often cited by MOOC providers — to those who participated (such as logging into the course at least once). 
A major key finding of the study is the almost half of registrants were not interested in or were unsure about certification. Among the one-third of participants who responded to a survey about their intentions, 57 percent stated their desire to earn a certificate; nearly a quarter of those respondents went on to do so. Further, among participants who were unsure or did not intend to earn a certificate, 8 percent ultimately did. These learners appear to have been inspired to finish a MOOC even after initially stating that they had no intention of doing so.

In addition, Chuang and Ho identified questions that might “reset and reorient expectations” around MOOCs. First, while many MOOC creators and providers have increased access to learning opportunities, those who are accessing MOOCs are disproportionately people who already have college and graduate degrees. The researchers tell the Harvard Gazette that they do not necessarily see this as a problem, as academic experience may be a requirement in advanced courses. 

“These free, open courses are phenomenal opportunities for millions of learners,” Ho emphasized, “but equity cannot be increased just by opening doors. We hope that our data help teachers and institutions to think about their intended audiences, and serve as a baseline for charting progress.” 

2015 Business E-Learning Trends Infographic 

The 2015 Business E-Learning Trends infographic compiled by 24x7 Learning presents six trends that will be setting the stage for the business world in 2015. These trends actually show that e-learning trends are changing and evolving with increasing speed.


LinkedIn to Acquire lynda.com for $1.5 Billion 

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 300 million members worldwide, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire lynda.com, a leading online learning company teaching business, technology and creative skills to help people achieve their professional goals. Based in Carpinteria, California, lynda.com was co-founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin. 

The transaction is valued at approximately $1.5 billion, subject to adjustment, in a combination of approximately 52 percent cash and approximately 48 percent stock.  Subject to the completion of customary conditions, the acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter of 2015.

“The mission of LinkedIn and the mission of lynda.com are highly aligned,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. “Both companies seek to help professionals be better at what they do. lynda.com’s extensive library of premium video content helps empower people to develop the skills needed to accelerate their careers. When integrated with the hundreds of millions of members and millions of jobs on LinkedIn, lynda.com can change the way in which people connect to opportunity.” 

Through a subscription to lynda.com’s service, individual members and organizations have access to a comprehensive collection of top quality courses taught by industry experts, offered in English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese. In addition to individual subscribers, lynda.com serves corporate, government and educational organizations through its lyndaEnterprise, lyndaPro, lyndaCampus, lyndaLibrary and lyndaKiosk products. As a leader of owned and operated premium skills content, lynda.com offers a massive library of high-quality courses. 

"This is such an exciting moment in the 20-year history of lynda.com and I couldn't imagine a better pairing than lynda.com and LinkedIn," said Lynda Weinman, co-founder and executive chair of the board of lynda.com. 

"In LinkedIn, we have found an incredible partner who shares our vision and passion for empowering people around the world to make real change in their lives through access to information, learning and professional development," said Eric Robison, CEO of lynda.com. 

Following closing, most members of the lynda.com team are expected to join LinkedIn. 



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About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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