NOTE (October 2013): As this was introductory information, I've not been keeping this page up since last year. However, I've added a link to an interesting graphic that looks at the question of how MOOCs make money.

NOTE (May 2012): News and announcements in this area are coming at a furious pace. The instructor for my udacity course was interviewed by ABC News, there have been at least two segments on NPR about this, as well as several articles in the New York Times. This deluge began late last year and is continuing at an ever faster pace. I think perhaps, after all the years of hype about technology and education, we may finally be getting somewhere. And, in the end, it will not be about "the internet in the classroom" or using "educational" games, or anything else under the sun that has already been tried. It will be this: the combination of good teachers, "in your face video", interspersed quizzing, and homework done in class. For a major revolution, which I believe this is, it has not taken all that long: 17 years from the first wide-spread use of the internet.

Salman Khan's TED talk
This is the foundational lecture for all of this. Much in this video directly addresses problems faced by teachers at any level.

Salman Khan on 60 Minutes
Khan started his work at home, helping his own kids. He is now backed by Google, Bill Gates, and others. This man, an MIT grad, inspired Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig to venture off-campus. Of course, the focus in the 60 Minutes segment is on K-12, but his ideas will work anywhere and for almost anything that needs to be taught. AND, the idea of the "flipped classroom" came not from him, but from teachers who used his videos. BUT, he got it immediately. And we need to get it. (Seems to me a course in this technology ought to be a requirement for a degree in education from this point forward.)
CBS: March 11, 2012

Virtual and Artificial, but 58,000 Want Course
Thrun and Norvig offer the first behemoth MOOC course in Artifical Intelligence in the second half of 2011. (This and Khan's efforts have awakened the sleeping giants that are the Ivy League in the US.)
New York Times: August 15, 2011.

Udacity’s model
From an interview with Thrun which appeared under the Reuters banner: it goes into quite some detail about how and why udacity came into being and also talks about why the methodology is so important. "A large part of the success of both Khan’s courses and Thrun’s is the way that they’re presented and executed, rather than any business model behind them. Khan, in particular, is a hugely gifted natural educator. And what both of them aspire to doing is to build what Thrun calls “magic” into the way that they teach. Thrun wants to add another element, too — community. His courses have a start date and an end date and deadlines, with thousands of students all taking the same class at the same time; that makes them inherently social in a way that Khan’s YouTube videos aren’t."
January 31, 2012 (udacity's first class started in February.)

MIT-Harvard: edX Press Conference
Well worth the look and listen for how big this phenomenon is. They call it the "biggest thing since the invention of the printing press" and I happen to agree. Also note, they intend to offer their platform free to other institutions who wish to participate.
NOTE THIS: Rafel Reif, the man who is leading edX at MIT, has just (May 17, 2012) been appointed the next President of MIT. That should tell you a lot about where all this is heading.

From the edX FAQ (Harvard-MIT)
Who can take edX courses? Will there be an admissions process?
edX will be available to anyone in the world with an internet connection, and in general, there will not be an admissions process. For a modest fee, and as determined by the edX board, MIT and Harvard, credentials will be granted only to students who earn them by demonstrating mastery of the material of a subject.

Stanford Prof Starts
It was udacity which introduced me to these new technologies and methodologies. The course was stunning in its ability to make me feel like I was having private lessons, aided by interspersed quizzes, and an online forum. Students formed their own groups at Google Hangout. Here is an introductory piece on the venture..
The Chronicle: January 23, 2012

Sebastian Thrun presentation at DLD
One of the pioneers in this whole phenomenon, Thrun explains at the Digital-Life-Design Conference why he gave up a full Stanford professorship to pursue his ideas.

Could Many Universities Follow Borders Bookstores Into Oblivion?
The University System of Georgia merged four institutions into other ones that were geographically within 50 miles. The programs essentially were replicated. And in an environment in which you’ve got reduced resources, you can’t afford to have essentially identical programs 50 miles apart.
The Chronicle: March 7, 2012, 7:44 pm

The New Yorker
Of all the things he [Hennessy: Stanford President] plans to think hard about, he says, distance learning tops the list. Stanford, like newspapers and music companies and much of traditional media a little more than a decade ago, is sailing in seemingly placid waters. But Hennessy’s digital experience alerts him to danger. He says, "There’s a tsunami coming.”
April 30, 2012

Harvard joins MIT in edX
The Chronicle: 2 May 2012

Groups Team Up to Turn Free Online Courses Into Cheap College Credit
The Chronicle: May 9, 2012, 12:01 am
There is a very interesting discussion following this article.

Purdue Kicks Off Global Online-Education Project
PurdueHUB-U grew out of a course taught this year on Purdue’s nanoHUB, a collaborative platform for nanotechnology research. The course, on the fundamentals of nanoelectronics, was broken into two parts that lasted a few weeks each. It attracted 900 students from 27 countries, most of whom paid $30 for the class and a certificate of completion. Students also had the option to turn their certificates into continuing-education credits for an additional $195.
The Chronicle: May 11, 2012, 6:02 pm

Boom-time for Educational Start-ups
A run-down on what's happening on the business end of things as companies strive to at least get on the curve, if not the leading edge.
The Chronicle: May 16, 2012

From a report on “Open Learning”, 2007:
Open e-Learning Content Observatory Services (OLCOS), funded by the European Commission under the eLearning Programme (
Document available from the link below, under
Activity 1 > View document
(the pdf is 150 pages)
(NOTE the date of this report.)§ion=1.1

It is widely accepted that certain core competencies are essential for individuals to participate successfully within a knowledge-based society. They core competences which learners should strive to acquire, are: self-direction and creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, collaborative team-work and communication skills. These competencies are not always fostered and encouraged when educational institutions and teachers base their instruction on a model in which the teachers are perceived as dispensers of knowledge.

This model of teaching has been criticised by many education experts and practitioners, and it has often been discussed that an educational revolution is needed and could be stimulated through the use of e-learning methods, new educational tools and web-accessible media-rich content. Such a revolution has not occurred so far because the educational innovations hoped for require a new educational culture and mind-set as well as overcoming considerable organisational barriers within the established education institutions.

In fact, it expects that within those institutions a shift towards competency-based and learner-centered education will be slow to occur. Open educational resources are among the potential enablers of such a shift, but only if educational policies and organisational frameworks empower teachers and learners to make good use of such resources.

[In my opinion, we now have in our hands what this report says was lacking.]


NOTE: In the course of preparing my presentation I have tried so many pieces of software that I've lost count. What is here is the best of the bunch. Rejected programs, like Adobe Captivate, are missing some major features, or have a learning curve that is (in my opinion) indicative of bad design. (Active Presenter also falls into this category.) Keep in mind, this is a new area; other software will no doubt become available.

Wacom Tablet - $60
Description on the Wacom site. Link to the tablet at It comes with Photoshop Elements and Autodesk, both excellent pieces of software. This is your whiteboard which, as you write using SmoothDraw (see below), is recorded as a video using Camtasia Studio (also below). (PC, MAC, Linux)

Camtasia Studio
I really wanted to find less expensive software, but in the end, when you need recording software AND editing software AND conversion software, learning one program is preferable. Camtasia Studio contains all these tools and is very well-designed and quite intuitive to use. If you haven't used a video editor before, that part might be a bit of a curve, but if you have a colleague who has done video editing, they will be able to get you going on that aspect easily within a half hour. Plus, Camtasia Studio has an academic license which gets you a healthy discount. Ends up costing $179. But, believe me, it is worth it. No matter what you experiment with now (May 2012), it is more than likely that you will end up with this software. It is just plain good and does what it says it will. (PC and MAC)

SmoothDraw is Free (PC only)
The third essential piece of the technology is Free. SmoothDraw is a very sensitive drawing screen which displays what you write on your Bamboo tablet in a clear white area on the screen. It is that area which is captured by Camtasia Studio. It is for PCs only, but anyone with a MAC or, for that matter, a PC, already has a drawing program--MACpaint, paint, or can get one as Freeware from safe places like or Just note that one of the requirements for lecturing purposes is that the drawing software needs to be sensitive enough so that when you dab the pen on the tablet, it instantly translates to the dot over an 'i'.

Snagit for Screen Capture
As you become more comfortable with the above tools, you will start to realize how incredibly versatile this technology is. Ideas will start barreling in about what you can add to your lectures, how easily you can add material from other disciplines. Unlike most screen capture tools, Snagit is customizable which means you can set up recipes for your captures so that you don't have to touch them again and can immediately add them to your video presentations. It comes free with Camtasia Studio. (PC and MAC)

With the tablet: Experiment Before Spending More Money

This can record your screen and make your video. I started with this and SmoothDraw and had my first (hopelessly inadequate) video in under 20 minutes from turning on the laptop and plugging in the tablet. With this, and a paint or drawing program (see above) you can get a feel for what is involved. I found that the most difficult part will be to talk and write "on the board" at the same time. While this is easy and comes naturally in the classroom, it is not easy when you are alone in a room. I strongly recommend a script! But, in the interest of communicating well--don't read it. When you try this, you will see why the ability to edit is vital. I spend half my time removing pauses!

NOTE: I am primarily a Linux user, firing up Windows only when I have to. Unfortunately, video tools of the nature discussed here are only available in a very rudimentary state. I'm hoping that will soon change, but for now what we need to do must be confined to PCs and MACs.

Courses: Free for the Taking

Coursera: The Stanford Courses
Wide spectrum of offerings in various disciplines.

udacity: Sebastian Thrun's Venture
Completely computer science oriented.

Example course currently on MIT's OpenCourseWare
It's a Computer Science class which has been filmed. This is a good example of a transitional method, and can certainly be used to flip the classroom, BUT, lacking the integration of quizzes, it falls short of the holy grail. (I intend to take this course.)

The Khan Academy For Kids and Casual Learning
Lessons on myriad subjects. And you can contribute. (Bill Gates has backed Khan Academy substantially.)

A Prime Example of voice over video
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks The approach of audio recorded on top of a slide show (NOT PowerPoint) will be more suitable for many disciplines that whiteboard writing. This is also a much easier technology to master: Make your slide show timed at the pace of what you have to say, set it going, and speak about the images as the slide show is being captured as a video.

Nothing for Linux
Sadly, the video recording/editing software for Linux is very limited, and more often than not contains serious issues which prevent it being at all useful or even usable. I'm hoping some distro team wakes up soon to what is happening and that, given this state of video affairs, all of Linux is on its way to missing this boat.

Not Yet Investigated in Depth

Online quizzing (real time):
For numerical, algebraic, textual, or graphical response, or just plain multiple choice

Moving class lectures to the web
TechSmith also has software (Camtasia Relay) for moving presentations to the web and would be worth investigating as you move toward the "holy grail".

From TED talks has also jumped into the fray. Not surprising. They have set up a site where you can integrate their pre-formed questions into their videos. AND, apparently, you can also upload your own videos and add questions to them. HOWEVER, there appears to be almost no user instructions and it is not intuitive. I was not able to easily use the tools. It is very new, and definitely should be watched. But, I think, it is not yet ready for prime time. I hope they are working furiously on this aspect of their offerings.

Udemy out of San Francisco
There is an overview in this Chronicle article. "Udemy was co-founded by Eren Bali, who grew up in eastern Turkey, near the Iraqi border. No one there could help him pursue his passion for mathematics. So he went online, scouring the Web for bits and pieces of knowledge. Now he wants Udemy to make this task far easier for people like him. The site is continually adding new tools for teachers, including live chat with students, moderated discussion groups, and sophisticated presentation software, all free. ... In just the past few months, faculty from colleges including Dartmouth, Vassar, Colgate, and Duke have signed on." [I did check enough to notice that they say nothing about integrated quizzing. And, I don't think this is rigorous enough for our purposes.] AND, the last few paragraphs of The Chronicle article are well worth the read for what the future might hold.
The Chronicle: 20 May, 2012

University Alliance
UVM is listed as one of their participating universities; their offerings are in the area of sustainability. Heavy emphasis on the UA site is in Business Education. Other participating institutions are Villanova and Notre Dame. They create the online production of the whole course in tandem with the instructor. I checked out a few of these, and was not "turned-on" as I am with the udacity/Stanford/MIT courses, or, for that matter, Khan's lessons. Contact person for the UVM participation at UA is Andrew Rosenbaum. His email is andrew-rosenbaum AT universityalliance DOT com.

You will no doubt have noticed the absence of any mention of a web cam. Well, it's because, while I bought one for researching this presentation, I've not had time to work with it. For the curious, the one I bought was a Logitech c310. It works on Windows and comes with video and photo capture and something called MAGIX photo and video editing software. The reason for Windows (remember I'm a Linux user) is that the laptop I use for teaching has the Windows OS.

Contact Clair Dunn
using her contact page.