Educational Technologies: Introduction

  • CETLI Primer — A concise introduction to many of the terms related to emerging educational technologies, from MOOCs to flipped classrooms, and from badges to learning analytics. Prepared by CETLI for the BU community (BU Login required).
  • CETLI FAQs — Frequently asked questions (and answers) compiled by CETLI (BU Login required).
  • CETLI Noteworthy Blog — A frequently updated blog of news, essays, and editorials on online education.

On the State and Future of Higher Education

Technology as a Transformative Force in Education

The following are early articles and editorials on how technology may transform education and the economics of education. Additional and more recent articles and editorials are available through The CETLI Noteworthy Blog (updated frequently).

Online Education: Articles and Blogs

The following are good starting points for information about on-line education in general and about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in particular. Additional and more recent articles and editorials are available through The CETLI Noteworthy Blog (updated frequently).

Massive Open Online Courses: Offerings and Platforms

The following are descriptions of some of the major MOOC players — some offer a platform as well as courses on these platforms, whereas others only provide the platform.

  • edX — A nonprofit effort run jointly by MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and U Texas, Austin. edX intends to add other university partners over time and to eventually give away for free the software platform it is building, so that anyone can use it to run MOOCs. edX has announced that it plans to use testing services to award certificates to students who are able to pass these tests.
  • Coursera — A for-profit Stanford start-up company that signs non-exclusive contracts with colleges that agree to use the platform to offer free courses, and to split any revenue derived from such offerings. The company allows universities to use its platform for courses offered on-line exclusively to students in that university, or openly to anybody worldwide.
  • Khan Academy — A non-profit organization founded by MIT and Harvard graduate Salman Khan who in 2006 started an online library of short instructional YouTube videos to help his cousins in India. The library, which has grown to over 3,000 YouTube videos, received financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google. Khan Academy is geared toward secondary-education students, offering automated practice exercises.
  • Udacity — A for-profit Stanford start-up company that works with individual professors rather than institutions. Unlike other providers of MOOCs, Udacity indicated that (at least for now) it will focus all of its courses on computer science and related fields.
  • — Formerly This company partners with institutions of higher education to deliver rigorous, selective degree programs online to students globally. It primarily serves as an online platform to expand graduate programs.
  • Udemy — A for-profit company that offers a platform to let anyone set up a course. The company encourages its instructors to charge a small fee, with the revenue split between instructor and company.
  • Venture Lab — An effort out of Stanford University, which offers the primary platforms used at Stanford to offer free online courses. Venture Lab’s philosophy is to make online engaging by making them more experiential, interactive, and collaborative.
  • Class2Go — Stanford Online’s internal platform, designed to be an open platform for online learning and research.  The platform is open source to allow others to contribute to it and extend it. It is built to leverage other offerings, such as Khan Academy.
  • Trunity — Trunity provides a secure, collaborative on-line learning environment to create, manage, and share knowledge. Trunity’s Learning Platform targets education (K12 & Higher Ed), enterprises, and publishers.
  • WizIQ — A for-profit company that offers an online learning platform that is designed to help students and teachers find each other, and to provide an online virtual classroom learning environment. WizIQ offers features similar to many e-learning and web conferencing platforms, such as screen sharing, chat rooms, etc.
  • Class Central — A a free MOOC aggregator from top universities like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, etc. offered via Coursera, Udacity, edX, Canvas Network, & others.
  • CoursePin — A social learning platform, which allows educators and students of all kinds to create, organize, and share academic material, including private content as well as educational blog, videos, audio, twitter feeds, slides shows and other resources publicly available on the web.
  • — A site that compiles and offers reviews for MOOCs.

Credentialing Platforms

  • Mozilla Open Badges — A digital badge is an online representation of a skill; Open Badges takes that concept one step further, and allows skill verification through a credible organization. Because the system is based on an open standard, it is possible to combine multiple badges from different issuers both online and offline. Employers, organizations and schools can explore the data behind every badge issued using Mozilla Open Badges to verify individuals’ skills and competencies.

Other On-line Curricular Models

  • Straighterline — This for-profit company offers online (distance learning) courses for college credit. The credit earned can be transferred most colleges or to one of our partner colleges. The rate is $99/month (+$39/course) or $999/year for 10 courses. Students can start any time and go at their own pace and transfer the credits to partner colleges afterwards.
  • Western Governors University — An online university driven by a mission to expand access to higher education through online, competency-based degree programs. Competencies are developed with industry experts. The WGU faculty identifies the best existing courses and acquires the rights to use them. Students also have accelerated degree options.
  • University of the People — A tuition-free online university dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education. Designed for students with financial, geographic, or societal constraints.
  • The Minerva Project — a start-up company that is setting up an online university (slated to open in 2014) in which students live together in “dorm clusters” so that they will benefit from the social aspects of university life.
  • Semester On Line — offers rigorous, online, for-credit undergraduate courses through a consortium of top-tier colleges and universities. The program (starting in Fall 2013) will be delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U featuring primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
  • MOOC2Degreee –Launched by Academic Partnerships for “public universities to offer credit-bearing MOOCs as a first step and a free start toward earning a degree.”

Online Teaching Aids and Tools (for Instructors)

  • Connexions — A place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute.
  • OpenStax College — A nonprofit organization that offers free online textbooks that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of typical courses covering the subject matter.
  • peerScholar — An online pedagogical tool that helps develop students’ critical- and creative-thinking skills through series of writing, evaluating, and reflecting exercises.
  • SimSchool — A classroom simulation that supports the rapid accumulation of a teacher’s experience in analyzing student differences, adapting instruction to individual needs, gathering data about the impacts of instruction, and seeing the results of their teaching.
  • ProctorU — ProctorU is a live online proctoring service for students taking exams online. Proctors use a three-step process to replicate the face-to-face proctoring experience over the internet, using webcams to monitor students remotely, among other capabilities.

Learning Environments and Tools (for Students)

  • Knewton Math Readiness — A web-based course for getting up to speed on college-level math. It allows students to go at their own pace and encourages them with points and badges. The program also works on improving test skills. It contains short videos and explanations as well as allowing faculty access to student trends on the site.
  • OpenStudy — A social learning network where students ask questions, give help, and connect with other students studying the same things. Their mission is to make the world one large study group, regardless of school, location, or background.
  • Persistence Plus – “weight watchers” of college completion — Persistence Plus uses behavior interventions called “nudges” to help students with studying techniques (i.e. study skills, how to organize time and responsibilities and how to deal with academic setbacks). The technique relies on positive peer academic pressure and uses data to identify students who need active outreach.
  • Parchment — A service that allows students to research colleges and discover their chances of admission, see how they compare with peers, get college recommendations, and send official transcripts when they are ready to apply.
  • Tutor Vista — Tutoring and mentoring is available on demand, 24/7. The programs match mentors with their mentees and allows for flexible scheduling.
  • Smarthinking — Tutoring and mentoring is available on demand, 24/7. The programs match mentors with their mentees and allows for flexible scheduling.
  • The Vitual High School Collaborative — A non-profit organization that supports online and blended learning in high schools and middle schools across the country and around the world.

BU Educational Technology Services

The IS&T Educational Technology team works with faculty and academic staff to enhance use of a number of relevant services.

  • Blackboard — Product for managing online course content.
  • Digication e-Portfolio — Service to showcase work and academic accomplishments of faculty and students to the world.
  • Classroom Recording with Echo360 — Service to record any combination of audio, video, and computer screens and easily publish to the Web.
  • iTunes U — Distribute audio, video, and PDF documents through iTunes.
  • Audience Response with TurningPoint — Audience Response System that allows students to actively participate in classes and presentations.
  • Turnitin — A plagiarism detection service sponsor sponsored by CEIT.