Category Archives: Professors

@GeorgeMasonU Alumni @GloboxRentals Launch International Film Kiosk Startup

{DISCLOSURE: I have worked closely with this startup and am mentioned in the article below and am pictured} Great piece on Mason born and Mason Alumni run startup Globox Rentals, a kiosk DVD rental service making top international films available to various consumer markets. The team recently placed its first 10 kiosks, including one in the Johnson Center — the student union @GeorgeMasonU. From Rashad Mulla of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences:

This “Globox” movie rental kiosk, which stands over 8 feet tall, is the pride and joy of Asad R. Ali and Sammy Kassim, the entrepreneurs at the heart of the brand new international film rental company, “Globox Rentals.”

Globox makes movies available for rent through vending kiosks, much like the multi-billion dollar rental service Redbox, but with one big difference: Globox specializes in new and popular international cinema, from more than 100 countries worldwide. This summer, Globox launched its first 10 kiosks, located in the Johnson Center, at various international grocers in Virginia Fairfax, Falls Church, Mt. Vernon, Woodbridge, and Arlington and a 7-Eleven convenience store in Bowie, Md.

“There are a lot of good international titles, content, and movies out there,” Kassim explained. “There just wasn’t an easy avenue for most of the customers and consumers to get that content.”

Today, the Globox team consists of co-founders Ali who studied in both the School of Management and the Department of Economics and Kassim BS ’11, Management, and fellow Mason alumni Ricky Singh BS ’11, Information Systems and Operations Management and Brittany Hill BA ’12, Art and Visual Technology. The Alexandria, Va.-based company appears to be riding a wave of momentum heading into the fall. But to get the ball rolling, Ali and Kassim had to put in a lot of work, and make a couple of unconventional decisions that required passion, drive and, simply put, bravery.

via College of Humanities and Social Sciences | News: World Cinema at Your Fingertips: Young Alumni Start “Globox Rentals” Business.

Has Online Education Won Wonders Daniel Pianko @UniVenturesFund

Just received the latest University Ventures letter with a piece, “You Won”, by Daniel Pianko. He explains that his tenured professor brother has acknowledged the future is online and that #highered is going to get whipped by educational equivalents of Amazon and Uber:

As colleges and universities face off against new technology, how does this game compare with the one retailers and taxi drivers have been playing?

It’s true that three million American students – nearly 1 in 6 enrolled at colleges and universities – are earning degrees entirely online, without setting foot on campus. But they are doing so at accredited universities (nearly all regionally accredited). Students haven’t fled the system for an Uber- or Amazon-alternative. Overall enrollment is up 18% over the past 5 years. And new private sector universities (i.e., publicly traded companies like Apollo Group, parent of University of Phoenix), which had seemed on a path to market domination, have experienced enrollment declines.

At the same time, my brother sees clouds on the horizon. As Ben Nelson, the founder of the Minerva Project, explained to me, about 100,000 students at the University of California and California State University systems take Psychology 101 each year. Psychology 101 is a first year lecture class with, on average, over 200 students in each class. That’s 100,000 students, at an average of $1,500 of revenue per student per class. So Psych 101 generates $150M in revenue at a cost of delivery that can’t possibly exceed $50M. As a result, the California systems generate $100,000,000 of gross margin (i.e., profit) on Psych 101 – a contribution that is used to support other activities in the systems. What happens, my brother rightly and fairly asks, when new entrants like StraighterLine and UniversityNow push the price UC and CSU can charge for Psych 101 to the actual cost of delivery? What will UC and CSU have to cut?

That last question… what goes away? Is that the only question? How about… what can get added that people will pay for? Or are their new customers for the traditional goods (face to face interactions, dorms, extra curricular activities?). There is lots of opportunity out there!

The Future of the Classroom | Fortune Tech | Hack Edu

Can you text your Professor or TA at any hour? Will they respond? What is the future or the classroom and the relationship between instructors and students? From Scott Olster, editor of Fortune Tech:

The market for mobile education—which encompasses everything from e-books to courses delivered to tablets and learning management software—is currently worth $3.4 billion, according to a 2012 study by GSMA, an association of mobile operators, and consultants McKinsey & Co. The market, which includes device sales like Apple (AAPL) iPads and Google (GOOG) Android-based tablets, is expected to be worth $70 billion by 2020.

But despite all the hoopla over gadgets and new software, the future of education really hinges on the shifting roles of teacher and student. “The main shift is away from what I’ll call a teacher-in-classroom-centric model,” explains Scott Benson, a program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Instead, Benson says students will learn at their own pace, using software that adapts to their strengths and weaknesses. In other words: aided by emerging technology, the teacher-student relationship—and the classroom itself—will be remade. That is the coming education revolution.

Later in the piece:

With billions of dollars in potential business from schools and universities, education companies have plenty of incentive to get in now. But it goes beyond just digital textbooks and apps. For many of these companies, the educational business battle to come will center on student data.

Ideally, every move a student makes in a digital course will be tracked and analyzed to not only change a program to meet a student’s current needs, but to track a student’s progress—and determine their educational needs—not just during a given course, but throughout their lives.

“Collecting data, having a student profile that goes from kindergarten through professional [life] is where we want to invest,” says Jay Chakrapani, general manager in charge of digital products at McGraw Hill Higher Education. So, as the concept of “finishing school” at college graduation goes by the wayside, many consider the kind of data collection project Chakrapani is talking about the holy grail for the education business.

“The old model of getting educated in four years and coasting for the next 40 years” is growing increasingly less relevant, says Andrew Ng, co-CEO and co-founder of online education startup Coursera, which offers free online courses from universities like Stanford, Princeton, and Duke. “In the 40 years we continue to work, tech will allow us to continue to learn in a way that wasn’t available.”

via The future of the classroom – Fortune Tech.

Startup Weekend Leaders Join our Lean MOOC Experiment | AshokaU | GMU | #socent

Over the past 6 weeks I have been fortunate to work on developing and teaching a  MOOC (massive open online course) titled Entrepreneurship and Globalization: Making the Most of 21st Century Opportunity. This effort did not take years of planning or a $60 million dollar partnership or the removal of a university president.

Led by GMU’s Phil Auerswald, Erin Krampetz of Ashoka U, Michael Youngblood (Innovations Journal) and me, we have quickly stood up this course as a joint effort of Ashoka U and GMU’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Tonight our experiment rolls on and Mark Nager and Franck Nouyrigat of Startup Weekend join us via our live audio feed. Our session this week is on Lean Startup ideas and methods. You can listen to the class live here.

In standing up class this class we have adapted the syllabus from the class of the same title being taught by Prof Auerswald to graduate students in GMU’s School of Public Policy this summer.

We are using low cost and free resources such as Bookneto, Google +, BlogTalkRadio, and Twitter. Our hashtag, btw, is #AshokUOnline. We are going to award certificates and are talking to various third parties around badges related to skills and tools covered in the course and the assignments.

We have made some mistakes along the way and will make a few more, but in the true spirit of lean methods and customer development we have continually engaged our customers.

Moreover, we have tried to embrace the spirit of MOOCS, watching and learning as participants take the lead (for example a number of students have met in NYC and other locations to discuss readings and projects for the class).

Feel free to join us live tonight and get in on the conversation on twitter during and after the live stream with Mark and Franck of Startup Weekend. Listen here.

Colleges Become Startup Factories | Crain’s New York Business

Phil Auerswald (The Coming Prosperity) shared a great piece by Steve Garmhausen of Crain’s New York on the city/region’s universities and colleges. From Garmhausen:

“One of the greatest gifts you can give an entrepreneur is time,” said Mr. Parthasarathi, co-founder of CourseHorse, an online catalog of classes available in New York City, from dance and acting to computer programming.

But money wasn’t all that NYU’s Stern School of Business provided the pair. Throughout the months-long process, they received extensive coaching and mentoring from a total of 20 veteran entrepreneurs and other experts. The result is a business that has generated revenue from the day it opened, said Mr. Parthasarathi.

And Mr. Parthasarathi’s story is not an isolated one: In recent years, New York’s colleges and universities have ratcheted up their commitment to supporting budding entrepreneurs. With courses, mentoring, networking and cash awards, they are growing crops of would-be entrepreneurs that they say are far better prepared than their predecessors.

One of the latest manifestations of the trend: the February launch, by Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, of an entrepreneurship lab that aims to facilitate collaborations between students in schools as diverse as nursing and business. Continue reading

Higher Ed Start-Up Teams With Top Universities to Offer ‘Free’ Courses

Nick DeSantis at the Chronicle of Higher Education has a really great piece on Coursera and some new university partnership announcement. The article explores some major players and their actions.

I have worked for 3 ‘internet startups’ over the past 14 years (my first .com was in 1999) and the two that relied on ‘free’ models (even with ‘freemium services’) did not survive. The one with a simple, clear business model that demanded payment up front is alive and pretty profitable (not Google, but a nice business that employees 25 people and provides value to customers). From DeSantis:

Coursera, the online-education outfit founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, will grow its course platform through official partnerships with three more top-tier institutions, the company announced today. Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Stanford will use Coursera’s technology to offer a mix of classes including computer science, business, and literature. The young company already serves seven courses, and about 30 more will be rolled out later this week and through the summer.The courses are offered free to anyone online, though students cannot earn university credit. Ms. Koller said Coursera will leave the choice to award unofficial credentials like certificates of accomplishment up to its partner institutions. And students cannot interact with the professors directly—for feedback, they can use an online forum to ask and rank questions, where popular submissions rise to the top. Quizzes embedded in the course videos test students’ understanding of the material as they go along.Ms. Koller said that in addition to opening courses to the entire world, Coursera’s platform could allow professors to build a better face-to-face experience by “flipping” their classrooms. Under this model, interactive classroom instruction replaces the traditional lecture, which is presented in other formats for students to absorb outside of class.“Our vision is that this kind of technology is going to improve the experience for both populations,” she said.Ms. Koller pointed to her own experience using the flipped classroom to explain why students would choose to pay top dollar to attend institutions like Stanford and Penn instead of simply getting their education free using Coursera’s platform. She said one of her classes has long been recorded and televised, partly because of Stanford’s need to support students who take courses through a continuing-education program at the university. Attendance would typically drop to about 30 percent of enrollment by the third or fourth week, she said.

Later on some more interesting information from DeSantis:

Other emerging providers of huge open online courses, such as Udacity and MITx, have so far limited their offerings to computer-science courses because the assignments can be automatically graded by computers, making it easier to teach hundreds of thousands of students at once. Coursera, meanwhile, plans to power classes in computer science, as well as courses in the humanities—though the company is still developing plans for the humanities classes. Ms. Koller said those courses could use a peer-assessment model in which some of the grading gets outsourced to students, who would use rubrics as guides to judge their peers’ work.

“They didn’t want this to be an engineering-centric effort,” Ms. Koller said of her company’s partner institutions.

The company’s founders said they have limited their partnerships for now because Coursera is a small company, with about a dozen employees. They plan to focus on teaming up with top institutions, because those colleges have the highest concentration of talented faculty members working across disciplines—though they added that discussions with other potential partners are continuing. (Two of the classes listed on Coursera’s Web site, “Computer Vision” and “Software as a Service,” are taught by professors from the University of California at Berkeley, but Ms. Koller described Coursera’s relationship with that institution as “experimental.”)

To keep growing, Coursera will pull from a rich venture-capital investment provided by two prominent firms. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates have invested $16-million in the company.

via Online-Education Start-Up Teams With Top-Ranked Universities to Offer Free Courses – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Real Innovations in Higher Education? | Ann Kirschner | Chronicle of Higher Education

CUNY’s Ann Kirschner has an excellent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education exploring how much innovation is really happening in US higher education. A nice read for anyone interested in the present and future of higher education.

Even major higher-education projects and government initiatives are just playing around the margins. Take the international-export activity in education: Some institutions have indeed begun ambitious expansions with overseas branch campuses or partnerships, but they are merely transporting the old model to new physical space abroad. Or technology: Although e-learning has been around for nearly 20 years, technology in and out of the classroom is at the discretion of the professor, with rare institutional support or enthusiasm. Online learning has about as much credibility on some campuses as global warming at a Tea Party rally. About the only thing within academe that has moved rapidly is tuition.

A recent spate of books diagnoses the impediments to change and offers a broad menu of recommendations. We have Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation, edited by Ben Wildavsky, Andrew Kelly, and Kevin Carey Harvard Education Press, 2011; the second edition of Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It, by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus St. Martins Griffin, Reprint Edition, 2011; The Innovation University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education From the Inside Out, by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring Jossey-Bass, 2011; and Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy, by Andrew S. Rosen Kaplan Publishing 2011. Continue reading