EdCast is a Silicon Valley based company founded by serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Karl Mehta. EdCast’s Open Knowledge cloud platform, built on OpenEdx, allows anyone to create a platform to host their own online classes.
SDSN.edu – Powered by EdCast
The UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was launched in 2012 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to promote sustainable development around the world, and comprises of a network of over 200 member organizations, including a large number of universities. SDSN announced a new free online education platform SDSN.edu, powered by EdCast’s Open Knowledge platform.
The aim of SDSN.edu is to provide a comprehensive curriculum built by its members to equip the next generation of Sustainable Development practitioners. EdCast’s Open Knowledge cloud platform makes this collaboration possible across institutions, universities, government and enterprises. It allows for the option to make these courses available only to its 200+ member network or to offer it publicly to world. The courses on SDSN.edu will always be free, but in the future institutions and individuals will be offered several paid options to access course materials
The first course to be be offered on SDSN.edu is “Age of Sustainable Development” by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia’s Earth Institute and Special Advisor to UN Secretary General. The first session of this course ran on the Coursera platform in Jan 2014, and attracted nearly 50,000 students. Starting September 9th, it will be offered simultaneously on Coursera and on SDSN.edu (open to any users world wide as well as on-campus at 26+ top-tier universities).
EdCast offers a way for universities and other educators to launch their own branded MOOC platform, with equivalent functionality to using Coursera or edX as a platform. Karl Mehta, EdCast’s CEO calls his endeavor a “Heroku-style platform for Institutions looking to retain ownership of their IP, brand, content, users and experience”. The courses offered via EdCast’s platform can be private or open to the public, without having to choose between one of them.
EdCast also allows institutions the capability to collect revenue. Currently MOOC providers like Coursera and edX charge a fee for identity verified certificates. Since it is built on OpenEdx, EdCast can leverage the verification process that is already built-in. Potentially, EdCast would allow educators to experiment with different revenue models beyond just verified certificates. On top of that, EdCast provides learners with a wide variety of payment options, with all the charges being in local currency. Karl knows a thing or two about payments, having sold his payment company PlaySpan to Visa Inc for over $235 million in 2011.
World Class Support & SLAs
24/7 support and customer service
EdCast’s Knowledge Cloud Software itself is free but they charge for hosting, setup, and support. Customer service and support is available 24/7 and can be set with different levels of service-level agreements (SLAs). Support is provided not only for educators but also for students, which is very important. Online courses are still a new medium and can be confusing to many students (At BestCerts, we frequently get questions from new users such as “What time do I have to be online?” or “How do I apply for the class?”). Yet, due to the massive scale of MOOCs, direct support for students to answer their questions is usually lacking. But EdCast is pursuing a different model and willing to provide that support.
In addition to trying to satisfy educators and students, Edcast allows for integrations with existing learning management systems (LMS). EdCast’s Personal Learning Network is LTI-compliant and has plugins that make this integration possible without technical programming knowledge.
We are excited to hear about this announcement from EdCast and eagerly await the new developments that will be made possible by this new MOOC solution offering in the marketplace.