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The Stanford team behind Venture Lab, founds a company NovoEd to offer collaborative MOOCs

Dhawal Shah

The landscape for online education is growing at a rapid rate. This can be overwhelmingly credited to Stanford Professors, who are responsible for founding both Coursera (Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller) and Udacity (Sebastian Thrun). Most recently, there is a new and exciting initiative by the team behind Venture Lab: NovoEd. The company was founded by Amin Saberi, an Associate Professor at Stanford and Farnaz Ronaghi, a Ph.D. student under Saberi. The two belonged to the school’s Management Science and Engineering department, and as of January 1, 2013, have taken a leave of absence to pursue NovoEd full time. NovoEd is based in Menlo Park, and is backed by Foundation Capital, among other investors.

The history of Venture Lab began with the launch of Technology Entrepreneurship by Chuck Eesely. Originally, the course was one of the first to be announced on the Coursera Platform, and expected to start in January 2012 . It was Coursera’s most popular class, with over 67,000 signups. However, it was ultimately delayed and removed.

Eventually, the course was launched on Saberi and Ronaghi’s platform, Venture Lab, in mid April 2012. The first iteration of Technology Entrepreneurship attracted around 80,000 students from 150 countries, out of which 40,000 students worked on their start up projects. In October 2012, Venture Lab added 4 new courses from Stanford faculty, bringing the total number to 5. To this date, Venture Lab courses have attracted over 170,000 people.

What makes Venture Lab unique is its dedication and focus towards peer learning. Unlike Coursera and Udacity, this online learning community enables users to collaborate with peers around the world. This core feature stems from Saberi’s research, which lies at the intersection of computer and social sciences, and Ronaghi’s thesis, which focuses on the creation of social incentives in online learning. This made them an ideal fit for developing a platform which allows students to form teams with people around the world and work on group projects. The system is powered through algorithms developed by NovoEd that assign students to different groups based on their profile. This results in a rich learning experience that is unmatched by individual thinking, and gives way to valuable networking opportunities.

With spring in full swing, Venture Lab is offering a new batch of courses that will begin mid April. Topics range from finance, mobile health, creativity, and more. Visit the Technology Entrepreneurship highlights  page to see some results of team collaboration. Be sure to check the listing below and sign up!

Venture Lab courses

A Crash Course on Creativity
Apr 22nd | 7 weeks long
Finance
Apr 22nd | 8 weeks long 
Graph Partitioning and Expanders
Apr 23rd
Technology Entrepreneurship
Apr 29th | 9 weeks long 
Mobile Health Without Borders
Apr 29th
Sustainable Design and Product Management
May 15th
Hippocrates Challenge
May 15th