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Unizin Offering “Associate” Membership For Annual $100k Fee

e-Literate - 15 Julio, 2015 - 00:33

By Phil HillMore Posts (339)

Alert unnamed readers prompted me after the last post on the Unizin contract to pursue the rumored secondary method of joining for $100k. You know who you are – thanks.

While researching this question, I came across a presentation by the University of Florida provost to the State University System of Florida (SUSFL) seeking to get the system to join Unizin under these new terms. The meeting was March 19, 2015, and the video archive is here (first 15 minutes), and the slide deck is here. The key section (full transcript below):

Joe Glover: One of the things that Unizin has done – as I’ve said it consists of those 10 large research universities – is that the Unizin board decided that member institutions may nominate their system – in this case the state university system of Florida – for Associate Membership for an annual fee of $100,000 per system.

For $100,000 the entire state university system of Florida (SUSFL) could become an associate member of Unizin and enjoy all the benefits that Unizin brings forward, whether it’s reduced pricing of products that it’s licensing, or whether it products that Unizin actually produces. Associate Membership does not qualify for board representation, but as I mentioned you do enjoy the benefits of Unizin products and services.

This section reminded me of one item I should have highlighted in the contract. In appendix B:

The annual membership fees are waived for Founding Investors through June 30, 2017.

Does this mean that founding institutions that “invested” $1.050 million over three years will have to start paying annual fees of $100,000 starting in June 2017? That’s my assumption, but I’m checking to see what this clause means and will share at e-Literate.

What is clear is that Unizin considers the board seat – therefore input on the future direction and operations of Unizin – to be worth $700,000.[1]

Full Transcript

The presentation is fascinating in its entirety, so I’m sharing it below. There are many points that should be analyzed, but I’ll save that for other posts and for other people to explore.

Joe Glover: I’d like to begin by explaining the problem that Unizin was created to try and avoid, and I’m going to do it by analogy with the publishing problem with scientific journals. About 30 years ago there was a plethora of publishing companies that would take the intellectual property being produced by universities in the form of journal articles, and they would print them and publish them. There was a lot of competition, prices were relatively low to do that.

Then in the ensuing 30 years there was tremendous consolidation in that industry to the point that there are only three or four major publishers of scientific articles. As a consequence they have a de facto monopoly, and they’re in the position of now taking what we produce, packaging it, and selling it back to the libraries of universities basically at whatever price they want to charge. This is a national problem. It is not a problem that is unique to Florida, and I think that every state in the nation is trying to figure out how to resolve this problem because we can’t afford to continue to pay exorbitant prices for journals.

That is a situation that we got ourselves in by not looking ahead to the future. We believe we are in a similar situation with respect to distance learning at this point.

We have a plethora of universities and commercial firms. all trying to get into the digital space. Most of us believe that over the next 10 – 15 years there will be tremendous consolidation in this industry, and it is likely that there will emerge a relatively small number of players who control the digital space.

This consortium of universities wanted to make sure that the universities were not cut out of this process or this industry in much the same way that they have been cut out of scholarly publishing.

Every university in some sense runs a mom & pop operation in distance learning at this point, at least in comparison with large organizations like IBM and Pearson Learning that can bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the table. No university can afford to do that.

So a consortium of major research universities in the country, in an effort to look down the road and to avoid this problem, and to secure our foothold in the digital industry, formed a consortium called Unizin. I’m going to go briefly through this to tell you what this is, and then to lay before you an opportunity that the state university system can consider for membership in this consortium to enjoy the advantages that we expect it to bring.

This consortium is very new – it was launched in 2014. Its current membership is by invitation only. You cannot apply to become a member of this consortium, it is by invitation. As I mentioned, its objective is to promote greater control and influence over the digital learning ecosystem.

It’s governance is fairly standard. It has a board of directors that is drawn from the founding members. It has a CEO. It has a staff and it’s acquiring more staff. As a legal entity it is a not-for-profit service operation which is hosted by Internet2.

It’s current members include the universities that you see listed on this screen. These are 10 major universities in the nation – they’re all large research universities. There are other research universities that are considering joining. Unizin actually started out with four universities and quickly acquired the other six that are on this list.

The primary goals for Unizin as defined by its board of directors are the following. To acquire a learning management system that will serve as the foundation for what Unizin produces and performs. Secondly, to acquire or create a repository for digital learning objects. At the moment we are all producing all sorts of things, ranging from videos to little scientific clips, demonstrations, to illustrations, to lectures, notes, in all sorts of different formats – some retrievable, some not retrievable, some shareable, some not shareable. None of which is indexed, none of which I can see outside the University of Florida.

We believe there needs to be a repository that all of the members of Unizin can place the objects that they create to promote digital learning into, with an index. And in principle there will be developed a notion of sharing of these objects. It could be free sharing, it could be licensing, it could be selling. That’s something to be discussed in the future.

The third goal for Unizin is to acquire, create, or develop learning analytics. Some of the learning management systems have a rather primitive form of learning analytics. Unizin will build on what they have, and this will go from very mechanical types of learning analytics in terms of monitoring student progress and enabling intrusive advising and tutoring; all the way up to personalized learning, which is something that really does not exist yet but is one of the objectives of Unizin.

Those are the three primary goals for Unizin. If you believe that those are three important elements of infrastructure then you are probably interested in Unizin.

I have alluded to the possibility of a club, or of sharing content. We could think about sharing content. We could think about sharing courses. We could think about sharing degree programs. That is not really Unizin’s objective at this point. I will tell you that the universities that form the board for Unizin are in conversation about that, and we expect that to be one of the things that Unizin enables us to do as we create this repository, as we develop learning analytics we expect to be able to begin to collaborate with these universities. There are a lot of interesting questions as you approach that frontier, and by no means have these been resolved, but we believe it is inevitable and important for universities to begin sharing what they do in the digital learning space, and so Unizin would form the foundation for that.

One of the things that Unizin has done – as I’ve said it consists of those 10 large research universities – is that the Unizin board decided that member institutions may nominate their system – in this case the state university system of Florida – for Associate Membership for an annual fee of $100,000 per system.

For $100,000 the entire state university system of Florida (SUSFL) could become an associate member of Unizin and enjoy all the benefits that Unizin brings forward, whether it’s reduced pricing of products that it’s licensing, or whether it products that Unizin actually produces. Associate Membership does not qualify for board representation, but as I mentioned you do enjoy the benefits of Unizin products and services.

The potential benefits to the state university system I believe are the following. Unizin has settled on Canvas as the learning management system which would underlie the Unizin projects of building a repository and learning analytics. If you did not use Canvas you would still enjoy the benefits of Unizin and their products, but the use of them would not be as seamless as if you were on Canvas. You would have to build a crosswalk from the Unizin products to whatever LMS you are using. If you happen to be using Canvas you would enjoy the benefits of the Unizin products in a seamless fashion.

Unizin has negotiated a discount with Canvas. And so actually the University of Florida had signed the contract with Canvas before Unizin even existed. As soon as Unizin was created and negotiated a contract with Canvas, we actually received a discount from the price that we had negotiated. Because there were 10 large universities working on this, and there is some power in purchasing.

The second benefit, or second potential benefit which I think the system could enjoy is access to the tools which are under development as I’ve mentioned, including a digital repository and learning analytics.

Third, the system would enjoy membership in a consortium of large public universities that intends to secure its niche in the evolving digital ecosystem. As I have mentioned, we do see some potential risk as the industry consolidates, that we could be cut out of this industry if we don’t take the proper precautions.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned, there is the potential for cooperative relationships within the consortium to share digital instruction and to share digital objects and courses and degrees. That is really at the beginning conversation stage, that is not a goal of the Unizin organization itself but is a goal of the universities that underpin Unizin.

Q. I guess the real question is, tell me to what extent you can, how this will benefit each of the other universities who are not members at this time. And number two, could some of our other universities eventually become members?

A. Thank you for that question because I didn’t clarify one point that the question gives me the opportunity to clarify. Additional universities could be members of Unizin, and there are some universities in conversation with Unizin at this point. However, there is a larger charge for universities to become full board members of Unizin. University of Florida committed a million dollars over three years as part of the capitalization of Unizin. Every board member has done exactly the same. If a university in the system were interested in joining Unizin as a board member to help direct Unizin’s goals and operations, we could talk about that, but it would involve that level of investment.

At the lower level of investment, the $100,000 level which would be for the whole system – let’s say you join tomorrow – then an individual university would immediately have access to the preferred pricing for the Canvas learning management system. That would be a benefit to individual universities in the system who already are on Canvas or are considering going on Canvas. As the other tools or products are either acquired or developed by Unizin, the individual campuses would have access to those as well.

Q. I’d like to hear from John Hitt [president of UCF]. How does your university look at this proposal as it relates to online?

JH. I think the group membership for the system makes sense. I don’t think that it would make a lot of sense to have multiple institutions paying in a million bucks apiece. We would probably be interested in the $100,000 share. I doubt we would go for the full membership.

Q. Do you see the benefits they’re offering to benefit to UCF at this point, or would you use it?

JH. Yes, I think we would use some of it. We have more enthusiasm for some aspects of the membership than others. Yes, I think it would be useful.

There were no further questions, but it was apparent that some board members were not sure if they were being asked to pay $1 million for each campus or $100,000. Despite this short questioning, the motion passed as shared in the meeting minutes.

Chair Hosseini recognized Mr. Lautenbach for the Innovation and Online Committee report. Mr. Lautenbach reported the Committee heard an update from Provost Joe Glover on the Unizin Consortium and the Committee directed Chancellor Criser to work with university leadership in pursuing membership for the State University System in the consortium.

  1. The $1.050 million investment over three years minus alternate cost of $100,000 for these same three years.

The post Unizin Offering “Associate” Membership For Annual $100k Fee appeared first on e-Literate.

Learning and performance support systems: personal learning record: user studies white paper

OLDaily - 15 Julio, 2015 - 00:23

Helene Fournier, Heather Molyneaux, National Research Council, Jul 14, 2015

This is the second of the White Papers developed in support of the Learning and Performance Support Systems program (meanwhile, development continues apace behind the scenes). This one focuses on the design and application of what we call the 'Personal Learning Record'. "The Personal Learning record component will define how user learning activities are represented, captured, and leveraged in a meaningful way; data associated with learning activities includes ratings, test results, performance measures, and the like, in a distributed learning and work environment."

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Categorías: General

Six Ways Continuing Education Can Close Canada's Skills Gap

OLDaily - 15 Julio, 2015 - 00:23

Marie Bountrogianni, Huffington Post, Jul 14, 2015

Here are the "six continuing education trends that can help to close Canada's training gap," according to the Dean of the Change School, Marie Bountrogianni (quoted):

  • continuing education can provide soft skills that are in-demand and transferable
  • working adults can choose the course or program that is best suited to their needs
  • teach employees entrepreneurial behaviour, strategy, and opportunity identification
  • better linkages between employers and post-secondary institutions, and among post-secondary institutions
  • employees (who) understand and efficiently act upon the insights that data can provide
  • the experience and expertise older adults bring to their encore careers


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Categorías: General

Promising Research Results On Specific Forms Of Adaptive Learning / ITS

OLDaily - 15 Julio, 2015 - 00:23

Phil Hill, e-Literate, Jul 14, 2015

"The most promising results appear to be  for a subset of adaptive systems that provide  not just content selection but also  tutoring," writes Phil Hill. How do such systems do this? An Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) "constructs either a persistent multidimensional model of the student’ s psychological states (such as subject matter knowledge, learning strategies, motivations, or emotions)." In other words, "ITS relies on a multidimensional model of the student in addition to a model of the subject area (domain model)." This allows the creation of a double-loop system: the outer loop selects learning tasks, while the inner loop "elicits steps within each task (e.g., problem-solving steps) and provides guidance with respect to these steps, typically in the form of feedback, hints, or error messages." Why does this work? It's immediate feedback, response-specific feedback, increased learner control, and individualized task selection.

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Categorías: General

Top Hat Adds OpenStax Texts

Campus Technology - 14 Julio, 2015 - 19:11
Top Hat, provider of a digital learning platform for higher ed, is teaming up with Rice University's OpenStax College to offer the latter's digital textbooks through its teaching platform.

Cal State San Bernardino Powers Up With Wireless Charging

Campus Technology - 14 Julio, 2015 - 18:17
Students at California State University, San Bernardino will soon be able to charge their mobile devices wirelessly all over campus.

Training Faculty for Mobile Learning

Campus Technology - 14 Julio, 2015 - 17:00
At the University of Central Florida, instructional designers offer faculty ongoing mobile technology training courses.

Instructure Is Truly Anomalous

e-Literate - 14 Julio, 2015 - 16:54

By Michael FeldsteinMore Posts (1035)

Phil started his last post with the following:

I’m not sure which is more surprising – Instructure’s continued growth with no major hiccups or their competitors’ inability after a half-decade to understand and accept what is at its core a very simple strategy.

Personally, I vote for Door #1. As surprising as the competition’s seeming sense of denial is, Instructure’s performance is truly shocking. After five years, I continue to be surprised by it. It’s not just how well they are executing. It’s that they seem to defy the laws of physics in the LMS market. We had no reason to believe that any LMS company could rack up the numbers they are showing—in several different areas—no matter how well they execute.

Back in late 2010, I wrote a twopart series on LMS market share. For context, this was a year after Blackboard acquired ANGEL, a month before Instructure records its first clients on the growth graph in Phil’s previous post, six months before we wrote our first post about Instructure on e-Literate, and two years before WebCT was officially killed off. At that time, Blackboard still had dominant market share—over 50%—but it was starting to become clear for the first time that their dominance might not last forever. The posts were my attempt to figure out what might happen next. Here’s what the non-Blackboard LMS market looked like then:

Here’s what the market share looked like when the then-present trends were projected out to 2014:

What we see here is a steady decline of Blackboard’s market share getting spread out among multiple platforms. The reason that I included ANGEL was to show how Blackboard’s strategy of acquiring its most successful competitors was masking their market share erosion. It’s worth calling out a problem with the data that we had at that time. Campus Computing, the source of the market share information in this graph, tracks market share by company, not by platform. So we had no way of knowing how much of their market share was from their Learn platform and how much of it was from WebCT. This was crucial (or, at least, it seemed crucial at the time) because Blackboard was force-migrating WebCT customers to their Learn product. The rate at which Blackboard’s market share got distributed to other platforms depended on how much of the attrition was from WebCT CE customers, how many were WebCT Vista customers, and how many were Blackboard Learn customers. The CE customers tended to be small schools with small contracts, and Blackboard wasn’t making much of an effort to keep them. To the degree that Blackboard’s losses were confined to CE going forward, the company would do just fine. On the other hand, to the degree that Blackboard lost customers from its core Learn platform, it would be a sign of impending catastrophe. LMS migrations were so hard and painful that very few schools migrated unless they felt that they absolutely had to. CE customers left Blackboard in part because it was clear that Blackboard didn’t care about them and that they therefore would never get the quality of product and service (and pricing) that they needed. Blackboard was making a real effort to keep Vista customers, but it was an open question as to whether the forced migration would cause Vista schools to look around at other options, or whether Blackboard could keep the pain of migration low enough that it would be easier to just roll over to Learn than to move to something else. If, on the other hand, Blackboard started losing Learn contracts, it would mean that customers on their core platform felt that the pain of staying was worse than the pain of leaving. At the time, there was strong anecdotal evidence that CE customers were leaving in droves, moderate anecdotal evidence that Vista customers were preparing to leave, and little evidence that Learn customers were leaving. My sense at the time was that Blackboard would probably lose a bunch of customers through the WebCT sunset in 2012 and then the market would more or less settle back into stasis.

That’s not what happened. To begin with, Instructure roared onto the scene in 2011 and ended up stealing the lion’s share of the market share that Blackboard was leaking. But that’s not all. Take a look at the graph Josh Coates presented at the most recent Instructurecon:

As Phil wrote,

There appears to be three periods of growth here:

  • From introduction (roughly Jan 2011) until May 2012: Average growth of ~65 clients per year;
  • From May 2012 until May 2014: Average growth of ~140 clients per year;
  • From May 2014 until present: Average growth of ~190 clients per year.

So Instructure’s growth has accelerated since the end of 2012, which is the opposite of what I would have expected. Where is that growth coming from? It’s hard to tell. Unfortunately, the data we have on LMS market share is not as good as one would hope. The best indications we have right now are that they are primarily coming from former Blackboard Learn and ANGEL customers. Switching data sources from Campus Computing to Edutechnica, here’s Phil’s September 2014 analysis:

  • Blackboard’s BbLearn and ANGEL continue to lose market share in US –[1] Using the 2013 to 2014 tables (> 2000 enrollments), BbLearn has dropped from 848 to 817 institutions and ANGEL has dropped from 162 to 123. Using the revised methodology, Blackboard market share for > 800 enrollments now stands at 33.5% of institutions and 43.5% of total enrollments.
  • Moodle, D2L, and Sakai have no changes in US – Using the 2013 to 2014 tables (> 2000 enrollments), D2L has added only 2 schools, Moodle none, and Sakai 2 schools.
  • Canvas is the fastest growing LMS and has overtaken D2L – Using the 2013 to 2014 tables (> 2000 enrollments), Canvas grew ~40% in one year (from 166 to 232 institutions). For the first time, Canvas appears to have have larger US market share than D2L (13.7% to 12.2% of total enrollments using table above).

But even if you assume that Instructure picked up 100% of the Learn and ANGEL customers—which is plausible, given these numbers—that’s still only 70 new customers. That’s half the ~140 new customers that Instructure is reporting. Could the rest be international? Maybe, although we have little reason to believe that to be the case. In the Edutechnica post that Phil references for the market share information, George Kroner does provide a little bit of information about Instructure’s international growth in the form of a graph of LMS market share in a few different countries:

We would need to see fully 50% of Instructure’s growth reflected in non-US markets to make the numbers square. We don’t see anything like that here. Of course, there are many other non-US markets. Maybe Canvas is all the rage in Turkmenistan. But it’s hard to square the circle. I just don’t know how to account for the company’s growth. I don’t doubt Instructure’s numbers. It’s just that there’s no way I can find to make sense of them with our current data about the market.

Beyond the numerical mystery, there seems to have been a change in market attitudes about LMS migration. Schools seem to be willing to look at alternatives even when they don’t have to. Nobody likes to migrate, of course, but a variety of factors, ranging from improved standards that make moving content easier to more technology maturity and experience among university faculty and staff, have reduced vendor lock-in. It’s a more fluid market now. I had hoped that would be the case someday but, in my heart of hearts, I really didn’t expect it. And at the moment, pretty much all of that new fluidity is flowing into Instructure—at least in US higher education.

Overall, Instructure’s growth is hard to explain. But there’s also another number that I can’t account for. I am in the process of writing an update to my post on the Glassdoor ratings of ed tech companies. At the moment, Instructure’s rating is 4.7. Out of 5. For reference, LinkedIn, which I used as context in last year’s post because it had one of the highest employee ratings on Glassdoor, currently rates only a 4.5. I have been to both Instructure’s and LinkedIn’s offices. LinkedIn’s is nicer. A lot nicer. I’m sure that their salaries are a lot higher as well. Instructure may be buoyed at the moment by the likelihood that they will have an IPO in the next year or two. But still. Instructure may be the highest rated company on Glassdoor right now, not just in ed tech, but the highest rated of any company.

Also weird is the fact that we don’t hear any major complaints from them from anywhere. People tell us stuff. Customers, former employees, and current employees come to us often to dish dirt. What we end up publishing is only the tip of the iceberg because we don’t publish anything unless we feel we have strong confirmation (which usually means multiple sources), we can protect our sources by preserving their anonymity, we believe the information is truly newsworthy, and so on. We hear a lot of dirt. But we hear very little about Instructure. When we poke around, we can get people to tell us things that they’re not happy with, but it’s all normal stuff—I really wish they had this feature, that feature doesn’t work as well as it could, the sales rep was a little annoying or a little unresponsive, and so on. And almost always, the person reporting the problem takes pains to tell us that he or she is generally happy with the company. As Phil wrote,

Companies change as they grow, and I have covered when the company lost both founders and a high-profile CTO. The company moves on, however, and I cannot find customers complaining (at least yet) that the company has changed and is ticking them off. They do have customer challenges, but so far these have been manageable challenges.

Pop quiz: Name the highest profile customer disaster (outage during examples or first week, broken implementation, major bugs, etc) for Canvas.

It’s not normal. And it can’t last forever. Sooner or later, gravity will assert itself and the company will start screwing up. They all do, eventually. But right now, Instructure’s performance is so good by multiple measures that it is almost literally unbelievable.

The post Instructure Is Truly Anomalous appeared first on e-Literate.

Custom Texting Application Helps College of Westchester Communicate With Students

Campus Technology - 14 Julio, 2015 - 16:00
The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY has developed a custom application to help staff communicate with students, using text messaging as a primary method of staying in touch rather than waiting for students to reply to e-mails and phone calls.

Moodlers take note: Edmodo Spotlight is a great example of a market for learning activities

Moodle News - 14 Julio, 2015 - 16:00
Edmodo, a popular, venture backed k12 LMS which focuses learning around a stream of activities recently announced the launch of “Spotlight” for it’s users. Spotlight created a...

Advanced Instructional Design & E-Learning Course available on the Hub

Moodle News - 14 Julio, 2015 - 14:00
Here’s a masters-level course shared by Doug Holton of Utah State University titled “Advanced Instructional Design & E-Learning” (something every Moodle course designer might be...

In the mixer

Learning with 'e's - 14 Julio, 2015 - 13:27
Blended. It used to be something you did in the kitchen. With a machine. Saved you having to mix ingredients with your hands or a utensil. Took away a lot of the effort. Hopefully, the end result was edible.

Now blended has come to mean something else, at least in the education domain. But what exactly does we mean when we talk about blended learning?

Once, blended learning was an easy concept to understand. It described the difference between traditional and distance education. You mixed your face to face learning experience with remote learning, usually mediated through some kind of technology. First it was paper based, and then there was a rapid evolution of technology, and now the distance side of blended learning comes in many shades and hues. The most common form of blended learning today is where you spend some time in the classroom, but the majority of your time studying online. Some people call it the flipped classroom. Whatever. It's blended. Local and remote. There you go.

But it's not a simple as that now. Blended learning is taking on a number of other connotations, because thanks to the advent of the digital device, there are now many more modes of learning. Consider for example the blend between mobile and tethered learning experiences. You can be mobile and take your learning beyond the classroom, but you can be away from the classroom and still be tethered to your technology. What are the issues here? There is plenty of debate and much research in this area, not least around student preferences. Some people prefer to learn on the move, while others are more comfortable with larger screens, and with all their resources physically around them.

Then there is the blend between paper based texts and e-readers. Which is best? Who prefers which? It's a blend we are taking an increasing interest in, throughout the education community. Both can support learning on the move, but then, learning has always taken place exactly where the learner goes.

This blog post was inspired by the above illustration by Amy BurvallWhat about the blend between social learning and personal learning? Surely this is another important dimension to contemporary education? You can learn different things when you're in close proximity to others, especially if they are intent on reaching similar goals to you. And yet, personalised approaches to learning are also on the increase, and although social and personal learning are not mutually exclusive, they tend to be separated out because they afford different possibilities. My view is that social learning amplifies personal learning, and all can benefit from the knowledge of each individual in the community. Blended again.

There is also learning within the same time frame, and learning outside of the time frame. In education we call these modes synchronous and asynchronous, and each has its own benefits. For example, in asynchronous mode, you don't have to respond immediately to a prompt - you can take your time, reflect, go and do some research, and then come back to contribute to a forum or online discussion. Another kind of blended.

So blended learning is becoming an increasingly complex concept, with multiple possibilities and infinite options. Blended is about choice, and about maximising your learning in the modes you find most convenient. Learning in all its forms is a little like the blender in your kitchen. Put in the right ingredients, and use a little effort, and hopefully the result will turn out to be very useful.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Flickr
Image by Amy Burvall

In the mixer by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

NYU Poly Gets $3.5 Million To Train 500 NYC STEM Teachers

Campus Technology - 14 Julio, 2015 - 13:00
The New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering has received two gifts worth $3.5 million that represent the start of a five-year $10.5-million fundraising campaign to support the NYU Center for K12 STEM Education's initiative to train 500 New York City teachers in science, technology, education and math.