May 17
Education Technology Insights

Matt Lisle explores how C21U is addressing higher education's "triple threat": affordability, accessibility, and achievement.

Apr 19
Chronicle of Higher Education

While serving as provost was once a clear steppingstone on the way to the president’s office, many deans are now moving straight into the top job, according to the report, which was issued by Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for 21st Century Universities.

Apr 19
USA Today

A new survey of college presidents from C21U and Deloitte Education finds that these once-steadfast, once-starchy leaders now spend less time at a given institution and are under growing pressure to look for “quick wins” while they have the chance

Nov 15
Atlanta, GA

Georgia Tech and IDEO, an international design and consulting firm, are partnering to sponsor and participate in the OpenIDEO Future of Higher Education Challenge. The global initiative was announced Nov. 15 at the White House by Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell and will run through February 2017.

According to IDEO, the OpenIDEO Challenge seeks to find solutions to “...reimagine how we prepare students — of all ages — for active civic engagement, real-world employment and career success in an ever transforming society.” It will provide faculty, staff and students with the opportunity to submit their ideas on how both Georgia Tech and the global higher education community can innovate and meet the challenges of tomorrow. On campus, Provost Rafael L. Bras and his Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE) will lead the Challenge.

“The Challenge is an exciting complement to the CNE as it strives to develop bold ideas that will transform the educational experience of the next generation of Georgia Tech learners,” said Bras, who is also executive vice president for Academic Affairs and the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. “It’s a great way to harness the creative and innovative minds of our own Georgia Tech community as well as those of our partners, innovators in higher education and other stakeholders.”

OpenIDEO is a branch of IDEO that utilizes human-centered and collaborative design thinking to solve the world’s toughest problems.

The Challenge’s Research Phase is now underway. The global higher education community is called to share stories and reflections, emotions, perspectives and other personal contributions related to education after high school and throughout one’s lifetime. These contributions can be shared through the OpenIDEO Challenge Portal.

A solutions-driven Ideas Phase and then a Refinement Phase — in which Georgia Tech, other challenge sponsors, and an Advisory Panel will create a short list of submitted ideas for a final presentation during the Top Ideas Phase — will follow this phase. Once these ideas are finalized in February, Georgia Tech will host a summit to explore the concepts and find ways to turn collaborative ideas into real world solutions.

Other OpenIDEO Challenge sponsors include ASU GSV Summit, Level Education from Northeastern University, USA Funds and the U.S. Department of Education.

“American college students are more diverse than ever before. The ‘new normal’ student may be a 24-year-old returning veteran, a 36-year-old single mother, a part-time student juggling work and college, or a first-generation college student. While America has some of the best colleges and universities in the world, we need to better support these students and all students. To do so we simply must innovate. I’m excited to see the ideas that this challenge will spark,” said U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell.

The Atlanta chapter of OpenIDEO, which recently completed a project to bring human-centered design to students, maintains an active relationship with Georgia Tech students. Through the OpenIDEO Challenge, Georgia Tech hopes to stimulate the world’s best out-of-the-box design thinking about the future of global postsecondary education as it seeks to define the technological university of the 21st century. For more information about the Challenge, visit the provost’s CNE website or Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) website.

Aug 26
Atlanta, GA

In a recent webinar, “Technology and the Evolving Business Model in Higher Education,” Inside Higher Ed (IHE) pointed to the development of Georgia Tech’s online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMS CS) as a prominent case study.

Hosts Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman, of the IHE editorial team, explored the impact technology has made on the higher ed community -- including flipped classrooms, massive open online courses (MOOCs), badging and learning analytics. Georgia Tech’s OMS CS was cited alongside MIT as an example of the way MOOC-inspired models have proven impactful in the evolving landscape of online learning.

Seminar materials featured, “Georgia Tech’s Next Steps,” a recent IHE story reflecting on the first two years of the OMS CS program and looking to the future of MOOC-inspired learning at Georgia Tech. Interviews with President Bud Peterson and College of Computing Senior Associate Dean and Professor Charles Isbell pointed to a world of possibilities for online learning for the university.

“I couldn’t be happier with where we are,” said Charles L. Isbell in an interview with IHE’s Carl Straumsheim. “When I say that the program is successful, I mean it by the financial measures -- we’ve got tons of students -- but to me the big success is we’ve been able to take a bunch of people who are already clearly qualified and the vast majority of whom would never have been able to get an advanced degree from a great place because they were not mobile. Now they can.”

Rich DeMillo, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), weighed in on the impact of technology and the business of higher education in “MIT’s New Model,” a feature exploring stackable credentialing.

“My guess is that once learners find out that this is a better, more effective learning experience, they will come pouring in,” said DeMillo of MOOC-driven programs like Georgia Tech’s.

To find out more about the innovative OMS CS program, visit the degree website or explore the 2015 OMS CS Program Report.

Photo credit: Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed on OMS CS
May 12
Microsoft Research

Rich DeMillo and Jeff Selingo visit Microsoft Research to discuss today's educational system and those innovators who are truly impacting change in higher ed.

May 06
The Wall Street Journal

Powered by IBM's Watson analytics system, Jill Watson -- an artificial-intelligence system and teaching assistant in Georgia Tech's OMS CS program -- has aided with Professor Ashok Goel's online course for months completely unbeknownst to students.

Apr 25
The Evolllution

Rich DeMillo discusses institutional rankings in a recent interview with The Evolllution.

Apr 06
The New York Times

Jeff Selingo explores emerging adulthood and the three student and career "types" - those who sprint, those who stroll and those who stumble in this piece for The New York Times.

Mar 22
Georgia Tech Professional Education

Six of the nation’s top universities have come together to offer a new micro-credentialing system that may become the standard in career-focused, skills-based training. Georgia Tech Professional Education, UCLA, University of California, Davis Extension, University of California Irvine Division of Continuing Education, University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education and University of Wisconsin-Extension today launched the University Learning Store.

Six of the nation’s top universities have come together to offer a new credentialing system that may become the standard in career-focused, skills-based training. Georgia Tech Professional Education, UCLA, University of California, Davis Extension, University of California Irvine Division of Continuing Education, University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education and University of Wisconsin-Extension today launched the University Learning Store

Feb 11
Communications of the ACM

Mark Guzdial and Barb Ericson describe what's necessary to broaden access to computing education, state by state.

Mark Guzdial & Barb Ericson
Feb 09
Atlanta, GA

The Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) at Georgia Tech continues to grow and expand in technological and research capabilities with the addition of three new staff members.

Matt Lisle is the new Director of Digital Learning Technologies for C21U. Lisle arrives at Georgia Tech from the University of Texas at Austin where he was a Digital Course Design Coordinator. He was also the Creative Director for Enspire Learning, a company that creates simulations, games and interactive learning experiences for higher education as well as industry. Lisle received his MEd in Instructional Technology from the University of Georgia.

Rob Kadel is the Assistant Director for Research in Education Innovation for C21U. Kadel’s expansive educational research focuses on the efficacy of learning technologies in both K-12 and higher education. He has held faculty positions at Penn State University and Johns Hopkins University, and continues to teach online courses in sociology of education and more at the University of Colorado Denver. Kadel earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from Emory University.

Yesyekia Nicole Cotton joins C21U as an Administrative Manager and brings more than 10 years of experience at Georgia Tech. Cotton has worked in many offices across the university, including the Office of the Dean of Students-Student Integrity, the Bursar’s Office and Administration and Finance. Cotton received her MBA in Business Administration-Management from American Intercontinental University. 


The Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) is Georgia Tech's living laboratory for fundamental change in higher education. Disruptive innovations in higher education are evolving, and Georgia Tech is committed to leading the initiatives that will define the next generation of educational practices and technologies. As a research branch of the Office of the Provost, C21U works in tandem with campus administrators and faculty to identify, develop, and test new educational platforms and techniques.

If you have questions or would like to contact C21U faculty or staff for research or media purposes, please contact Brittany Aiello, Research Communications at

Jan 26
Atlanta, GA

The Georgia Institute of Technology has signed an agreement with edX, the nonprofit online learning destination, to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for learners around the world. The first Georgia Tech class, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility, is open for enrollment and will address the importance of developing an inclusive workplace for employees and customers with disabilities. The Institute AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center is launching the course in partnership with the United Nations Global Initiative on Inclusion.

Offering courses under the brand GTx, Georgia Tech joins a consortium of edX partners that has instructed more than 6 million learners since its inception. Additional Georgia Tech courses will be announced later in 2016. GTx will also explore credit programs on edX and innovative ways of making traditional GT programs available to more learners.

“The student and classroom of the 21st century continue to evolve,” said Georgia Tech Provost Rafael L. Bras. “Higher education must prepare the learner not just for their first job after graduation, but also for their third or fourth. Our partnership with edX will allow Georgia Tech to reach traditional learners, as well as early and mid career professionals, in new and novel ways, creating lifelong learning opportunities befitting a successful and fulfilling career.”

The Institute offered its first MOOC in 2012. Since then, more than 1 million students have enrolled in Georgia Tech online courses. Today’s announcement marks the Institute’s continued expansion as a leader in online learning, with partnerships including three of the world’s most successful online platforms: edX, Coursera and Udacity.

“We are excited to launch GTx in partnership with edX. We believe that the faculty and student-centric tools provided by this platform will play a unique role in Georgia Tech’s MOOC portfolio,” said Richard DeMillo, the executive director of Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities. “This partnership with edX furthers the strategic goals of Georgia Tech’s Education Innovation Council and will provide world-wide access to the university’s courses and programs.

“We are proud to welcome Georgia Tech as the latest edX Charter Member,” said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT Professor. “As a pioneer in online learning, Georgia Tech will bring its expertise and innovative online coursework and programs to the global edX learning community. Their first course on accessibility is something we are deeply committed to at edX, and we are honored to bring education on this important topic to millions of learners around the globe. ”

ICT Accessibility Logo, GTx logo
Dec 15
Atlanta, GA

Humans learn to very quickly identify complex objects and variations of them. We generally recognize an “A” no matter what the font, texture or background, for example, or the face of a coworker even if she puts on a hat or changes her hairstyle. We also can identify an object when just a portion is visible, such as the corner of a bed or the hinge of a door. But how? Are there simple techniques that humans use across diverse tasks? And can such techniques be computationally replicated to improve computer vision, machine learning or robotic performance? 

Researchers at Georgia Tech discovered that humans can categorize data using less than 1 percent of the original information, and validated an algorithm to explain human learning -- a method that also can be used for machine learning, data analysis and computer vision.

“How do we make sense of so much data around us, of so many different types, so quickly and robustly?” said Santosh Vempala, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology and one of four researchers on the project. “At a fundamental level, how do humans begin to do that? It’s a computational problem.”

Researchers Rosa Arriaga, Maya Cakmak, David Rutter, and Vempala at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing studied human performance in “random projection” tests to understand how well humans learn an object. They presented test subjects with original, abstract images and then asked whether they could correctly identify that same image when randomly shown just a small portion of it.

“We hypothesized that random projection could be one way humans learn,” Arriaga explains, a senior research scientist and developmental psychologist. “The short story is, the prediction was right. Just 0.15 percent of the total data is enough for humans.”

Next, researchers tested a computational algorithm to allow machines (very simple neural networks) to complete the same tests. Machines performed as well as humans, which provides a new understanding of how humans learn. “We found evidence that, in fact, the human and the neural network behave very similarly,” Arriaga said.

The  researchers wanted to come up with a mathematical definition of what typical and atypical stimuli look like and, from that, predict which data would hardest for the human and the machine to learn. Humans and machines performed equally, demonstrating that indeed one can predict which data will be hardest to learn over time.

Results were recently published in the journal Neural Computation (MIT press). It is believed to be the first study of “random projection,” the core component of the researchers’ theory, with human subjects.

To test their theory, researchers created three families of abstract images — some originally as large as 500 x 500 pixels — and extracted very small, random samples from them, ranging in size from 6 to 20 pixels square. Humans and simple neural networks were shown the whole image for 10 seconds, then randomly shown 16 smaller sketches and asked to identify the original image. Using abstract images ensured that neither humans nor machines had any prior knowledge of what the objects were.

“We were surprised by how close the performance was between extremely simple neural networks and humans,” Vempala said. “The design of neural networks was inspired by how we think humans learn, but it’s a weak inspiration. To find that it matches human performance is quite a surprise.”

“This fascinating paper introduces a localized random projection that compresses images while still making it possible for humans and machines to distinguish broad categories,” said Sanjoy Dasgupta, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California San Diego and an expert on machine learning and random projection. “It is a creative combination of insights from geometry, neural computation, and machine learning.”

Although researchers cannot definitively claim that the human brain actually engages in random projection, the results support the notion that random projection is a plausible explanation, the authors conclude. In addition, it suggests a very useful technique for machine learning: large data is a formidable challenge today, and random projection is one way to make data manageable without losing essential content, at least for basic tasks such as categorization and decision making.

The algorithmic theory of learning based on random projection already has been cited more than 300 times and has become a commonly used technique in machine learning to handle large data of diverse types.

The complete research paper, “Visual Categorization with Random Projection,” can be found here and in the October edition of Neural Computation.

This work is partially funded by the National Science Foundation (CCF-0915903 and CCF-1217793). Any conclusions expressed are those of the principal investigator and may not necessarily represent the official views of the funding organizations.

Vempala - human cognition abstracts, Vempala - human cognition samples, Vempala - human cognition graphs
Dec 10
Atlanta, GA

Less than two years after it launched, Georgia Tech’s first-of-its-kind online master’s program in computer science will produce its first graduates tomorrow as the Institute celebrates its 250th Commencement ceremonies.

The online master’s in computer science (or OMS CS), a collaboration between Georgia Tech, Udacity and AT&T, is the first program from a top-ranked, accredited university to combine the instructional style of “massive open online courses” with a deeply discounted price (about $7,000 for most students). On Dec. 11, the first 20 students to complete their studies entirely through the OMS CS curriculum will receive their master’s degrees in a ceremony to be held at 7 p.m. in Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.

“We are proud to welcome these newest graduates to the worldwide community of Georgia Tech alumni,” said Provost Rafael L. Bras. “The OMS CS program has proven that we can make an advanced degree from a school like Georgia Tech accessible to a much larger population of students, both in the United States and around the world. It has succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations.”

To date, the program has received more than 8,000 applications and has admitted about 55 percent of those applicants. In the Fall 2015 semester, 2,841 students enrolled in at least one course, and the overall student enrollment is expected to surge past 3,000 in Spring 2016.

Though they hail from parts far and wide, including countries outside the United States, nearly all of the first 20 OMS graduates have traveled to Atlanta to participate in Commencement. For most, the visit is the first time they have seen any of their fellow students in person.

“I enrolled in OMS CS because of Georgia Tech’s reputation and with the goals of continuing my own professional development, furthering my career, developing a global network of peers and working with world-class faculty—all of those things happened,” said graduate Nathaniel Payne, who was one of the program’s first 380 students in Spring 2014. “The program has been one of the best things I have experienced and has been literally life-changing.”

OMS CS has been in the spotlight since it was announced in May 2013. President Barack Obama has praised the program by name twice—first in August 2013 and then again while visiting Georgia Tech in March 2015—as the kind of innovation that is needed both to address the rising costs of higher education and as a strategy to provide much-needed skilled labor for STEM-related positions.

Through its signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, AT&T has contributed $2 million to help launch OMS CS and has committed an additional $1.5 million to support course development and other startup costs. More than 300 AT&T employees have been admitted to OMS CS, and some of those are among the graduates set to receive their diplomas on Friday. AT&T Aspire drives innovation in education to help students succeed in school and beyond.

“We’ve turned to innovative programs like OMS CS to help our current and future employees adapt to the ever-changing world of technology,” said Scott Smith, AT&T senior vice president of Human Resources Operations. “These programs provide new and innovative ways to help our employees at all levels and across the globe develop the skills they need to succeed in their roles today and prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Indeed, OMS has shown to be particularly effective in attracting U.S. students. Its citizenship demographics are nearly the inverse of those for Georgia Tech’s residential Master of Science in Computer Science degree, whose students are overwhelmingly international. By contrast, 79 percent of OMS CS students in Fall 2015 were U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

“Our first priority is to address the STEM shortage in America,” said Dean Zvi Galil of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing. “What OMS has proven is that we can indeed greatly expand accessibility through affordability and technology. I’m very proud, not only of our first OMS graduates but of the dozens of Georgia Tech faculty, staff and students who have worked to make this program a success.”

“The dynamics of today’s workforce require new and more flexible options for advanced training and education,” said Sebastian Thrun, co-founder and CEO of Udacity. “When we began discussing the partnership with Georgia Tech several years ago, we knew it had incredible potential to reach new markets, and today's success is testimony to our earlier vision. We look forward to continuing our work with Georgia Tech.”

For more information about OMS CS, visit the program’s website at

OMS CS Logo, Screen Shot of Course