Google Joining Effort to Expand Open edX Distance Learning Project
Google will now work with nonprofit group edX to expand and improve the Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) system for students around the world.Google has just signed on to contribute to the open-source Open edX distance education project, which allows students around the world to take college courses online from some of the most notable schools on the planet. Google is joining the edX efforts a year after starting its own Google Course Builder project, which was created to experiment with distance learning. "Today, Google will begin working with edX as a contributor to the open source platform, Open edX," wrote Dan Clancy, director of research for Google, in a Sept. 10 post on the Google Open Source Blog. "We are taking our learnings from Course Builder and applying them to Open edX to further innovate on an open source MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) platform. We look forward to contributing to edX's new site, MOOC.org, a new service for online learning which will allow any academic institution, business and individual to create and host online courses." Google's own Course Builder, an experimental platform for large-scale online education, was unveiled in September 2012 as an early step for the company to explore the possibilities of online education and as a path for its future direction in the field, according to Google. "Since then, individuals have created courses on everything from game theory to philanthropy, offered to curious people around the world," wrote Clancy. "Universities and non-profit organizations have used the platform to experiment with MOOCs, while maintaining direct relationships with their participants. Google has published a number of courses including Introduction to Web Accessibility, which opens for registration today. This platform is helping to deliver on our goal of making education more accessible through technology, and enabling educators to easily teach at scale on top of cloud platform services."
Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, said in a statement that the new partnership with Google will help his nonprofit organization expand and grow distance learning opportunities around the world.
The partnership with edX is a natural extension of Google's work in this area, wrote Clancy. "Google and edX have a shared mission to broaden access to education, and by working together, we can advance towards our goals much faster," he wrote. "In addition, Google, with its breadth of applicable infrastructure and research capabilities, will continue to make contributions to the online education space, the findings of which will be shared directly to the online education community and the Open edX platform." The field is important to Google, wrote Clancy. "We support the development of a diverse education ecosystem, as learning expands in the online world. Part of that means that educational institutions should easily be able to bring their content online and manage their relationships with their students. Our industry is in the early stages of MOOCs, and lots of experimentation is still needed to find the best way to meet the educational needs of the world. An open ecosystem with multiple players encourages rapid experimentation and innovation, and we applaud the work going on in this space today."