Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Google and edX combine their strengths to form

In previous posts, I've said universities and university systems (like mine) could host open source MOOC platforms from Google and MIT edX, allowing faculty and others to experiment with innovative educational technology -- to develop focused instructional modules to supplement their own courses or complete MOOCs.

Better yet, I've suggested that Google could offer a hosted service where individuals could do the same without support of their university -- a "YouTube" for MOOCs and modular teaching material.

It looks like we are moving in the direction of the second suggestion. Google and edX announce today that they will be collaborating on

The service is slated to be available in mid 2014, and it sounds as though a lot of the details (including revenue sources) are yet to be decided, but open software, open data and collaboration are clear values of this non-profit entity.

You can read more in a Google blog post and an MIT press release. Here are a couple of quotes from each along with some parenthesized comments:
Google blog post

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. (I hope they support individual teachers, students and non-academics who want to develop teaching material in addition to supporting educational institutions).

Today, Google will begin working with edX as a contributor to the open source platform, Open edX. (It sounds as though the edX and Google platforms will be combined. Some time ago, Stanford also rolled their MOOC effort into edX. Perhaps competition from Udacity and Coursera has been a factor in driving this consolidation.)

edX press release:

In collaboration with Google, edX will build out and operate, a new site for non-xConsortium universities, institutions, businesses, governments and teachers to build and host their courses for a global audience. (This sounds like "EdX for the rest of us" -- those who cannot afford edX fees and are not at elite universities).

Google shares our mission to improve learning both on-campus and online. Working with Google's world-class engineers and technology will enable us to advance online, on-campus and blended learning experiences faster and more effectively than ever before ... This new site for online learning will provide a platform for colleges, universities, businesses and individuals around the world to produce high-quality online and blended courses. will be built on Google infrastructure. (It sounds like Google is bringing their Hangout, Live Stream, YouTube, Plus, etc. infrastructure to the party).

The devil is, no doubt, in the details, but this combination of MIT's educational expertise and reputation, Google's vast infrastructure and the lofty goals of both organizations might turn out to be revolutionary.


Update 9/18/2013 announced that they would be offering certified multi-course sequences as well as single courses. Do you think that this sort of thing might become more important than a traditional college degree in the job market? If so, for what sorts of jobs?

While I am glad to see them move in this direction, I also hope they make room for creating and discovering sub-course modules on focused topics. (I am a long-time modular teaching material nut).

Update 11/4/2013

Stanford, which had committed to the edX platform some time ago, has announced additional support.
Uppdate 12/1/2013

There is a discussion of this post on Slashdot.

Update 12/16/2013

EdX drops plans to match students with potential employers. In a failed trial -- they tried to match 868 high-performing students with job openings and none got a job -- they ran into competition from traditional headhunters and codified hiring criteria in HR departments. They are considering other revenue generating options like licensing courses to universities and other types of organization (sounds a bit like the shift toward vocational training at Udacity) and hosting and supporting their open source course delivery platform. If they were to pursue the latter option, how would that impact their collaboration with Google at