Google joins open-source online education project Open edX

MOOC.org to go live in first half of 2014.

Google will lend its expertise and powerful infrastructure to an effort aimed at creating an open platform for online education called MOOC.org, according to an official blog post published yesterday.

Massive open online courses, commonly called MOOCs, are more or less exactly what they sound like – remote classes where the materials and coursework are provided over the Internet. Google’s own Course Builder platform, designed for just such a purpose, went open-source last summer.

[MORE HIGHER ED: Microsoft releases Office 365 for Education]

Previous work on Course Builder will be rolled into the Open edX project, said director of research Dan Clancy.

“We will continue to maintain Course Builder, but are focusing our development efforts on Open edX, and look forward to seeing edX’s MOOC.org platform develop. In the future, we will provide an upgrade path to Open edX and MOOC.org from Course Builder,” he says.

EdX is a Cambridge, Mass.,-based non-profit that offers courses from a consortium of universities, including MIT, Harvard, Boston University and Cal-Berkeley, among others. Students view course materials and complete assignments largely online, both for credit and simply for self-improvement.

MOOC.org, however, will be an open platform, through which any interested organization can create and publish online classes. A placeholder page at the address says that the site is scheduled to go live in the first half of 2014, and edX confirmed in a statement that it would be built on Google infrastructure.

Anant Agarwal, edX’s president, says that Google’s involvement in the project would act as a shot in the arm.

“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,” he says.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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