September 10, 2013
As online education start-ups rush to create the "next big thing," edX, the online education nonprofit backed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, just announced a partnership with Google that could be a game changer for online education as a whole.
According to PR Newswire, edX will soon be collaborating with Google in an effort to expand their online learning platform, currently found at edX.org. In addition, the two technology giants will join forces to build out a new online learning site, Mooc.org. The new site, which is aptly named after the acronym for "massive open online courses," will serve as a "one stop shop" for teachers and students involved in the online learning community.
EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise comprised of 28 institutions of higher education with the joint goal of expanding educational opportunities across the globe. And, according to edX, partnering with Google will move them that much closer to achieving that goal.
"We have long admired Google's commitment to open access to information, and we believe they will be a perfect partner to work with as we shape the next generation of open education and learning," said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. "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."
Prior to the newly announced partnership with Google, edX only offered courses created by partnering institutions. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Mooc.org will open its doors to courses from other universities, or even businesses. "We want to be the YouTube for Moocs," Agarwal said in an interview. "Anyone can create a course - we are all learners and teachers."
Google will reportedly host Mooc.org on its cloud-computing service and assist with all facets of running the site. And although no one is sure what Google hopes to gain from the collaboration, the move isn't all that surprising. After all, Google has dabbled in online education in the past, including its creation of Course Builder, an online site that assists in the creation of online courses.
Regardless, since the popularity of online education has skyrocketed in the past few years, it's understandable that Google wants to be a part of the story. "We support the development of a diverse education ecosystem, as learning expands in the online world," wrote Dan Clancy, Google's director of research, in a blog post. "An open ecosystem with multiple players encourages rapid experimentation and innovation, and we applaud the work going on in this space today."
While some in academia tend to worry about how free online education could impact traditional college campuses, others believe that online education websites, like Mooc.org, serve a real purpose in the higher education community. In fact, as The Washington Post noted, websites like Mooc.org could be used as an extension to traditional educations or as a source for students who are unsure of their educational goals. "Faculty, for example, new to online learning could get their feet wet, and learners who may not want to take a full course could also just get a taste," Agarwal said.
Compiled by Holly Johnson
"EdX Announces Partnership with Google to Expand Open Source Platform," prnewswire.com, September 10, 2013
"EdX, Google to Create New Online Education Site." blogs.wsj.com, September 10, 2013, Geoffrey A. Fowler
"Harvard-MIT venture edX teams with Google on platform for free online courses," washingtonpost.com, September 10, 2013, Nick Anderson