The online education space has been generating some buzz in recent times and it’s hard to overlook; from the launch of edX free online learning software, to introduction of new partnerships between Coursera and universities.
Google have decided to identify with the mission of expanding online education, through the launch of its open source course-building application. If you’ve ever wanted to run your own online course(s), as an individual, school or organisation, this might be a tool to consider.
The birth of Google’s new Course Builder Software came with the popular online Google course, ‘Power Searching with Google’ (an online course by Google to teach searchers how to become better at using Google search engine). The second phase of the course started in September 24.
Peter Norvig, Google’s Director of Research, talks about the reason behind creating the power searching online course and the course-building software. “In July, Research at Google ran a large open online course, Power Searching with Google, taught by search expert, Dan Russell. The course was successful, with 155,000 registered students” said Norvig. “Through this experiment, we learned that Google technologies can help bring education to a global audience. So we packaged up the technology we used to build Power Searching and are providing it as an open source project called ‘Course Builder’. We want to make this technology available so that others can experiment with online learning”.
“We feel that by sharing the code that we’ve generated, we can impact more people in the education space. There is a lot of experimentation going on in the industry at this point, and we felt that contributing an open source project would be a beneficial starting point that could help everyone.”
What Google is doing is not entirely new, since there have been other open source online learning technologies, like edX. But having a company like Google in this space is something to look out for.
From Peter Norvig, Director of Research
The Course Builder open source project is an experimental early step for us in the world of online education. It is a snapshot of an approach we found useful and an indication of our future direction. We hope to continue development along these lines, but we wanted to make this limited code base available now, to see what early adopters will do with it, and to explore the future of learning technology. We will be hosting a community building event in the upcoming months to help more people get started using this software. edX shares in the open source vision for online learning platforms, and Google and the edX team are in discussions about open standards and technology sharing for course platforms.
Along with releasing the experimental open source code, we’ve provided documentation and forums for anyone to learn how to develop and deploy an online course like Power Searching. In addition, over the next two weeks we will provide educators the opportunity to connect with the Google team working on the code via Google Hangouts.
For access to the code, documentation, user forum, and information about the Hangouts, visit the Course Builder Open Source Project Page.
To see what is possible with the Course Builder technology register for Google’s next version of Power Searching.