Google Releases “Course Builder,” an Open Source Platform for Building Your Own Big Online Courses

Ear­li­er this year, we saw Udac­i­ty and Cours­era take flight, two online ven­tures ded­i­cat­ed to offer­ing Mas­sive Open Online Cours­es (MOOCs) and democ­ra­tiz­ing edu­ca­tion. Caught off-guard, tra­di­tion­al uni­ver­si­ties have scram­bled to get a foothold in this brave new world of e‑learning, and 16 uni­ver­si­ties have already signed agree­ments to offer their own MOOCs through Cours­era. We wel­come that trend. But, if you talk with profs at these uni­ver­si­ties, they often ask these ques­tions: Why are we pay­ing good mon­ey to devel­op cours­es that will build Cours­er­a’s busi­ness (which is for-prof­it and VC-backed)? Or why are we cre­at­ing cours­es for a plat­form that we don’t con­trol or have a stake in? They ask these ques­tions when they’re not oth­er­wise ask­ing “what will hap­pen to our jobs and beloved uni­ver­si­ties in 20 years?”

For schools ask­ing those ques­tions, Google might have an answer. Accord­ing to an announce­ment yes­ter­day, Google is releas­ing the code base for Course Builder, a new open source plat­form that will give indi­vid­ual edu­ca­tors and uni­ver­si­ties the abil­i­ty to cre­ate MOOCs of their own. As Peter Norvig, Google’s Direc­tor of Research, explains above, the com­pa­ny gave the plat­form a test dri­ve this sum­mer when it offered Pow­er Search­ing with Google, a course attend­ed by 155,000 reg­is­tered stu­dents. Now you can try it out too and bring MOOCs in-house, under your own con­trol. You can find doc­u­men­ta­tion to get start­ed here. But, as Norvig warns, you’ll need some tech skills in your toolk­it to make ini­tial head­way. In the future, you can almost guar­an­tee that the soft­ware will become user-friend­ly for every­one straight out of the box.

Already schools like Stan­fordIndi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty, and UC San Diego are giv­ing Course Builder a look. Keep an eye on it.

Update: Stan­ford reports today that it is try­ing out its own open source plat­form. It’s called Class2Go. Learn more about it here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

500 Free Online Cours­es from Great Uni­ver­si­ties

Free Online Cer­tifi­cate Cours­es from Great Uni­ver­si­ties: A Com­plete List

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Comments (3)
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  • Hanna Richardson says:

    Google will not attract aca­d­e­mics eas­i­ly with this kind of illit­er­ate lan­guage on the Course Builder site: “bring sound ped­a­gogy and late­ly web tech­nol­o­gy designs to the use of none web savvy peo­ple”

    Uh, yeah.

  • Lona Skaggs says:

    I intend to do some of the free online course videos from Open Cul­ture start­ing today…before that ses­sion on Sept 19-Like this one:
    Inten­sive Intro­duc­tion to Com­put­er Sci­ence Using C, PHP, and JavaScript — Mul­ti­ple For­mats — iTunes — David Malan, Har­vard
    There a lot of oth­ers to view that will install and refresh the infor­ma­tion on html codes etc.

    Also thanks to the fact that it is going to be record­ed; I can review the infor­ma­tion over and over and become the web­mas­ter lev­el. Plus the free course builder is going to be direct­ed with good instruc­tions. You just need to want to do this; then you can.

  • Paul O. says:

    The link to the Course Builder reposi­ti­to­ry points to the wrong project. The cur­rent URL is:

    The acu­tal URL is:

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