Google Launches Open Course Builder

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Google launched an open source course building web application for the growing list of K-12 and big-name universities developing online classes. The barebones website is a lightweight way to bring course material online, track student engagement (with web traffic and surveys), and evaluate performance. “We want to use this launch to show that Google believes it can contribute to technology in education,” says Google’s Director of Research, Peter Norvig.

Course-builder came off the back of an experimental Google class, “Power Searching with Google,” which went out to schools across the country to educate students on the more advanced features of Google for online research. The power-searching course “was a strong success and also generated some technology that we thought would be useful to share with the world,” says Norvig. “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.”

Google is hoping that big-name universities, such as Stanford and MIT, who have started to put their courses online for free, will adopt the technology.

There are many websites, such as Udemy, that have long offered services for individual users to create (and get paid) for their own classes. Universities, however, are looking for an in-house solution, and a common code-base to evolve custom courses could be helpful.