The online learning market is attracting major technology companies including Microsoft, Apple and Google who see tremendous opportunities in the growing market of online courses. Millions of students around the world are enrolling in massive open online courses (MOOC) being offered by Udacity, edX and Coursera, and players in the sector are beginning to partner and cooperate at a faster rate.
Search engine company Google announced that it is teaming up with edX to develop a new site that will host courses online. The website, MOOC.org, will be open to use by academic institutions, businesses, and individuals to create and host massive online open courses online, according to Loek Essers of PC World.
Last year Google released Course Builder, an experimental platform for online education. In a partnership with edX, the Google team will apply their experience of Course Builder to the open-source Open edX platform that will be the basis of MOOC.org.
Google said in a statement that it wants to make further innovative improvements to Open edX platform.
The collaboration will extend to research into how students learn and how technology can transform learning and teaching on campus and beyond, according to a joint press release by companies. Together, Google and edX want to broaden access to education, Dan Clancy, director of research at Google, wrote in a blog post. “We are taking our learnings from Course Builder and applying them to Open edX to further innovate on an open source MOOC platform,” Clancy wrote.
The Google infrastructure will be used to build MOOC.org. Clancy noted that Google will maintain Course Builder and the company will be putting more focus on Open edX and MOOC.org. An upgrade path to Open edX and MOOC.org from Course Builder will be provided in the future.
According to Clancy, Google supports the development of a diverse education ecosystem as learning expands in the online world.
“Our industry is in the early stages of MOOCs, and lots of experimentation is still needed to find the best way to meet the educational needs of the world. An open ecosystem with multiple players encourages rapid experimentation and innovation, and we applaud the work going on in this space today,” Clancy said.
Tech companies are experimenting with how to grab market share in the rapidly-evolving education sphere. Microsoft recently announced plans to offer schools access to an ad-free version of its search engine Bing and free use of its Surface tablets in an effort to compete with Google and Apple, the two biggest names in the education technology business.
Schools who sign up for the company’s Bing for Schools program will not only see their internet search results insulated from advertisements and adult content, but they will also get free tablets and other tools.
The new Bing for Schools initiative is designed to improve digital literacy for students by putting technology in classrooms, helping students learn how to use the power of search, and making sure they can do it in a safer, ad-free environment, according to the Bing website.