It’s turning into a busy week for Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers, and the tech companies that love them — particularly Google. Udacity co-founder and CEO Sebastian Thrun and California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the Open Education Alliance, a consortium of online organizations dedicated to closing the skills gap, developing standards for career readiness and providing the content that will help get students ready for the workforce. Google and AT&T are some of the names already endorsing the Alliance, while rumors have been circling that Coursera and other MOOC providers are on board as well. However, at this point who will be participating and what it could mean for education is still up in the air. It’s an alliance-in-progress.
Google also took another big step into the open courseware game, announcing a new partnership with edX — the Harvard and MIT-backed, non-profit organization that currently stands as one of the Big Three MOOC Providers, along with Udacity and Coursera. Together, the two companies plan to launch MOOC.org, a site that will allow teachers, businesses — and really anyone — to create their own digital course and share it with the world. As of now, the site is slated for launch in the first half of 2014.
For edX, MOOC.org represents another step towards going beyond the boundaries of its current model, which includes partnership with institutions like Harvard, MIT, Stanford and other elite universities. In April, the organization merged with Stanford University-based startup Class2Go to build an open-source version of its platform that can be used by any institution around the globe. The goal has been to allow developers access to edX’s code to allow any institution to host and distribute digital courses for on-campus and distance learners — both online and offline — and create better ways to collect student data.