Colleges and Universities on June 1 will have access to the source code for what has been dubbed the “Linux of learning” after not-for-profit educational enterprise edX teamed up with Stanford University in making available a host of open-source online learning tools.
edX, launched by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), announced April 3 that programmers worldwide would have no-charge access to the web-based learning platform in June, as Stanford agreed to integrate parts of its Class2Go platform into edX.
The source code will eventually be available at https://github.com/edX.
The free code will include edX’s learning management system (LMS), its course authoring tool known as Studio, and xBlock, an application programming interface for incorporating third-party learning objects, according to an announcement.
Making edX’s code available for any educational institution to use could make the platform the “Linux of learning,” said Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, referring to open-source computer operating system first released in the early-1990s.
The partnership comes about a year after two Stanford computer scientists launched for-profit massive open online course (MOOC) Coursera, which offers more than 100 courses to 2.8 million people worldwide.
“It has been our vision to offer our platform as open source since edX’s founding by Harvard and MIT,” said Agarwal, president of edX. “We are now realizing that vision, and I am pleased to welcome Stanford University, one of the world’s leading institutions of higher education, to further this global open source solution.”
John Mitchell, vice provost for online learning at Stanford University, said the edX-Stanford agreement is an example of elite schools making quality higher education widely available.
“This collaboration brings together two leaders in online education in a common effort to ensure that the world’s universities have the strongest possible not-for-profit, open source platform available to them,” Mitchell said. “A not-for-profit, open source platform will help universities experiment with different ways to produce and share content, fostering continued innovation through a vibrant community of contributors.”
Officials involved in the edX-Stanford partnership said making edX’s code available to colleges for free would let those schools develop their own high-quality web-based courses with interactive videos, online discussions between students and educators, and assessments throughout various courses.
Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller said at last month’s American Council on Education’s (ACE) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. that several MOOC professors from Coursera’s 62 partner universities are translating their online work into their traditional classes.
She said that often, students in traditional classes are asked to view their professor’s MOOC lectures for homework, so that class time can be dedicated to lively discussion about the previously viewed material.
“We have seen a considerable improvement in learning outcomes,” she said. “In some ways, [MOOCs] transcend the way students would interact with an instructor.”
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