Facebook could one day help massive open online course (MOOC) providers deliver education to more remote parts of the globe, an executive with the social network said.


Facebook has more than 1 billion users in 60 countries.

Speaking at the Transform Africa 2013 Summit in Rwanda, Matt Perault, Facebook’s head of global policy development, said partnerships between MOOC platforms and far-reaching social media websites could allow for a wider distribution of educational content, according to Wired.

“I do think there’s a tremendous opportunity in education which has not yet been realized and that is connecting massively open online courses, which are known as MOOCs, with distribution networks like Facebook, so as to get educational content out to a larger number of people,” Perault said.

Providing greater access to such content has been a much-publicized goal of MOOC companies, and recent months have seen a more calculated push to increase the global reach of the courses.

edX in October partnered with both the Chinese and French ministries of education.

Coursera announced a similar partnership with a Chinese internet company, and it recently helped create more than 30 physical MOOC “learning hubs” in 24 cities around the world.

See Page 2 for details on what ways Facebook has already attempted to link higher education and social networking.

“Ensuring the accessibility of quality educational content, regardless of a person’s location or native language, is at the core of our mission,” Coursera co-founder and co-CEO Andrew Ng said at the time.

Whether Facebook has actually entered any kind of discussions with MOOC platforms remains unclear, but the company has a history of pairing social media and education.

The social network last year introduced “Groups for Schools,” Facebook pages that are only accessible for users with official “.edu” eMail addresses.

On the pages, students can share files like lecture notes and communicate with other group members even if they are not Facebook friends. In some ways, the pages hearken back to Facebook’s origins in 2004, when it was accessible only to those with .edu eMail addresses.

Facebook also already acts as a publicity and recruitment platform for many universities, a role some colleges say they envision MOOCs playing.

The website has more than 1 billion active users in at least 60 countries, with three-quarters of those users living outside of the United States.

Follow Jake New on Twitter at @eCN_Jake. Join the conversation with #eCNMOOCs.

Add your opinion to the discussion.