Class2Go: Stanford Ups the Ante for MOOCs

Our regular readers (both of them) will know that we are closely following how technology is affecting workforce development in general and higher education in particular.  Tech Crunch reports that Stanford University has come out with a new platform for its Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that makes the process even more open:

[As] of this month, Stanford has added yet another MOOC. While that may seem superfluous, Class2Gois no clone — it’s bringing a unique approach to its online learning platform. Created by eight engineers in Stanford’s CS Department, the not-for-profit service has been designed from the bottom up both for teaching and research, with a focus on portability and interoperability.

To unpack that a little: When Class2Go says it’s portable, it means that it wants to be platform agnostic. Its documents are already portable, its videos already live outside its system on YouTube, its assets can be repurposed as professors see fit and the platform’s exercises and problem sets are in the Khan Academy format (meaning they’re not in a proprietary database) and can be used anywhere.

In terms of interoperability, Class2Go’s website reads, “we don’t want to build or maintain more than we have to,” so it stands on the shoulders of, or relies significantly on, other services to run, like Khan, Piazza, YouTube, Python Django, Amazon AWS, Opscode and Github. Furthermore, designing the platform for both teaching and research means that the platform will leverage data to inform and evolve pedagogy, as well as to give them a glimpse into the efficacy of lessons, teaching style, tech tools, etc.

But the biggest differentiating factor for Class2Go — in case it hasn’t yet become apparent — is its early dedication to building and maintaining a totally open-source platform. This means that the platform aims to be both free of cost and of pricey IP, while professors are free to contribute to Class2Go’s code and get involved in the development of the platform, as well as to collaborate with other institutions and organizations.

So Stanford faculty are going to have a cheap and easy platform for creating MOOCs.  Is Stanford trying to create barriers to entry for other universities?  You can read the full post here.

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