Google has just become the latest tech giant to jump in to the MOOC world, announcing yesterday that it will be partnering with Harvard and MIT’s edX to develop the company’s online MOOC platform. The project aims to create a “Youtube for MOOCs”, allowing any interested party, from schools individuals, to easily sign up and begin publishing courses for free online. In a discussion with Inside Higher Ed, edX’s president hinted at the company’s vision for the project:
Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, Anant Agarwal, president of edX and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the new platform and website could be described as a method to crowdsource education.“Until now, we had opened one end of the spigot, so to speak,” Agarwal said, referring to the online courses created in cooperation with edX’s partner institutions. “All of us are learners and all of us are teachers. I think this is a way to enable anybody to experiment with courses.”
Google’s involvement may well be limited to the technical side, but the entry of a company of Google’s size and expertise is still a major shakeup. Unlike Coursera and Udacity, edX is completely nonprofit and open source, and will remain so even in its partnership with Google. It will be interesting to see how the existence of a free service backed by Google will affect the business model and competitiveness of services like Coursera and Udacity, neither of which has yet developed a clear path to profitablity. We’ll be watching closely.