Google + edX =

Written by Larry Press

Google and edX have joined forces to create, an open educational platform for everyone. Larry Press dives into the benefits and hopes of — In the past, I’ve written about how universities and university systems (like mine) could host open source MOOC platforms from Google and MIT edX. This would open the door to faculty and other staff to experiment with innovative educational technology, allowing the development of specific instructional modules that supplement their own courses or complete MOOCs.


Image credits: Larry Press

Even more so, I’ve suggested that Google could offer a hosted service where individuals could do the same without support of their university. In other words, we could easily move toward a YouTube-like experience for MOOCs and modular teaching material.

It looks like my second suggestion likely has a future — as Google and edX announced yesterday that they will be collaborating on

The new service will be usable by mid-2014 but most of the details (including revenue sources) have not yet been disclosed. With that said, open software, open data and significant collaboration are clear values for this non-profit entity.

Here are a couple of quotes from Google and MIT on the new service (see my comments in parentheses).

From Google:

  • “We support the development of a diverse education ecosystem, as learning expands in the online world. Part of that means that educational institutions should easily be able to bring their content online and manage their relationships with their students.” (I hope they support individual teachers, students and non-academics who want to develop teaching material in addition to supporting educational institutions.)
  • “Today, Google will begin working with edX as a contributor to the open source platform, Open edX.” (It sounds as though the edX and Google platforms will be combined. Some time ago, Stanford also rolled their MOOC effort into edX. Perhaps competition from Udacity and Coursera has been a factor in driving this consolidation.)

From edX:

  • “In collaboration with Google, edX will build out and operate, a new site for non-xConsortium universities, institutions, businesses, governments and teachers to build and host their courses for a global audience.” (This sounds like “EdX for the rest of us” — those who cannot afford edX fees and are not at elite universities.)
  • “Google shares our mission to improve learning both on-campus and online. Working with Google’s world-class engineers and technology will enable us to advance online, on-campus and blended learning experiences faster and more effectively than ever before … This new site for online learning will provide a platform for colleges, universities, businesses and individuals around the world to produce high-quality online and blended courses. will be built on Google infrastructure.” (It sounds like Google is bringing their Hangout, Live Stream, YouTube, +, etc. infrastructure to the party.)

The devil, as always, will be in the details. But this combination of MIT’s educational expertise and reputation, Google’s vast infrastructure and the lofty goals of both organizations could be a revolutionary step for education.

For aNewDomain, I’m Larry Press.

Based in Los Angeles, Larry Press is a founding senior editor covering tech here at He’s also a professor of information systems at California State University at Dominguez Hills. Check his Google+ profile — he’s at +Larry Press — or email him at


  • I don’t think any education system can meet those three things, but online does a pretty incredible job.

    The cost ranges from free, to minimal, it’s definitely convenient because you do it when it is best for you.

    The quality is debatable, obviously you don’t have someone right there to help you, I’m sure that will change in the future. But you also get to learn at your pace regarding the lesson, if I get stuck, I can easily stop the video to try to comprehend it at my level.

    I’m pretty confident if you look at the traditional education system, that it won’t come close on cost, convenience and quality.?

    Allan Barry Laboucan

  • Quality will come down a lot to production quality. Skimp on good equipment and everything suffers.

    The people presenting have to be quality people as well. No monotone or camera shyness.?

    Robert Knight