Like many of you, I've been trying to get my head around the announcement that edX and Google are entering into a partnership.
How big a deal is this partnership for higher ed?
I had the opportunity to chat with edX's marketing and communications team, and I think that I have some idea why the edX / Google partnership is important news.
Reason #1 - Google's Learning Platform Decision:
Google has been developing its Course Builder platform for a couple of years now. From here on out, Google will place Course Builder in maintenance mode, and devote resources and infrastructure to the edX platform.
This is a huge vote of confidence on Google's part for the edX platform. It means that Google will devote significant developer time (the actual commitment has not been released) to evolving and improving the edX platform.
Reason #2 - Leveraging Google's Infrastructure / MOOC.org:
The Google / edX relationship will mean that edX will be able to take advantage of the scale of Google's cloud computing infrastructure. We will see this first at http://mooc.org/, which will position edX as a free, a multi-tenant cloud-based offering for any educational entity that wants to offer open courses.
A school (or some other entity that wants to offer a course) could choose to locally host their own instance of edX, or they could use the MOOC.org platform and not incur hosting and bandwidth costs. This should lower the barriers for creating, and possibly finding, open courses once MOOC.org begins to gain some traction.
Reason #3 - Enabling edX to Focus on Courses and Innovation - Not Infrastructure:
As I read this announcement, it seems to me that the big win going forward for edX will be that this Google partnership will allow edX to focus resources and attention more on learning, and less on technology.
This seems to be particularly salient on the operational side of technology - the standing up of servers and database management etc.
More time and resources for innovation, more opportunities to partner with Google to develop edX, and less need to invest time and resources on running and managing existing services.
Running a cloud based infrastructure is something that Google does better than anyone else. (Although Amazon and Microsoft may disagree).
There are many more questions than answers in this edX / Google partnership.
What will be the new revenue models that edX is able to create?
Will this relationship mean that Google will be able to focus its educational efforts on learning, gaining traction beyond its current footprint in higher ed of Google Apps for Education?
Will edX evolve to the point where it can serve as an enterprise LMS, replacing Blackboard or Canvas or Moodle or D2L?
These and other questions will all be answered in time, but for now I think we should see this Google / edX partnership as both a big deal and a good thing for higher education.
What am I missing in this analysis?
What are your questions about the edX / Google partnership?