A Google E-Learning Ecosystem?

Considering the deal with edX.

September 23, 2013

Does Google's deal with edX to develop Open edX and to host MOOC.org signal the dawning of a Google e-learning ecosystem?

Let's do a thought experiment.  

Say that you wanted to run your online program using only Google platforms, products, and services. Could you do it?

Up until the edX - Google deal it would have been difficult. Smarter people than me were able to get Course Builder (the platform that Google is putting into maintenance) to work, but for mere mortals (read non-programmers), Google never really had any platform that was workable for online course development and teaching.

Now the edX Open platform is going to evolve and improve, as Google is putting developer and infrastructure resources behind the project.   

Nobody from edX is saying that edX open or MOOC.org is intended to be an LMS replacement. Why pick that fight? But it makes perfect sense.  

Why wouldn't a school want to use the same platform for their campus (private) courses as their open courses?  

Wouldn't it make sense to easily be able to designate some parts of a course that are open (such as the course content, formative assessment or public discussion boards), and wall-off other parts of the course (such as internal discussion boards or graded assignment areas) for only those matriculated (and tuition paying) students?

So at some point down the road edX Open will evolve into a viable LMS substitute. Can we help to push along this development?

Once Google has an LMS (edX Open), the other pieces are mostly in place.

The potential for YouTube to compete against media management platforms aimed at higher education (think Kaltura, Ensemble, and ShareStream) has always been present. With some tweaks in its licensing and some new features (such as the ability to upload content easily from presentation capture systems), YouTube EDU could handle all of our course media needs.    

So far Google has not really pushed its Chromebook or the Nexus N7 tablet as devices for online education. There seems to be many more one-to-one iPad programs in higher ed than Chromebook or N7 programs. This could change.   

For $249 it might make perfect sense for an online or blended degree program to ship every student and faculty member a Chromebook. Support costs and challenges instantly drop to zero. Google invests resources to make edX Open work flawlessly on the Chromebook and we have a great learning experience. Or edX Open goes mobile in a big way with Android and the N7.   

EdX Open and Google's hardware is of course complemented by Google Drive.   Google's collaboration tools are second to none. It will be interesting to see how Google's productivity and collaboration tools get baked into edX Open and MOOC.org.    

What remains to be seen is how serious Google is about edX Open. How big a strategic priority that Google will make developing this learning platform?   How much resources Google will invest to integrate learning tools with its existing platform and services?

How can we engage Google with these questions?

What is the best way to understand what the leadership of Google is thinking when it comes to building an e-learning ecosystem?


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