Google open-sources online learning tools

Google has released a set of online tools for educators under an open-source license, allowing for experimentation and collaborative development of the Course Builder system.

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"The Course Builder open source project is an experimental early step for us in the world of online education. It is a snapshot of an approach we found useful and an indication of our future direction. We hope to continue development along these lines, but we wanted to make this limited code base available now, to see what early adopters will do with it, and to explore the future of learning technology," wrote Google director of research Peter Norvig in an official blog post.

Google says that Stanford University, UC - San Diego, and Indiana University are all looking to utilize the Course Builder framework in the design of their online offerings, as are overseas institutions like Spain's Universia and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

Collaborative events will be held "in the upcoming months," according to Google, they will be aimed at spreading awareness of Course Builder and instructing educators in its use. The company also says that it's working with edX - a non-profit joint venture between Harvard and MIT developing online learning offerings along the same lines - to create open standards and share ideas.

Google is closely involved in the open-source community, most notably through its open-source Android mobile OS. The Android Open-Source Project provides a wide variety of resources for developers, creating a thriving community of modders and making a wide array of custom ROMs available to enthusiasts.

Email Jon Gold at and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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