Google has recently taken its first step into online education by releasing an open-source education platform called Course Builder. It is essentially a tool for anyone to build and deliver their own courses. The search giant hopes that the software will grab the attention of universities and be utilized to deliver free online classes. In addition, Course Builder could also be incorporated into a traditional course, allowing an instructor to provide original or open-source content to their students, reducing the need for expensive textbooks.
In summer of 2012, Google piloted the software by offering a free open course called Power Searching, which attracted 155,000 registered students. As long as the general feedback from the testing is positive, Google has indicated that it has plans to continue updating the platform and perhaps build it into a more polished Google service in the future.
So far, nine universities have already shown interest in using the platform, including Stanford University. Google has also commented that they have been in contact with the edX project, a partnership among Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley to offer free courses online.
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