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Stanford to collaborate with edX to develop a free, open source online learning platform

EdX will be available as an open source learning platform on June 1.  In support of that move, Stanford will integrate features of its existing Class2Go open source online learning platform into the edX platform.

L.A. Cicero Hands typing on a laptop computer

Stanford is evaluating how students best learn, and how faculty can best teach, in an online environment.

Stanford University will collaborate with edX, the nonprofit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard and MIT, to advance the development of edX's open source learning platform and continue to provide free and open online learning tools for institutions around the world. 

By June 1, edX will release the source code for its entire online learning platform. In support of that move, Stanford will integrate features of its existing Class2Go open source online learning platform into the edX platform, use the integration as a platform for online coursework for on-campus and distance learners, and work collaboratively with edX and other institutions to further develop the open source platform.

"This collaboration brings together two leaders in online education in a common effort to ensure that the world's universities have the strongest possible not-for-profit, open source platform available to them," said John Mitchell, vice provost for online learning." A not-for-profit, open source platform will help universities experiment with different ways to produce and share content, fostering continued innovation through a vibrant community of contributors."

Stanford will continue to provide a range of platforms for faculty to choose from in hosting their online coursework, including continued partnerships with Coursera, Venture Lab and other providers. The university will focus its ongoing platform development efforts on the new merged platform, combining key features from the Class2Go open source platform with the open source edX code base.

"We will continue to use multiple online learning platforms and determine which platform and approach best serves the educational goals put forward by our faculty and what best matches their interests," Mitchell said. "But we will focus our development efforts on a single, open source platform which makes the most efficient use of our time and resources."

EdX and Stanford will collaborate along with others around the globe on the ongoing development and refinement of the edX online learning platform. EdX will support and nurture the community of developers contributing to the enhancement of the edX platform by providing a rich environment for developer collaboration as well as technical and process guidelines to facilitate developer contributions.

"It has been our vision to offer our platform as open source since edX's founding by Harvard and MIT," said Anant Agarwal, president of edX.  "We are now realizing that vision, and I am pleased to welcome Stanford University, one of the world's leading institutions of higher education, to further this global open source solution.  I want to acknowledge the key role played by our edX Consortium member UC-Berkeley, which was instrumental in fostering this collaboration. We believe the edX platform – the Linux of learning – will benefit from all the world's institutions and communities."

Mitchell said that Stanford's Class2Go platform development team has been in contact with the edX team for a number of months, and that much code is already synchronized so that the collaboration between the two platforms will be a smooth one. The advantage will then be "a larger team building one strong open source platform, rather than two competing open source platforms, which we think will be more desirable for universities around the world," Mitchell added.

Stanford is evaluating how students best learn, and how faculty can best teach, in an online environment.  While Stanford faculty continue to develop MOOCs, the array of online exploration on campus is much wider. Faculty are teaching more Stanford on-campus courses with online components, such as flipped classrooms, interactive video, social interaction, assessment and other functions. They're exploring new ways of packaging online content for different audiences with varied needs. And they're asking the big questions about where online is going and what it means for education itself.

Stanford faculty members have shared their online teaching experiences in a series of videos released this week on the Stanford Online website.

Open source online learning platforms such as edX will allow universities to develop their own delivery methods, partner with other universities and institutions as they choose, collect data, and control branding of their educational material. Further developing online opportunities through open source technology is a key objective of the partnership between edX and Stanford.

The edX learning platform source code, as well as platform developments from Stanford, edX and other contributors, will be available on June 1, 2013, and can be accessed from the edX Platform Repository.  On that date, developers everywhere will be able to freely access the source code of the edX learning platform, including code for its Learning Management System Studio, a course authoring tool; xBlock, an application programming interface (API) for integrating third-party learning objects; and machine grading API's.