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Stanford Partners with EdX To Improve Platform Ahead of Source Code Release

Stanford University and edX have partnered to integrate parts of the former's Class2Go platform with the edX platform ahead of the public release of the edX source code June 1.

"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 at Stanford, in a prepared statement. "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."

Launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University last May, edX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider designed to aid research into learning and technology and take part in what edX President Anant Agarwal called a "true, planet-scale democratization of education" in a Washington Post report.

Since its launch, edX has grown to include a dozen American and international universities, dubbed the X Consortium, and has released the code for XBlocks, which allow developers to create interactive tools such as a circuit simulator or molecular manipulator for teaching electronics or biology online.

Stanford is also an early leader in the MOOC movement, being home to two professors who launched for-profit platforms Coursera and Udacity.

Though it will fold key features of its open source Class2Go platform into edX, such as technology designed to aid in studying how students use online videos, Stanford will continue to allow professors to choose from among multiple platforms to host and deliver their online coursework. The university will not, however, post classes on edX or invest any money in the initiative.

That freedom to experiment is part of the motivation behind opening the source code for the platform, according to a news release about the new partnership.

"Open source online learning platforms 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," according to the release. "Further developing online opportunities through open source technology is a key objective of the partnership between edX and Stanford."

By releasing the code to the public, the edX team "hope[s] to have a platform that really makes online learning better for everybody in the world," Agarwal told the Los Angeles Times.

The source code, which will be available June 1 at github.com/edX, will include code for the edX learning management system, a course authoring tool called Studio, XBlocks, and machine grading APIs.

"It has been our vision to offer our platform as open source since edX's founding by Harvard and MIT," said Agarwal, in a prepared statement. "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 X 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."

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