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Google, EdX team up for online courses

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have grown in popularity over the last several years, and Google wants a slice of the action.

A relic on the past?
Jonathan Skillings/CNET

Google is partnering with EdX on an upcoming site called MOOC.org that's dedicated to organizing and hosting thousands of free MOOCs -- or massive open online courses -- offered by schools and universities worldwide.

Google and EdX, a non-profit MOOC platform founded last year by MIT and Harvard, said Tuesday they will work together to build MOOC.org, where organizations -- including businesses, schools, universities, and governments -- can build and host their own courses. Google and EdX are also jointly developing an open-source learning platform called Open EdX and expanding the tools available to educators to create courses.

The site is due to fully launch in mid-2014.

MOOCs are a flexible way to study in your own time (and time zone) through video lectures, assignments, discussion forums, and e-mail. In addition to EdX, other MOOC platforms include Coursera and Udacity.

The new site will be built on Google infrastructure. The search engine giant will work with EdX partners to expand MOOCs and will also take part in research into how students learn and how technology can transform learning.

"We have long admired Google's commitment to open access to information, and we believe they will be a perfect partner to work with as we shape the next generation of open education and learning," said Anant Agarwal, EdX president and an MIT professor.

EdX, which is wo hopes the platform will become a tool for universities that want to test the possibilities of online courses not only to further their reputation but to generate new revenue. In addition, students who don't want to take full university or business courses can use the platform as a way to sample classes.