Another day, another MOOC platform coming from Stanford. But don't roll your eyes! Say hello to Class2Go, developed by Jane Manning, Sef Kloninger and a team of engineers that include Stanford students. Following the wake of all the buzz about Udacity and Coursera (both with Stanford origins), the project started back in July of this year and was built over the course of just over eleven weeks. The difference? The team has been “unwavering from the start that Class2Go remains an open-source, portable and interoperable platform.” That's right: it promises to be free of charge, and free of expensive IP. (Hopefully the free IP will be valuable!)
This means that professors (or, more likely their TAs) will be free to work off of Class2Go’s stacks and contribute to the code to create new features to their classes. Collaboration across institutions and organizations is encouraged. And all content--docs, videos, problem exercises--remains the property of the creator. (The team highly recommends using the Khan Academy infrastructure for creating exercises.)
Two of Stanford's 16 upcoming online courses in the fall will be offered on this platform. Professors Nick NcKeown and Philip Levis will be using it for their Introduction to Computer Networks course. "We believe we're still in the infancy of this new medium of education," says Levis. "As computer networking people, we very much believe in 'letting a million flowers bloom.' More platforms is better at this stage so we can assess their different strengths and weaknesses."
Supported by Stanford, the team behind Class2Go is, for the moment, free from the burden of coming up with a revenue model. This luxury allows them to observe when contributors add new features and make the appropriate tweaks to better support the community. Manning and Kloninger are keen to see how others will jazz it up for less objective courses, say, music and humanities, which are currently not well-served by existing online learning platforms. And they wouldn’t be surprised if some enterprising teacher used the platform for K-12 content.