Class2Go is dead, long live edX!

Two significant and related stories have been popping up repeatedly in my different news feeds over the past 24 hours.[1]

The first of these is that Stanford University is going to collaborate with edX on the future development of edX’s open source platform. In practical terms, this means that the engineering team focusing on Stanford’s current open-source platform for online courses, Class2Go, will put this project into maintenance mode and shift its attention to the open-source platform underlying edX.

Even though it will collaborate on the platform, Stanford will not be offering its online courses under the edX moniker. Instead, the university will offer them through a Stanford-branded and hosted version of the platform, as well as through its existing partners like Coursera.

The second bit of news is that the source code for the (combined) open-source edX platform will be available for download on the project’s GitHub account by June 1, 2013. This includes the code for the learning management system (LMS), the course authoring tool (Studio) and application programming interface for third party content (XBlock). The edX platform is built atop the Python web framework Django and other open source tools, and will be released under the GNU AGPL. (In contrast, Class2Go was earlier released under the Apache license, Version 2.0. I am still researching the implications of this.)

These bits of news are extremely exciting to me and here’s why:

I am personally on-board the online education train. Ever since I’ve learnt a ton taking multiple classes (across Coursera, edX, Udacity, Code School, Stanford’s iTunes U etc.), I’ve become obsessed with the idea of using realistic simulations to motivate and teach students advanced topics in applied mathematics and physical science online.

In my attempts to make this a reality, I’ve been working hard on taking research-level simulation code and presenting them online using an easy-to-use interface. Most recently, I’ve been playing with and evaluating Class2Go and XBlock to see how to fit my simulation technology into a broader course platform. Now I don’t have to pick between them or duplicate my efforts to effectively interact with them separately. Here’s to a stronger, more unified future for online learning!


1. Isn’t the filter bubble a wonderful thing?