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The Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning (VPOL) supports OpenEdX as part of its commitment to advance creative teaching and learning initiatives and data-driven educational research.
OpenEdX is the open-source release of the edX platform developed by the non-profit organization founded by Harvard and MIT. In April 2013 Stanford and edX agreed to collaborate on future development of the edX platform.
In July 2013 the platform was released as open source for developers everywhere to use, improve, and share. Stanford engineers have contributed new functionality to the open-source software, including real-time chat, bulk email, new installation scripts, operations tools and integration with external survey tools.
In September 2013, Google committed to the development of OpenEdX, and to offer a hosted version of the platform, so that organizations wanting to use it will not necessarily have to install an instance of the software themselves.
Because OpenEdX is open source, other universities and educational providers can use it freely to support their own online learning initiatives. They can host courses using their own installation of OpenEdX within their own IT infrastructure, or by using a third-party hosting service. Organizations running the OpenEdX platform retain control of their own branding, and of their relationships with their own students and other users. Data generated by particular instances of OpenEdX are solely in the control of the organizations that produce those instances.
Universities and other organizations using OpenEdX also control the license for their content. They may release or redistribute that content in a variety of forms—original, revised, remixed—to multiple audiences without special permissions from a platform owner. This flexibility gives educators the freedom to experiment, and to greatly expand the reach of their instructional materials.
OpenEdX as a Research Tool
Online courses are generating educational data at a historically unprecedented rate and scale. By having control over the data collection for Stanford courses delivered on OpenEdX, our researchers are rapidly accumulating usable knowledge in new data sciences of teaching and learning. Stanford faculty and instructional designers can use course data to iteratively improve their teaching and the university’s learning environment more broadly.
OpenEdX also facilitates collaboration between Stanford and other institutions in joint efforts to improve education.
Other Platforms to Choose From
OpenEdX is one of three platforms VPOL currently supports for delivery of digital course content. The others are Coursera and NovoEd (formerly Venture Lab). Stanford University also offers online courses through the Stanford Center for Professional Development, on YouTube and iTunesU.
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