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edX and Stanford Partnering on Open-source MOOC platform

leaning right

by darkmatter via Flickr


As we noted earlier, edX is following an open-source MOOC model, releasing its source code for anyone use to homebrew their own MOOC platform. The idea is to enable educational institutions to download the edX platform (much like websites use, it sounds like). They could then develop their own online and blended learning platforms, adapting the code for their own personal circumstances. (Here’s hoping somebody soon writes the plug-in that makes all those chaotic forums function better.)

Today, we get a glimpse of what that might look like in practice. edX and Stanford University are announcing a new collaboration. Stanford will be using the edX platform in the future and will support its development, starting with integrating their Class2Go platform into the XBlock SDK source code.

Below is the full text of today’s press release.


Stanford University to Collaborate with edX on Development of Non-Profit Open Source edX Platform


edX Learning Platform to be open source and available on June 1


CAMBRIDGE, MA and STANFORD, CA – April 3, 2013 – Stanford University and edX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today announced their collaboration to advance the development of edX’s open source learning platform and provide free and open online learning tools for institutions around the world.


As part of this announcement, edX will release the source code for its entire online learning platform on June 1, 2013. In support of that move, Stanford will integrate features of its existing Class2Go platform into the edX platform, use the integration as an internal platform for online coursework for on-campus and distance learners, and work collaboratively with edX and other institutions to further develop the edX platform.


“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 University. “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.”


EdX and Stanford will collaborate along with others around the globe on the ongoing development and refinement of the edX online learning platform.  As of June 1, developers everywhere will be able to freely access the source code of the edX learning platform, including code for its Learning Management System (LMS); Studio, a course authoring tool; xBlock, an application programming interface (API) for integrating third-party learning objects; and machine grading API’s.  EdX will support and nurture the community of developers contributing to the enhancement of the edX platform by providing a rich environment for developer collaboration as well as technical and process guidelines to facilitate developer contributions.


“It has been our vision to offer our platform as open source since edX’s founding by Harvard and MIT,” stated Anant Agarwal, president of edX.  “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.”


EdX is pursuing an open source vision to enhance access to higher education for the entire world.  One of the chief benefits of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is that they bring together a tremendously diverse student body to learn with and from each other.  EdX has chosen to extend that perspective to its learning platform as well, knowing that drawing upon the global community of developers is an effective route to both transform and deliver the world’s best and most accessible online and blended learning experience.


MOOCs and innovative online teaching approaches on college campuses, such as the “flipped classroom,” use web environments that support interactive video, online discussion, social/cohort interaction, assessment and other functions.  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. Further developing online opportunities through open source technology is a key objective of the partnership between edX and Stanford.


Stanford will continue to provide a range of platforms for its instructors to choose from in hosting their online coursework, including continued partnerships with Coursera and other providers. The university will focus its ongoing platform development efforts on the new platform, combining key features from the Class2Go open source platform with the open source edX code base.


The edX learning platform source code, as well as platform developments from Stanford, edX and other contributors, will be available on June 1, 2013 and can be accessed from the edX Platform Repository located at


About edX


EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open source platform. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX is focused on people, not profit, and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.


About Stanford University


Stanford University is engaged in a variety of efforts to develop online learning –experimenting with coursework for both on-campus and off-campus students, researching key questions around what a digital environment means for teaching and learning, and pursuing platform development.  More information on Stanford’s online learning activities is available at




Robert McGuire (52 Posts)

My content marketing services firm provides all-in-one external staff solutions for companies looking to grow their business through thought leadership. I started MOOC News & Reviews in 2013 out of a fascination with the economic, demographic and technological forces impacting edtech, online education and higher education, and I wanted to provide a forum for serious discussion of this new phenomenon. I love building communities of writers engaging in lively critical dialogue about emerging issues.


  1. Great post, I was wondering if you know: Are there any MOOC platforms that offer interaction with their platform via a Web-Service API. I.e. very similar to how Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc, opens their back-end for programmatic access, mostly via RESTful Service APIs. If so, are there any good MOOC platforms that does this? Thanks!

    • Sorry, that’s outside my expertise. Perhaps one of our technically oriented readers will have the answer. Be sure to let us know about the project you’re working on when you get this part figured out. -Robert