Google has entered the increasingly crowded eLearning fray with their new Course Builder software, an open source software that will allow educators to create courses of their own on any topic.
Their first course, Power Searching With Google released in July 2012, saw 155,000 students register for the course–and 20,000 complete it (a little less than 8%). Wasting no time, the software is now Open Source, and has been released into the wild to see what will happen.
We’ve been playing around with it some, and there is absolutely potential in any K-20 learning environment, as well as business and community organization application.
“Course Builder packages the software and technology Google used to build our Power Searching with Google online course (www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com). The first time we offered Power Searching, 155,000 students registered and over 20,000 students completed the course.
The following checklist overview is sourced directly from Google’s Course Builder wiki, which also features a forum (that’s still rather sparse) to ask questions and collaborate with others. It is provided to give you a basic idea of what using the software entails, and better understanding if it’s right for your needs. More detailed instructions are available on the site.
When you use Course Builder, you create your course as an App Engine application. Currently, each App Engine application can consume a certain level of computing resources for free, controlled by a set of limits. If you need resources above these free limits, you can switch to a paid app to set a daily resource budget. For more information, see Develop with App Engine.
Steps to Implementation
- Define the problem statement and high-level goal of the course.
- Identify your audience and your assumptions.
- Define course objectives.
- Consider course logistics.
- Clarify your goals and non-goals for the course.
- Clarify your assumptions about your students.
- Write clear, specific objectives.
- Decide what you want to test in your assessments, both graded and ungraded.
- Decide what other data to collect to evaluate the efficacy of your course.
- Sequence and organize your content into digestible chunks.
- Validate your content with others.
In these steps, all pathnames are relative to the directory containing your application. Every place in the code you must make a change is marked by a comment starting with FIXME.
- Set up for development.
- Run the sample app
- Modify the basic look and feel of course pages
by changing views/base.html and views/base_registration.html. Things you must change include:
- The course name, for the title element.
- Code to collect Analytics data. (This change is only in views/base.html.)
- Logo image for the header.
- Link to go with the logo.
- Course name or description for the header.
- Link and name of entity responsible for the course, for the footer.
- Modify the registration pages.
- Change the content at views/register.html to ask whatever registration questions you want.
- If you change those questions, you must also change RegisterHandler in controllers/utils.py.
- Change the content at views/confirmation.html to include the correct discussion group and email list. (You must first create the lists. That step is listed in C.3.
- Modify the course home page.
- Create course lessons.
- Create Activities.
- Change the look of activity pages at views/activity.html.
- Define the activity content in files named activity-N.M.js, where N is the unit number and M is the lesson number.
- Create Assessments.
- Deploy your app to production.
- Prepare announcements and optional material.
- Setup a community discussion forum.
- Add the link to your discussion forum to the file views/forum.html.
- Add links to both your discussion forum and your email list to the file views/confirmation.html.
- Engage and train teaching assistants.
- Schedule online office hours.
- Analyze assessment data.
- Create a survey to analyze student happiness.
- Capture reach & engagement data.