Recently, Google entered the online education market by introducing Course Builder. Originally designed to be used as the architecture behind an online course for Power Searching with Google, Course Builder offers all of the software and instructions someone would need to develop an online class. Before anyone decides they are going to shut down their Blackboard or Desire2Learn course or power down their Moodle server, I need to share a few words of caution. While the Course Builder tools are free, building a course won’t be easy. As Google itself outlines, Course Builder users are expected to have the following basic skill set:
- Experience creating course material either for a traditional live classroom or for a more traditional online class.
- HTML familiarity.
- App Engine familiarity is a plus, but it’s not necessary.
Teaching online isn’t just about managing the technical components so they’re coded correctly. Online instruction, like face-to-face instruction, should be guided by educational principles and learning theory. Online instructors need to build courses which identify students’ learning needs and builds progressively to larger concepts. Online courses need to foster authentic learning communities where students share ideas and collaborate to solve larger problems. With this version of Course Builder, however, Google passed on the chance to offer instruction on these areas to its technical audience. Hopefully, in its next iteration, Google will create a Course Builder that is a lot less technically focused and targets the educational components of online learning.