GOOD

Open Source Platform Allows Anyone to Create Online Courses

A new nonprofit project started at Stanford called Class2Go brings a collaborative, open source ethos to online learning.


Online learning options like Coursera, EdX, and Udacity have made classes previously accessible only through enrollment at one of the nation's top universities available to the world. But what happens to colleges and universities not partnering with these so-called Massively Open Online Course providers? A new nonprofit project developed by eight Stanford engineers called Class2Go might have a solution. They let anyone in the world use their open source platform to run their own online course for free.

Like many MOOC's, Class2G0 allows users to learn via videos and interactive quizzes. But because the creators "believe strongly that valuable course content shouldn't be tied to any one platform," the videos are housed on mobile device-friendly YouTube. That ethos of portability is at the heart of their Khan Academy-style practice exercises, too. Instead of the exercises "being trapped in a propriety database," they can be used anywhere, the founders say on their site. The creators simply "don't want to built or maintain more than we have to."


MOOCs are still so new we don't know yet which one is the modern equivalent of BETA and which is VHS—destined to be the platform that triumphs over all. The collaborative, free, open source nature of Class2Go could certainly help position it as a major online learning player.

While the creators are eager "to have others use the platform, or to work together with similar efforts in other places," two Stanford classes taught by their reknowned faculty—Computer Networking with Nick McKeown and Philip Levis and Solar Cells, Fuel Cells, and Batteries with Bruce Clemens—are kicking things off with classes starting October 8th.

Perhaps they'll be willing to let anyone who has some serious expertise—think Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey, or even you—start their own course, too.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Ryan Somma

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Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

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Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

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Low-flow shower head

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Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

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