Any opinions on Oppia Googles Course Building Platform?

Hey Ushnish. @vanessa told me about it, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it. Have you had a look? What are your thoughts?

The things I’m normally interested in when looking at a course building platform are:

  • Is it any good?
  • Is it open source?
  • Can I host it on open platforms? Google course builder was built for the google app engine only.
  • Is it documented?
  • Does it use web standards? HTML5, JavaScript & CSS
  • Does it force a certain educational style?
  • Will it be around for some time? What will happen when Google moves on?

ps. According to this Google moved on from course builder and are now focussing their efforst on EdX.

Hi @ushnish and @dirk,

I took a look at Oppia, and to answer @dirk 's questions:

  • Is it any good? So far, I prefer Lernanta.
  • Is it open source? Yes it is. All lessons are licensed under CC-BY-SA.
  • Can I host it on open platforms? yes you can. The code is here:
  • Is it documented? Yes it is. Here is the User Wiki:
  • Does it use web standards? Yes.
  • Does it force a certain educational style? From what I have seen thus far, creating a course is like creating a state machine. Taking a course is a very insular experience, with little interaction with others.The feeling is of watching slide shows and filling out forms.
  • Will it be around for some time? What will happen when Google moves on? This is always the problem with Google. Look at Google Wave and Google Reader. I thought they would be around for a long time. Now I am left with some data extracts from those systems just before they were shut down, taking up space and not very useful to me now.

I have the feeling that this is a work in progress in its early stages. I’m sure it will grow and evolve as the user-base grows.


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Thanks @ralfe! Super useful info!

Is Oppia hosted using Google App Engine (GAE) or does it use a standard web stack like LAMP? I got the impression they are using GAE from glancing at the code. I’m not up to date on GAE, but I don’t know if there is a production ready equivalent that you can self host? Iow, you need to pay good money to host the code.

Are there any questions that you would add while looking at the options? Things that are important to you?

Hi @dirk,

From closer inspection of their code, I can confirm that they are using the
Google App Engine. However, looking at the way they have structured their
code, I see they have made provision for replacing GAE with another data
storage system. They provide a Platform() interface-ish class for doing

Here are some questions I would ask when considering alternative course
creation platforms:

  • Can I embed various media into the course content?
  • Does the platform promote engagement between participants, and between
    the participant and the course organizer.
  • Is the course content searchable?
  • Does the platform allow choice of assessment method?
  • Does the platform allow participants to submit work and other content?
  • Does the platform support commenting?
  • As a course creator, what level of flexibility do I have over the
    course content markup?
  • As a course creator, am I able to see a history of edits to the course
  • As a course organizer, do I get alerted when there has been
    participant interaction needing my attention?

These are the initial questions that come to mind. I’ll add more if I think
of others.


Thanks for this useful discussion guys.
I had one question
Does the platform have an easily accessible community that can be drawn on for expertise, collaboration etc?

It seems the non-open source commercial proprietary platforms for collaboration such as Google, Facebook etc. are engaged in a “winner take all” game since most people you need to collaborate with are already on it.

This will be Google’s advantage. I am hearing “everyone has a gmail/google+ account already” more often.

The technical folk have no problem with signing onto or trying out dozens of new collaboration platforms, so they say "why dont you use “xyz” instead of Facebook/Google etc.

Most of the non-technical folk I now are reluctant to sign on to additional platforms to collaborate.

Having said all that, my requirements in the context of development of a course are modest, and I am going to do the first attempt on P2PU, and consider porting the content to a different platform later if required.

Will start off a separate post on the proposed course.


Hi @ushnish,

I think the Oppia platform is too young to have a community developed yet, although there is a Google Group that the developers use as a “developers’ forum”, which you can find here:!forum/oppia. It seems that if you want to start using it, you’re pretty much on your own. Also, from what I can tell, this isn’t an “Official Google” product. I am guessing this might have emerged from a Google “20% Project”. Interestingly I see Peter Norvig was involved. From playing around with it a bit, it seems very restrictive. I’m sure it will improve in time, but for now my opinion is that it has not matured enough to be considered for real-world use.


While I like the interface for creating logical sequences, I am not sure that learning is a ‘finite state’ activity in general. I.e. much of learning emerges through rich environmental and social interactions. “Finite state learning” seems similar to reductionalist and industrialist educational paradigms.