Jump to a specific OpenEdX platform update in this article with the following links:
Platform Tour XBlock: The new Platform Tour XBlock is a ready-made tour that can be added to a course to help participants familiarize themselves with the platform. Using the Platform Tour XBlock as is will take advantage of any future tour updates related to platform changes such as course layout and navigation changes also just released. Read about the differences between the Walkthrough Script and the Platform Tour XBlock.
Course Outline: A full-page course outline lists all sections and subsections at once replacing the course outline sidebar on course content pages. Learners can then dive into full page views of content faster with fewer distractions on the page. Previously this was available to newly created courses.
Breadcrumbs: When learners view videos, text, and other course content (which now extends all the way across the page), a "breadcrumb" trail shows them the section, subsection, and unit they're currently in. Previously this was available to newly created courses.
Course Pages: The courseware and info pages are merged into the course outline exposing the course tools sidebar which also appears on the course home page. Course updates can be dismissed and reviewed from a separate page linked in the sidebar. Previously this was available to newly created courses.
Free Text Response XBlock: Peer responses in the Free Text Responses XBlock are shown by default if the participant has previously answered correctly when previously, they did not appear. When clicked, Hide link for displaying peer responses now turns into a Show link. When a participant submits a response that doesn't meet the requirements of that problem, the Submission by others section no longer appears. Previously, it appeared with the word "No".
Student Responses Report: Timestamps are now included in the Student Responses Report.
The following updates were released to Lagunita on November 13, 2018 and to SUClass on November 29, 2018.
Instructor Dashboard: An Open Response Assessment tab has been added to help locate and access open response assessments and provide data about learner progress in completing responses and peer assessments. Also included is a "Waiting" column to differentiate between responses that are waiting for staff grading and those that await peer grading. Cohorted Discussions is now a separate Discussions tab.
Move components: Course authors can move components from one unit to another in a course in Studio.
Linking to Units: Clearer instructions for creating links to units in HTML text components have been added (Just enter /jump_to_id/ and the unit ID number in the dialog box that opens when the insert/edit link icon is selected)
Open Response Assessment (ORA) assignments: ORA assignments now include an option for multiple files and the file upload limit has been increased to 10MB total with the option to accept text responses.
Video transcripts: Upload transcripts to videos that are not hosted on YouTube on the Basic tab of a video component. Upload transcripts in video components regardless of the video source.
Learner Progress: Individual learner progress is available through the “View as specific learner” on the Progress page.
Grade Report: Unenrolled learners have been added to grade reports so that reports now show the number of learners who have ever enrolled the course. An Enrollment Status column has been added to the grade report available from the instructor dashboard.
Rescoring: Input a score of your choosing for individual learners on individual problems. Drag and drop problems can now be rescored, using the same process that CAPA problems use. Added the option to rescore learners only if their score improves especially for occasions when a correct answer was selected, but not acknowledged initially particularly when course teams need to make corrections to problems in a live course. When previously ungraded subsections were changed to graded subsections, grades for these subsections were not recalculated for learners. Now resolved. Learn more about rescoring.
Bookmarks: Bookmarks button now opens to a separate full screen page and navigation for screen readers has been improved.
Cohorts: For newly created courses using cohorts, inline discussions are no longer divided by cohorts by default so that all learners can participate in discussions. This can be changed in the Discussions tab in the Instructor dashboard.
Due Dates: Deadlines within open response assessments now display in the learner’s time zone (instead of UTC).
Show Answer: The “Show Answer” button will display a notification that indicates the answers to the given problem are available in the body of the problem for improved accessibility. Learners were prevented from using the “Show Answer” option more than one time. Now resolved.
Start Date: The Advertised Start Date for courses was not reflected on learners’ dashboards. Now resolved.
Discussions: Learners can now sort inline discussions by most votes, most activity, and recent activity. Content-specific discussion topics were displaying empty topic areas in the navigation pane which is now resolved. Some line breaks between paragraphs were previously ignored, but the issue is now resolved.
Social Media: Learners can easily share a course’s About page to Facebook and Twitter.
Video: Learners are always viewing the highest quality video possible for their internet connection. The video player now uses HLS video playback when YouTube videos are not available. HLS causes the player to continually check each learner’s internet connection and adjust video playback. Learn more about using videos.
Course Outline: For newly created courses, a full-page course outline lists all sections and subsections at once replacing the course outline sidebar on course content pages. Learners can then dive into full page views of content faster with fewer distractions on the page.
Breadcrumbs: For newly created courses, when learners view videos, text, and other course content (which now extends all the way across the page), a "breadcrumb" trail shows them the section, subsection, and unit they're currently in.
Course Pages: For newly created courses, the courseware and info pages are merged into the course outline exposing the course tools sidebar which also appears on the course home page. Course updates can be dismissed and reviewed from a separate page linked in the sidebar.
Help: The Help link has been moved to the top of the page so it doesn't obstruct parts of the page. “Reset your password” confirmation message includes a link to Support.
Note: Existing active courses will take advantage of the Course Outline, Breadcrumbs, and Course Page updates at a later time.
Single sign on for SUNet accounts on Lagunita
Anyone with a SUNet account will soon be able to sign in with his or her credentials via a SUNet button on the Sign in page. For more information, please see How do I log in with my Stanford University account?
Arrows enable progressing between sections
It will be possible to move between units, subsections and sections, using the previous / next arrows that display above and below each unit. Previously, when one reached the end of a subsection, he or she would need to use the left-hand sidebar to move on to the next subsection or section. Please see:
Navigating Between Pages in Courseware
The message that participants see beneath each problem, “You have used X of Y submissions”, will be updated to state, “You have used X of Y attempts”. There will no longer be “Final Submit” messaging on a button when someone is on their last allowed attempt.
The “points possible” text beneath a problem’s display name will additionally indicate if the problem will count toward one’s grade or not.
There will be additional correctness indicators provided beneath a problem when a submission is correct or incorrect.
Please note that, for any problems using some configuration to hide correctness, their correctness status will be made visible by this change. A new visibility setting, described later, may be helpful in accounting for this change.
Feedback statements will be displayed in black text, as opposed to the previous iteration of red or green and based on correctness.
Unit display names will display above the content in a unit. Meanwhile, problem display names that are left blank will display as “problem”, and text and raw HTML component display names will no longer display anywhere.
It will be possible to hide other components’ display names by leaving the display name field blank, including the peer assessment problem. Visit Set the Display Name for a Component to learn more.
A line of preview text will appear in the table of discussion posts, so participants will more readily be able to see what a post is about.
Discussion topics will be expanded by default so that when someone visits the main Discussion forum, he or she will first see forum topics to choose from in order to filter which kinds of posts display. To view all posts, clicking “All Topics” or “All Discussions” will collapse the table of topics and expose the table of posts.
Inline discussion components’ contents will continue to be hidden by default, but they will display a single “Show Discussion” button, as opposed to previously displaying both “Show Discussion” and “New Post” buttons when collapsed.
The “Add a Post” link will only display after the discussion component has been expanded. After the discussion component is expanded, the display will mimic that of the main forum. It will be easier to see at a glance if posts are marked as discussions or questions, and the number of responses to a post will also be shown.
Additional information on inline discussion changes is available here: Inline Discussion Improvements
All users will have the ability to specify what time zone they’re in by going to their Account Settings page.
Course teams will continue to see UTC within Studio.
To learn more about setting time zones, please visit the edX documentation for Selecting Your Time Zone or Location.
The platform will be picking up a number of performance fixes, which should help improve page load times throughout your courses.
Grade reports now differentiate between attempted and not attempted
Generated grade reports will show a 0 for someone who attempted a problem but did not answer it correctly, and “Not Attempted” for someone who did not attempt the problem. Previously, the grade report returned a 0 for both groups.
Note that this change will not apply to the on-screen gradebook feature that is visible in small classes via the Student Admin tab. The attempted / not attempted differentiation will only be applied to the grade report.
More information about grade reports can be found here: Interpreting the Grade Report
New problem grade report and ORA data report
A new problem grade report in the Data Downloads page of the Instructor dashboard will enable you to see your participants’ overall grade, alongside the breakdown of points for each assignment. Two columns for each individual problem component in an assignment will list the points someone earned, and the total points possible. Visit the edX documentation here: Interpreting the Problem Grade Report
A new ORA (open response assessment) data report will mimic what we currently provide in the existing Ora2 Responses reports in a cleaner output, but will not include email addresses nor formatted responses. More information about the ORA data report can be found here: Interpret the ORA Data Report
The Email page in the Instructor dashboard will include the ability to email people based on the cohort group you’ve assigned them to, manually or automatically.
The Email recipient list is also changing to a checkbox format. Note that “All Learners” will no longer include the course team, as it previously did.
Additionally, the sent email history table will include a “Sent to” column, so if you send your email to a specific cohort, they will be labeled. If you sent it to all learners in the course, it will list a number instead.
Additional information can be found in the edX documentation for Message Addressing.
A new Drag and Drop problem component will be available to use, which meets accessibility standards, and provides a more user-friendly interface. It also gives course teams the ability to provide targeted feedback, including being able to give feedback at each step of the way for practice problems, or feedback only after clicking “Submit”.
Although it is not identical in functionality to the existing Drag and Drop, this version will accommodate most use cases, and we recommend using this version where possible.
Please note that edX has marked the old version as deprecated, but we will continue to provide it on our platform for the time being.
Additional information on the new Drag and Drop problem component is available here:
Drag and Drop Problem
The peer assessment feature will provide a staff assessment option that will enable you to add staff assessments to the series of steps you select (such as learner training or self assessment). Enhanced staff controls will also allow you to perform grade overrides as needed, by reviewing a participant as their peers do, using the rubric specified for the assessment.
Additionally, for all new peer assessment problems that you create after this update, there will be a new admin button you can use to grade available responses.
An instruction field will be added to the Word Cloud xblock, so anyone using this feature is welcome to utilize that improvement. More information is available here: Word Cloud Tool
The randomized content block feature previously contained a “Scored” setting. This setting is being removed. Points can continue to be set at the individual problem level.
An issue with display names and max points not carrying over when imported was discovered a while back, which will be fixed in this platform update. Note this improvement will not apply retroactively.
New visibility settings will be available in the Course Outline.
It will be possible to make subsections visible always, hidden always (note it cannot contain graded content if hidden always), or hidden after a due date without affecting earned grades.
More information can be found at Hide a Subsection Based on Date.
Meanwhile, it will also be possible for assessment results, at the subsection level, to be made visible always, never, or after the assessment is past due.
More information can be found at Set Problem Results Visibility.
Course teams will be able to copy units, subsections, and sections, as needed, from the Course Outline. Previously the ability to easily duplicate content was limited to the component level within a unit. The edX documentation can be found here: Duplicating Existing Sections, Subsections, or Units
May 31, 2016
Display OpenEdX Content in Your Canvas Course with the LTI Provider Tool
It is now possible to add problems and content from your OpenEdX course to your Canvas course. You can pull in individual components, units or entire subsections. Scores from graded assignments in your OpenEdX course can be passed back to your Canvas course grading as well. More information on working with the LTI Provider tool can be found here:
Using OpenEdX as an LTI Provider Tool
Create Multiple Prompts in a Peer Assessment Assignment
You can create multiple prompts in a single assessment to enable a randomly-selected peer to review multiple submissions from the same single fellow participant. Information on how to create multiple prompts is available here:
Create a Peer Assessment Assignment
Preview Content as a Specific Learner
This feature lets you view an individual participant’s work in Courseware. You can use this to check their work or look into a question they raised. Information on using this tool is available here:
Specific Student View
New Built-In Qualtrics Survey Component
We've made it easier to link to Qualtrics surveys with this new advanced component. Additional information is available here:
Setting up a Qualtrics Survey
Run Polls and Surveys in Your Course
Create polls in Studio to ask your participants individual questions, or create surveys to ask a series of questions, in an ungraded, anonymous setting. The survey tool doesn't replace Qualtrics, but simply enables you to easily ask ungraded questions in your course. If you'd like to use either feature, contact email@example.com. Information on creating polls and surveys can be found at the following links:
Create Content Libraries as Resource Banks
You can create a question bank or static resource for your content to share or use across different courses. This feature can be used in randomized content blocks in courses created after March 1, 2016. More information on content libraries is available here:
Working with Content Libraries
Create Randomized Content Blocks
These components can be used in courses created after March 1, 2016. Add these to a unit to pull in content created in a content library. One use might be to create randomized quizzes, while another might simply be to simplify the process of recreating questions in multiple or future offerings of the same course. Additional information on setting up a randomized content block is available here:
Creating Randomized Content Blocks
New Built-In Free Text Response Components
To ask participants plain answer questions, you can now add a free text response component to your course. Some options include setting maximum or minimum word count requirements, basing credit on whether specific words or phrases are used, and having the ability to disable correctness indicators. More information and examples can be found in our demo course:
Create a Free Text Response Question
Set Up Submit and Compare Questions
After participants submit a response to a Submit and Compare problem, they are presented with a model response written by the instructor for comparison. This feature can be graded or ungraded and can further be enhanced with hints. More information and examples are available in our demo course here:
Working with Submit and Compare Questions
Multiple Choice Questions Now Support Answer Pools
With answer pools, you can add multiple correct and incorrect options for a question, and then specify how many options to display to your participants. Additional information is available here:
Answer Pools in a Multiple Choice Problem
Multiple Choice Questions Now Support Shuffling Answer Options
Shuffling answer options is another way of inserting variety into your questions. Additional information is available here:
Shuffle Answers in a Multiple Choice Problem
Create Timed Exams in Your Course
You can create timed exams that set an entire subsection to be timed. This differs from an existing timed feature that enables individual problems to be timed. More information on working with timed exams can be found here:
Set a Subsection to be Timed
Give Partial Credit in Problems
Award partial credit by adding this setting to checkbox, multiple choice or numerical input problems. Learn more about how to set up partial credit here:
Awarding Partial Credit for a Problem
Embed Tutorials from Oppia
Enable this feature to offer pre-existing dynamic tutorials (or sign up to create your own) within your course. Additional information on how Oppia works and can be used in your course is available here:
Oppia Exploration Tool
Create Inline Dropdown Problems
It is now possible to create dropdown questions that appear inline with your content. For example, create a passage of text with one or more dropdown questions in the body of text. Display feedback beneath the passage after someone submits their answers. More information and examples can be found in our demo course here:
Inline Dropdown Problems in Studio
Utilize Additional Reporting Features
Among the administrative tools previously available, you can now additionally remove submissions from Peer Assessment problems, see how many people earned a Statement of Accomplishment in your course at the click of a button, see how many people have watched a video, and look up submissions to individual problems in your course. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information on data available in your course.
March 9, 2015
Keyword substitutions in bulk emails, enrollment confirmation emails, course announcements, and HTML components
- User's full name
- Course display name
- Course start date
- Course end date
- Course ID (e.g. StanfordOnline/OpenEdX/Demo from the course URL)
- User's internal anonymous ID (so you can construct a link to your Qualtrics survey and include the user's anonymous user ID in an email or link on your course announcements)
- Completion (adds a visual indicator for users to track their progress through a course)
- Content Experiment (A/B testing)
- Google Docs and Calendar (same functionality available with iframing Google Docs or Calendar, but easier to set up and sized automatically to fit on your course page)
- LTI (leverage external, third party tools)
- Word Cloud
December 10, 2014
Discussion Cohorts are now available!
Course staff can define smaller communities of participants within the larger, course-wide community in your course Discussion. This feature allows course staff to divide participants into cohort groups manually or by automated, random assignments. When the cohorts feature is enabled for a course, most discussion topics are divided so that participants can only read and contribute to posts made by other members of the same cohort. Open, or unified, discussion topics can also be created so that all participants can read and contribute to that topic. When cohorts are enabled, the CSV file that contains participant profile data will also include a Cohort column. Additional information about Discussion Cohorts is available in the Help Documentation.
If you are interested in setting up Discussion cohorts for any of your upcoming courses, please let us know. We would be happy to work with you in setting these up and are interested in getting feedback on the feature.
Inline analytics for questions
The Inline analytics features gives you an easy way to get an answer distribution for a given question in your course. When you view a question in your live course, in addition to the Submission History and Staff Debug Info buttons, you will now see a Staff Analytics Info button. Clicking this will give you an answer distribution for the question:
Reset button available for all problems
Course staff now have the ability to add a Reset button to problems. Participants can click Reset to clear any input that has not yet been submitted, and try again to answer the question. Previously, the only way to enable the Reset button was to set the problem advanced setting "Randomization" to something other than "Never", but randomization complicates analytics reporting, and so randomized questions aren’t yet supported by inline analytics. Please DO NOT set “Randomization” to anything other than “Never" unless you are creating a question that contains variables you want to randomize. Additional information about enabling the Reset button and the Randomization feature are available on this page in the Help Documentation.
New Insights Report
Insights provides data for participant enrollment activity, geographic location, and engagement with course content. You can access your course Insights report from the Instructor page in your live course. Click "visit Stanford Online Insights" in the banner near the top of the page. Examples of the types of reports are included below:
Ability to change Discussion topics and post type
Forum moderators and admins can now change the topic of a Discussion post and can also change the type of a discussion from a question to a post, and vice versa. Participants can also change the topic and type of discussion for their own posts.
September 19, 2014
Publishing course content gets easier
In addition to the recent Studio outline changes that indicate the state of your content (published, unpublished, not released), you can now publish content directly from your Course Outline. You will now see a "Publish" icon at the Section, Subsection, and Unit level for any unpublished content. This allows you to publish all unpublished content in a given section or subsection, or publish specific Units all from the Course Outline.
More Discussion UI enhancements
When course participants create a new Discussion post, they can now indicate the post is a question or a discussion topic. The "Topic" is also much more prominent now in an effort to help users tag posts to the correct topic.
Sent Email History
You can now see a complete history of the emails course staff have sent to course participants on the Instructor -> Email page in your course. The summary shows you the subject line of the email, who sent the email, when it was sent, and how many emails were sent. You can also click the subject of the email to view the text and click a button to copy the text directly to the email editor.
August 29, 2014
Enrollment Confirmation Email
We have added a feature that sends users who enroll in a course an enrollment confirmation email. The feature is available on the Settings -> Schedule & Details page in Studio and must be enabled if you would like to use it for your course. Once enabled, a default message is provided for emails sent before the course starts and for after the course has started, based on the course start date. Both messages can be customized however you like.
Studio Interface changes
The Course Outline in Studio now provides a visual indication of the state of your content. Every section of your Course Outline now displays a vertical color bar on the left side.
Blue indicates all content in the section is published and available in the live course.
Yellow indicates there are unpublished changes, either new content that has not been published or unpublished changes to live content.
Green indicates published content that has not been released via content release date to the live course.
A new assignment type has been enabled that allows users to upload a file to be manually graded by course staff. Course staff can score the individual submissions and include comments back to the user, and the score is reflected in the user's overall score in the course. This feature requires additional course configuration and we are currently working on documentation, so if you are interested in using this for your course, please contact us.
The Peer Assessment feature has been extended to allow users to upload a file. Currently, the file must be an image file, but we are looking into extending this to allow PDFs. We have also added back in the ability for peers to edit each others text submissions with a track changes feature.
Users can now select to display the platform in Spanish from their Dashboard page (http://class.stanford.edu/dashboard) by changing their Preferred Language:
July 22, 2014
A/B split testing supported in Studio
Initial support for adding A/B split testing through Studio is now available, allowing you to show different content to different users in your course. If you are interested in setting up A/B testing in your course, or would like to see a demo of the feature, please contact us.
Real time Chat available for on-campus courses
We can enable real time chat within a course, but this feature is only intended for on-campus use at this time because it lacks the protections you'd need in a larger, public course, like blocking/muting, flood protection, anti-spam features, and bad word filters. There is also some set-up required on the back-end, so if you want to use on-campus chat, or would like to see a demo of the chat feature, please speak with us.
Google Instant Hangout supported
You can now add a Google Instant Hangout to your course. Documentation for setting up Google Instant Hangout in your course is available here:
Bulk Caption utility
We have added the ability to get the status on and update the captions for all of the videos in your course on a single page. Instructions for using the Bulk Caption utility are available here:
Metrics page detailed user reports
The Instructor -> Metrics page in your live course now includes detailed user reports for problem grade distributions and which participants have opened a given subsection. An explanation of the feature is available here:
Video "Table of Contents"
You can now use the video caption feature to include a video "Table of Contents" to help participants navigate to specific sections of your video. Documentation on the feature is available here:
Peer Assessment enhancements
The new Peer Assessment feature includes creating questions that are self assessment only, peer assessment only, or include both. Questions can also include the option to have student training before they assess peer responses and an optional feedback field. The updated Peer Assessment documentation is available here:
LTI documentation is available
LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) allows you to integrate third party web tools into your course which can include graded assignments that are still reflected in your OpenEdX course grading. LTI documentation is available here:
Multiple choice problem enhancements
Changes have been made to multiple choice problems to support shuffling answers, targeted feedback, and answer pools. Updated documentation on multiple choice problems, including how to set up these variations, is available here:
HTML iframe component
A default HTML iframe component type has been added to make it easier to iframe external web content into your course. Documentation on the iframe HTML component is available here:
March 6, 2014
We have updated the OpenEdX platform today with new code and wanted to bring a couple of new features to your attention.
Translated Video Captions now supported
If you have translated captions for your videos, you can now add them to your video component. There are instructions for adding translated caption files here:
Once you have added different translated captions, when you click the "cc" button, you can chose which language to display:
Individual student deadline extensions now supported
Assignment deadlines can now be extended for individual students. From your live course, click the Instructor tab and follow the "Try New Beta Dashboard" link in the upper right corner of the page. On the resulting page, click "Extensions". You can extend the due date for any graded subsection for a given user, using their OpenEdX email address or username. You can also get a list of all extensions for a given graded subsection and also rescind an extension for a user.
Deleting comments on Discussion posts now supported
The course Discussion now allows the deletion of comments on Discussion posts. This means in a long, engaging Discussion thread if someone posts the answer to an assignment in a comment, you can remove that comment without touching the rest of the thread. Students also have the ability to delete their own comments.
Full Screen Image now available
There is a new option in the HTML component to add an image modal that will expand an image within your course to fill the user's browser window. There is a detailed description and instructions for adding a full screen image here: