We will soon be releasing the latest version of Open edX, Hawthorn! This is our eighth Open edX release, and we’re excited to share it with our community.


The Hawthorn release includes a number of enhancements to the Learner profiles, the ORA component, the Files & Uploads page in Studio and many others. In addition, given many changes to privacy laws around the world (for example, the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)), this release also includes privacy-related updates such as a user retirement feature that removes data in response to user requests for deletion . Further highlights are below:


LMS and Learner features


  • We’ve enhanced the learner profiles so that they now include the date a learner joined the platform and any course credentials they have received. This links to social media accounts and helps learners share information with one another.
  • Learners now have the ability to purchase all the courses in a program in just one transaction. This avoids the hassle of having to enter payment information multiple times.
  • New discussion notifications now send an email message the first time a learner’s post receives a comment. The message contains the comment and a link back to the course discussions for easy access.
  • Inline discussions are expanded by default. This change has led to a threefold increase in discussion participation.


Studio and Course Author Tools


  • Course teams now have the ability to override learner scores for individual problems. This can be done through a setting on both the instructor dashboard and the Staff Debug viewer.
  • Course Reviews can now be viewed and added by learners from within the course experience. Open edX system administrators can configure a reviews provider such as CourseTalk to allows learners to leave reviews for a particular course.
  • Proctored exams have been improved, enabling course teams to add specific exam instructions in the Studio proctored exam settings.
  • The Files & Uploads page has been updated to significantly simplify the experience of adding all types of files to a course. This includes the ability to search and a Hide File Preview option.
  • The ORA problem editor has now been improved. A new interface offers the same formatting options for the prompt that are available for HTML components. You no longer have to create a separate HTML component above the ORA assignment.
  • Weekly course highlight messages can now be sent to encourage learners to remain engaged with self-paced courses. Specify a few highlights for each course section, and the platform sends out a weekly email message that lists these highlights. Courses on edx.org that enabled weekly highlights had higher verification rates than ones without.
  • The HTML components have been updated to give you even more easy formatting options such as aligning your text the way you want: aligned to the left or right, centered, or fully justified. Images to HTML components can be added right inside the HTML component itself, without having to upload files beforehand.
  • The Video Uploads page is enabled by default, course teams who partner with 3Play Media and cielo24, transcripts—including translations of transcripts—are added to Studio automatically.


Insights and Analytics


  • Learner grades are now included in weekly data packages. In addition, the “Passing Learners” column has been added to the table on the Courses page in Insights so you can easily see how many learners are currently earning passing grades in your course.
  • We have overhauled the EdX Research Guide, improving the organization and updating the topics.


Deployment Notes


Hawthorn installation follows the same steps as previous releases. Start here to learn about the possibilities: Installation Options.


To upgrade from Ginkgo, please install a new Hawthorn machine and then move and migrate your data from the Ginkgo machine to Hawthorn.


Detailed Release Notes


More detailed release notes, including more technical details, can be found on the Hawthorn release notes page on docs.edx.org/#hawthorn.


Getting Started


To get started with Hawthorn, please take a look at our Open edX installation options and as always, feel free to reach out to us and the community if you have any questions.


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