Salutations from summery Cambridge! July is here, and with it are some new features for you and your learners to enjoy.

Improvements for Learners

We want all of our learners to get the most out of their online learning experience! At the beginning of our learner’s guide, we’ve added a Learning in a MOOC topic to help our learners know what to expect from an online learning environment and to answer some of the questions we hear most often. This new “Learning in a MOOC” topic contains a link to the edX demo course so learners can complete exercises in a practice course, setting them up for success in your course.

The Account Settings page with the Order History tab open and called out.Learners who have completed an order on your instance of the Open edX platform now have easy access to information about their payments: We’ve added an Order History tab to the Account Settings page that shows basic information and includes a link to a receipt page for each transaction. For more information, see View Your Order History

Improvements for Course Authors

Communicating with your learners is important, and we’ve recently made changes to the bulk email feature to help you make sure your messages go exactly where you want them. You can now select more than one group when you send an email message to the Myself, Staff and Administrators, or All Learners recipient groups. Additionally, if you use the cohort feature, you can send a message to one or more individual cohorts. When you send an email message to groups, duplicate recipients are filtered out—so you don’t have to worry about accidentally flooding someone’s inbox. For more information, see Message Addressing in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

We want you to have accurate data about the way learners are using your course. To that end, we’ve added five events to our data packages that capture the way learners navigate through the course, including the edx.ui.lms.sequence.next_selected and edx.ui.lms.link_clicked events. For more information, see Course Navigation Events.

And: Are you hungry for even more learner data? Soon, in addition to accessing data about all the learners in your course as a whole, you’ll be able to access data about individual learner activities. This data is updated daily and shows a learner’s progress over time, allowing you to offer additional help to struggling learners or to recognize learners who are doing well. The data will include information about videos watched, the number of times a learner attempted to answer a problem, and contributions the learner has made to course discussions.

Accessibility Improvements

Our accessibility team has been working hard behind the scenes this month, improving HTML in the platform so that learners with visual impairments and other disabilities can clearly understand what each element on a web page is, what it does, and how to use it. The team has also improved the platform so that learners who use a keyboard instead of a mouse to move through web pages can find their way more easily. 

Improvements for System Administrators and Developers

Open edX Con 2016 just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, and we hope everyone who came enjoyed it as much as we did! Over 230 people (from 27 countries!) participated in over a dozen sessions, tutorials, and workshops covering everything from “getting Open edX to play nicely with others” to building LTI applications. The two-day post-con hackathon generated several new projects that we hope to incorporate into the platform. Thanks again for coming!

To help with user interface development, we’ve updated to version 2.2.0 of the jQuery JavaScript library. This update also includes the jQuery Migrate library to support legacy API calls.

For those who are using e-commerce features in their Open edX instances, we’ve just added the ability to create coupons so that you can give learners discounts on their course enrollments. Coupons can apply to one course or many courses, and you can specify them for use by just one customer or multiple customers. For more information, see Create and Manage Coupons in Installing, Configuring, and Running the Open edX Platform.

Coming Soon

Learner account page with call-out for Time Zone setting, with an inset of the LMS showing the changed time zone.Currently, all dates and times in the edX platform use universal coordinated time (UTC)—which can sometimes lead to confusion over deadlines and due dates. We’re happy to announce that the LMS will soon feature a Time Zone setting that automatically converts course due dates and times to the time zone that learners select. No more manually calculating what time that assignment is due in your time zone! For more information, see Learner Experience Improvement: Time Zone Conversion.

Finally, we’re happy to announce that Eucalyptus is coming soon! We expect to release this newest version of the Open edX platform in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more information!