Greetings from edX headquarters! March is upon us, and with a new month come a number of changes and new features designed to help you and your learners make the most of the edX platform.

Improvements for Learners

We’ve recently introduced changes to make navigating through a course more intuitive. Instead of seeing Courseware and Course Info pages when they sign into a course, learners now see Home and Course pages. The Home page contains all the content that appeared on the Course Info page, plus important course dates, while the Course page contains all of the sections, subsections, units, and components for the course. The Home page opens when the learner accesses the course and is positioned to the left of the Course page, leading the learner to progress to the Course page after reviewing any new information on the Home page. For more information, see February’s Changes to Main LMS Page Coming Soon announcement.

Improvements for Course Authors

Course teams can now make sure that learners are prepared to progress through course content: The new subsection prerequisite control requires learners to earn a minimum score on exams before they can access the next subsection. For more information, see Configuring Prerequisite Course Subsections in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

Changes for System Administrators

Dogwood is now available! This release of the Open edX platform is chock-full of new features for learners, course teams, and developers—including timed exams, the ability to upload different file types for open response assessments, easier sign-in with third party authentication, and updates to the video player. For more information, see the Open edX Dogwood release notes or the Newest Open edX Release Dogwood Now Available! blog post on the Open edX portal.

As of mid-February, Ruby has been removed from the edx-platform repository. Course discussions continue to use Ruby. For more information, see Open edX in the release notes from the week of 15 February.

Accessibility Improvements

We have made several accessibility changes over the last month. In course discussions, we have added fields so that learners must now enter descriptions for any images or links they upload, providing important information for the visually impaired. In addition, we have updated descriptions for several labels on the Discussion page and improved some of the tool tip messages for problems.

Coming Soon

The edX accessibility team is working on phase 2 of an effort to promote the use of logical, hierarchical heading levels in course content. Phase 1 removed heading levels 1 and 2 from HTML and problem components: because all pages on the edX platform include content with heading levels 1 and 2 by default, creating additional content with these heading levels can cause problems including interference with accessibility software. For more information about heading levels in HTML components, see The Visual Editor in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

In phase 2, new forward- and backward-compatible heading styles will allow course teams to create the look and feel of the former level 1 and 2 headings using new logical heading levels 3 through 6. These headings will be larger, and will no longer be rendered using only uppercase letters.