Hello once again from edX headquarters in Cambridge! It’s back-to-school time in many parts of the world, and we’ve been working on lots of improvements for all the new learners who will be taking your courses this academic year.

Improvements for Learners

A graph showing significantly faster Progress page loading times after changes were released.

First up: Most of your learners are eager to see their progress, and we’ve recently made changes that significantly reduce Progress page loading times. The graph to the right shows loading times before and after we implemented these changes.

We’ve released version 2.6 of the edX iOS and Android mobile apps! In this version, learners can browse edX courses without creating an account or signing in. We’ve also made accessibility improvements to the video player and added learner profile pictures to discussion posts. For more information about the mobile apps, see If You Use the edX Mobile App in the Open edX Learner’s Guide

Speaking of discussions, we’ve updated the Discussions page to help learners find content they’re interested in—learners can take advantage of a new header area, a more intuitive topic list, and an enhanced UI that indicates unread posts, comments, and responses. We’ve also fixed a few issues with discussions. For more information about the changes to discussions, see Coming Soon: Navigation Changes to Discussion Forum

Improvements for Course Authors

A table of individual learners showing the number of problems tried and other information.

We’re excited to announce that Insights now offers per-learner data! Course teams can now easily keep an eye on learner activities during the course, including discussion contributions or problems attempted, without waiting for a report from the research team. Per-learner data also includes visualizations that show how often a learner is engaging with your course. For more information, see Learner Activity and Enrollment Activity in Using edX Insights.

We’ve updated several of our problem types and tools to enhance the learner experience. For the drag and drop problem type, changes include the ability to prevent learners from receiving feedback until they’ve dropped all draggable items. For more information, see Drag and Drop Problem in Building and Running an Open edX Course. Improvements to the word cloud tool include a new Instructions field and accessibility updates. For more information, see Word Cloud Tool in Building and Running an Open edX Course

We’ve also made a few fixes to make creating and running courses easier for you. All course updates now appear in reverse chronological order—even if you add more than one update on the same day. We’ve changed the Staff Debug Info option so that it now appears only next to assessment types that allow you to perform actions such as rescore the problem. Additionally, for your non-English videos, the video transcript list now includes an English option if the video has an English transcript.

Improvements for Researchers

In addition to making per-learner data easily available, we’ve updated a few existing Insights features: the Daily Student Enrollment chart and the Enrollment Over Time report now show audit track and honor track enrollments separately. Additionally, dates across Insights are now in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)—no more confusion between dates for tooltips, charts, tables, and .csv downloads!

Improvements for System Administrators and Developers

Our Open edX announcements this month include a major release, as well as other updates.

Eucalyptus Release

Eucalyptus is now available! This release contains over a dozen new features and improvements, including version 2 of the drag and drop problem type, bookmarks, the CourseTalk widget, and closed captions for the video player. Eucalyptus supports version 2.5.1 of the Android app and version 2.5.3 of the iOS app, and also includes multiple system upgrades and updates. Check out the full list of new and deprecated features, as well as other changes, in the Open edX Eucalyptus release notes, or take a look at our related blog post, Eucalyptus: A New Release to Chew On.

Other Updates

For the latest version of Open edX on master, we’ve updated the UX Pattern Library and added a new –settings parameter for the i18n_dummy task, so that you can now use this task on fullstack instances. To our coupon feature, we’ve added the ability to restrict coupons to specific email domains and improved the accuracy of the dynamic coupon preview functionality. 

Coming Soon

An open progress page with callout for the Help button, and a page from the learner's guide.

We have some fantastic news for learners: Soon, the Help button that is visible on every LMS page will link to a related page or to the table of contents in the EdX Learner’s Guide. We hope these changes enable learners to find the information they need  quickly and easily.

As part of our continuing commitment to educate learners of all kinds, we’re making major accessibility improvements to our CAPA problems in the very near future. These changes will significantly enhance the experience of learners who use screen readers and keyboards to access edX and Open edX content. For more information, see Upcoming Markdown and OLX Changes for CAPA Problems.