6.7. Controlling Content Visibility

As a member of the course team, you must carefully control which content is visible to learners and when.

You control content visibility through these features in Studio.

These features work together to control content visibility for learners.

6.7.1. Release Dates

You specify release dates and times for sections and subsections. By defining release dates, you ensure that content is available to learners on a planned schedule, without requiring manual intervention while the course is running.

By default, a subsection inherits the release date and time of the section it is in. You can change the release date of the subsection to another date.

Published units are not visible to learners until the scheduled release date and time. When the section and subsection have different release schedules, published units are not visible until both dates have passed.

Prior to release, content is visible to course team members by previewing the course or viewing the live course as staff.


The release times that you set, and the times that learners see, are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). You might want to verify that you have specified the times that you intend by using a time zone converter such as Time and Date Time Zone Converter

For more information about setting release dates, see the following topics.

6.7.2. Unit Publishing Status

You publish units to make them visible to learners. Learners see the last published version of a unit if the section and subsection it is in are released.

Learners do not see units that have never been published, and they do not see unpublished changes to units or components within units. Therefore, you can make changes to units in released subsections without disrupting the learner experience.

For more information, see Unit Publishing Status.

You can publish all changes in a section or subsection at once, or publish changes to individual units. For more information about publishing units, see the following topics.

6.7.3. Content Hidden from Learners

You can hide content from learners. Such content is never visible to learners, regardless of the release and publishing status.

You might hide a unit from learners, for example, when that unit contains an answer to a problem in another unit of that subsection. After the problem’s due date, you could make the unit with the answer visible.

You could also hide a unit from learners if you wanted to use that unit to provide instructions or guidance meant only for the course team. Only course team members would see that unit in the course.

You can hide content at different levels, as described in the following topics.


When you make a previously hidden section or subsection visible to learners, some content in the section or subsection may remain hidden. If you have explicitly set a subsection or unit to be hidden from learners, this subsection or unit remains hidden even when you change the visibility of the parent section or subsection. Unpublished units remain unpublished, and changes to published units remain unpublished. Hiding Graded Content

If you hide a section, subsection, or unit that contains graded problems, grading is not affected. The hidden problems are still counted when the edX platform calculates grades. If a problem was visible at one time, and learners submitted answers for it, they still receive the credit they earned if you later hide the problem.

6.7.4. Content Groups

If you have cohorts enabled in your course, you can use content groups to designate particular components in your course as visible only to specific groups of learners.

For details, see Content Groups and Creating Cohort-Specific Courseware.