6.5. Developing Course Units

To work with units in the course outline and develop your course, you need to understand the following concepts and complete the following tasks.

You add content to units with course components.

6.5.1. What is a Unit?

A unit is a part of a subsection that learners view as a single page.

A unit contains one or more components, such as HTML content, problems, discussions, and videos.

6.5.2. Viewing Units in the Outline

To view units in the outline, you expand the parent section and subsection.

An outline with callouts for sections, subsections, and units.

6.5.3. Viewing the Unit Page

When you select a unit name in the outline, the Unit page opens.

The following example shows a unit page with two components, with circles and text to show different areas and controls in the page.

The Unit page.

6.5.4. Viewing Units as a Learner

To a learner using the edX Learning Management System, each unit in the subsection appears as a link in the learning sequence at the top of the Courseware page. The contents of the active unit appear below the learning sequence.

The following image shows a subsection that has five units, which are circled in the learning sequence above the video, with the first unit open.

Image of units from the learner's point of view.

6.5.5. The Unit Workflow

When you have set up the section and subsection in the course outline, you then work with units.

The typical workflow includes these steps.

  1. Create a new unit.
  2. Add components to the unit.
  3. Publish the unit.

After you publish the unit, you can complete these steps.

  1. Modify components in the unit.
  2. Publish the changes to the unit.

The following diagram shows the typical unit development workflow.

Diagram of the unit development workflow.

As you work through these steps, the publishing status of the unit changes. The publishing status controls the content available to learners, along with release dates. See the next section for more information.

6.5.6. Unit Publishing Status and Visibility to Learners

The following information summarizes whether or not learners can see a unit.

For more information, see Controlling Content Visibility.

6.5.7. Unit Publishing Status

As a course author, you work with units with the following statuses.

6.5.7.1. Draft (Never published)

When you create a new unit and add components to it, the unit’s publishing status is Draft (Never Published), as shown in the status panel.

Status panel of a unit that has never been published.

In Studio, you see the version of the content that you’re working on. Learners never see a unit with this status, even if the release date has passed.

Though you do not see the unit in the LMS, you can preview the unit.

You must publish the unit for it to be included in the LMS.

6.5.7.2. Published and Live

The release date for the section and subsection have passed. You’ve published the unit and haven’t made any changes to it. You and learners both see the current version of the unit.

Status panel of a unit that is published.

6.5.7.3. Published (not yet released)

You published the unit, but the release date is still in the future. Learners cannot see this unit until the release date passes.

Status panel of a unit that is published but not released.

6.5.7.4. Draft (Unpublished changes)

When you edit a published unit, whether or not it is released, the unit’s publishing status changes to Draft (Unpublished Changes), as shown in the status panel.

Status panel of a unit that has pending changes.

In Studio, you see the draft of the content that you’re working on. If the release date has passed, learners see the last published version of the unit. If the release date hasn’t passed, learners cannot see your content.

You must publish the unit for learners to see your changes.

You can preview the changes to a unit to test how your changes will appear to learners after you publish the unit.

6.5.7.5. Visible to Staff Only

When you hide a unit from learners, the unit’s publishing status changes to Visible to Staff Only.

The publishing status of a unit can be Visible to Staff Only if you hid the parent section or subsection from learners.

Learners never see a unit with this status, even if it has been published and the release date has passed.

Status panel of a unit that has pending changes.

6.5.8. Create a Unit

You can create a unit from the outline or create a unit in the same subsection from the unit page.

To create a unit from the outline, follow these steps.

  1. In the outline, expand the subsection in which you want to create a new unit.
  2. Select New Unit at the bottom of the expanded subsection. A new page opens for you to add components to the unit.
  3. On the unit page, the unit name is selected. Supply an identifying name. A descriptive name can help learners locate content in the courseware. It can also help you select content when you analyze performance in edX Insights.
  4. Add components to the new unit as needed.

To create a new unit from a unit page, follow these steps.

  1. In the Unit Location panel, select New Unit.

    The Unit Location panel in the Unit page.

    The unit page for the new unit opens automatically.

  2. On the unit page, the unit name is selected. Supply an identifying name. A descriptive name can help learners locate content in the courseware. It can also help you select content when you analyze performance in edX Insights.

  3. Add components to the new unit as needed.

You must then publish the unit to make it visible to learners.

6.5.9. Edit a Unit

You can edit a unit in the following ways.

When you make any of these changes, if you previously published the unit, the state changes to Draft (Unpublished Changes). You must then publish the unit to make your edits visible to learners.

6.5.9.1. Edit the Unit Name

To edit a unit name, select the Edit icon next to the name.

The Edit Unit Name icon.

The name field becomes editable. Enter the new name, and then tab or click outside of the field to save the name.

6.5.9.2. Reorganize Components in Units

You can reorganize components within a unit by dragging and dropping them to new locations.

To move a component, hover over the handle on the right of the component’s box until the cursor changes to a four-headed arrow. For example, in the image below, the handle for the discussion component is selected.

A discussion component selected to drag it.

Then, click and drag the component to the location that you want.

A dashed outline indicates where the component will land when you release the mouse button. For example, in the image below, the discussion component is being moved to the top of the unit.

A component being dragged to a new location.

6.5.10. Preview a Unit

You preview a unit to review and test the content before it is visible to learners.

You can preview a unit before it is published and before the course is live. In a live course, after the unit is published and if there are no pending changes, previewing a unit is exactly the same as viewing the live version of the unit.

To preview the unit, in the unit page, select Preview.

A course unit page, with the Preview button circled.

The unit opens in preview mode.

The unit in preview mode in the LMS.

When you are revising a previously published unit, it is helpful to preview your changes in one window and view the published unit in a second window.

For more information about previewing courseware, see Preview Course Content.

6.5.11. Publish a Unit

Publishing a unit makes the current version of the unit in Studio available to learners, if the release date for the section and subsection have passed.

You publish a unit that has a status of Draft (Never Published) or Draft (Unpublished Changes). When you publish a unit, the status changes to Published and Live or Published Not Yet Released.

You can publish a unit from the unit page or the course outline.

6.5.11.1. Use the Unit Page to Publish a Unit

To publish the unit, select Publish in the status panel.

Unit status panel with Publish button circled.

6.5.11.2. Use the Outline to Publish a Unit

To publish a unit from the outline, select the Publish icon in the box for the unit.

Publishing icon for a unit.

Note

The Publish icon only appears when there is new or changed content in the unit.

6.5.12. Discard Changes to a Unit

When you modify a published unit, your changes are saved in Studio, though the changes are not visible to learners until you publish the unit again.

In certain situations, you may decide that you never want to publish your changes. You can discard the changes so that Studio reverts to the last published version of the unit.

To discard changes and revert the Studio version of the unit to the last published version, select Discard Changes in the status panel.

Unit status panel with Discard Changes circled.

Caution

When you discard changes to a unit, the changes are permanently deleted. You cannot retrieve discarded changes or undo the action.

6.5.13. View a Published Unit

To view the last published version of a unit in the LMS, select View Live Version.

Unit page with View Live Version button circled.

The unit page opens in the LMS in Staff view. You might be prompted to log in to the LMS.

If the unit status is Draft (Unpublished Changes), you do not see your changes in the LMS until you publish the unit again.

If the unit status is Draft (Never Published), View Live Version is not enabled.

6.5.14. Hide a Unit from Learners

You can prevent learners from seeing a unit regardless of the unit status or the release schedules of the section and subsection.

For more information, see Content Hidden from Learners.

You can hide a unit from learners using the course outline or the unit page.

6.5.14.1. Use the Unit Page to Hide a Unit

Select the Hide from students check box in the status panel.

Unit status panel with Hide from Students checked.

For more information, see Controlling Content Visibility.

6.5.14.2. Use the Outline to Hide a Unit

  1. Select the Configure icon in the unit box.

    The unit settings icon circled.

    The Settings dialog box opens.

  2. Check Hide from students.

    The unit hide from students setting.
  3. Select Save.

6.5.14.3. Make a Hidden Unit Visible to Learners

Before you make a hidden unit visible to learners, be aware that course content will immediately be visible to learners, as follows.

  • For a hidden unit that previously was published, clearing the check box publishes the current content for the unit. If you made changes to the unit while is was hidden, those draft changes are published.
  • When you make a section or subsection that was previously hidden visible to learners, draft content in units is not published. Changes you made since last publishing units are not made visible to learners.

You can make a hidden unit visible to learners from the unit page or the course outline. Follow the instructions above and clear the Hide from students check box.

You are prompted to confirm that you want to make the unit visible to learners.

6.5.15. Delete a Unit

You delete a unit from the course outline.

When you delete a unit, you delete all components within the unit.

Warning

You cannot restore course content after you delete it. To ensure you do not delete content you may need later, you can move any unused content to a section in you

To delete a unit, follow these steps.

  1. Select the Delete icon in the box for the unit you want to delete.
The section with Delete icon circled.
  1. When you receive the confirmation prompt, select Yes, delete this unit.