8. Open edX Cypress Release

This page lists the highlights of the Cypress release.

Note

With the Open edX Dogwood Release, the Cypress release is no longer supported. This page remains in these release notes as a record of when new features were included in Open edX.

8.1. New Features

The following new features are included in the Open edX Cypress release.

8.1.1. Badges

Badges provide a way for learners to share their course achievements. For courses that have badges enabled, learners receive a badge when they receive a course certificate, and have the option of sharing their badges to a badging site such as Mozilla Backpack.

Open edX supports Open Badges, an open standard originally developed by the Mozilla Foundation. For more information about Open Badges, see http://openbadges.org/.

For more information, see the following documentation.

8.1.2. Cohorts

Course teams now create and manage cohorts on the Instructor Dashboard in the LMS, instead of on the Advanced Settings page in Studio. Course teams can use the new Cohorts page there to add and rename cohorts, change a cohort’s assignment method, associate cohorts with content groups, and specify whether course-wide and content-specific discussions are divided by cohort.

For more information, see Including Learner Cohorts in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.3. Course Certificates

You can now create one certificate configuration per course. This configuration serves as the template for certificates issued for all of the enrollment tracks available for your course (such as “honor code” or “verified”). Honor code certificates use the organization logo and signatory information, but do not include signature images, which are used only for verified certificates.

For more information, see Setting Up Course Certificates in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.5. Creative Commons

Course teams can now specify either “All Rights Reserved” or a Creative Commons license for a course. Course teams can also select different license options for each video.

For more information, see the following documentation.

8.1.6. Custom Courses

Course teams can create a custom course experience (CCX) to reuse course content. By using a CCX, course teams can run some or all of an existing course for a group of students on a new schedule.

For information about enabling CCX in your instance, see Enabling Custom Courses in Installing, Configuring, and Running the Open edX Platform.

For information about using CCX, see Creating a Custom Course in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.7. Grade Report Enhancements

The grade report now includes new columns with certificate status and enrollment track information. When course teams generate the grade report from the Instructor Dashboard, they can see the following additional information for each learner.

  • Enrollment track, to identify the learner’s enrollment mode as honor, verified, or professional education.
  • Verification status, to identify learners in the verified or professional track who have completed identity verification with edX.
  • Certificate eligibility status, to identify learners who have earned the passing grade in the course at the time of the grade report generation.
  • Certificate delivery status, to identify learners who have received their certificates.
  • The type of certificate, for learners who are eligible to receive a certificate.

For more information, see Interpret the Grade Report in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.8. Feedback and Hints in Common Problems

Course teams can now add feedback, hints, or both to the following problem types.

  • Checkbox
  • Dropdown
  • Multiple choice
  • Numerical input
  • Text input

In Studio, course teams can use new templates to add sample problems that use the feedback and hint syntax.

For more information, see Adding Feedback and Hints to a Problem in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.9. HTML Spell Check in Studio

When you edit an HTML component in Studio, an automated spell checker indicates any misspelled words. The spell checker automatically uses the dictionary that is set for your browser.

8.1.10. Learner Profiles

With the new Open edX Learner Profile feature, course teams and learners can share information about themselves with the community. The profile can include an image that identifies the user on the Open edX site as well as the user’s location and other biographical information. Course teams and other learners in the course can view others’ profiles.

For more information, see Exploring the Profile Page in Building and Running an Open edX Course and Exploring the Profile Page for Learners in the Open edX Learner’s Guide.

8.1.11. LTI Provider

New options that leverage learning tools interoperability (LTI) are available in this release.

Previously, course teams could use Studio as a tool consumer: course teams could set up an LTI component to embed external tools, such as learning applications and textbooks, into an edX course.

Now, course teams can identify content from their edX courses to embed with other content on their campus systems. Teams can specify the course units, videos, and graded and ungraded problems that already exist in an edX course for launch within a campus LMS such as Blackboard or Canvas. Student scores for graded content are transferred to the campus system.

Authentication between the campus system and the edX system that provides the content can be configured either to anonymously provision students or to prompt for account creation.

8.1.12. New Studio Templates

This release includes new templates for HTML and problem components. These templates provide updated guidelines and examples, accessibility information, and links to documentation.

8.1.13. Original Open Response Assessment Problems Deprecated

When you access a course that contains an open response assessment created using the original version of this assignment type (ORA 1), Studio now displays the message, “This course uses features that are no longer supported.”

A newer version of the open response assessments feature (ORA 2) was released over a year ago, and the ability to add ORA 1 problems was removed from Studio in May 2014.

For information about adding ORA 2 problems to a course, see Open Response Assessments.

8.1.14. Poll and Survey Tools

Course teams can now include two new types of components in courses.

  • Use the Poll tool to pose a question to learners and have them select an answer from a set list.

    For more information, see Poll Tool in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

  • Use the Survey tool to pose multiple questions to learners and have them select an answer for each question from a set list.

    For more information, see Survey Tool in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

When polls and surveys are included in a course, course teams can analyze the responses and also choose whether to let learners see the aggregate answers for the class.

8.1.15. Problem Appearance Changes

To make the Open edX LMS easier to use on mobile devices, the appearance of common problem types has changed. For example, a border surrounds options for multiple choice and checkbox problems, and the entire area within the border is selectable, making it easier for learners to select an option.

8.1.16. Problem Grade Report

For any course, course teams can now calculate grades for problems and generate a report that can be downloaded from the Instructor Dashboard. This new report includes, for each graded problem, a learner’s earned and possible points, and her total score, expressed as a decimal.

For more information, see Generate a Problem Grade Report for Enrolled Students in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.17. Randomized Content Blocks

Course teams can now include a new type of component, a randomized content block, in their courses. These components randomly draw problems from a predefined library of components and present them to learners.

Course teams create and maintain libraries of components separately from courses. All of an organization’s course teams can work collaboratively to develop the problems that the libraries contain. Each library can then be referenced by randomized content blocks in any of that organization’s courses.

For more information, see Working with Libraries in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.18. Report of Not-Yet Enrolled Students

Course teams for invitation-only courses can now track enrollment status from the Instructor Dashboard. The Data Download page of the Instructor Dashboard now includes a downloadable report of learners who have been invited to enroll in a course, but who have not yet done so.

For more information, see the Enrollment section in Building and Running an Open edX Course.

8.1.19. Third Party Authentication

To enhance sign in options for your users, you can enable third party authentication between institutional authentication systems and your implementation of Open edX. After you enable third party authentication and integrate with SAML or OAuth2 identity providers, users can register and sign in to your Open edX site with their campus or institutional credentials.

For more information, see Enabling Third Party Authentication in Installing, Configuring, and Running the Open edX Platform.

8.1.20. Uploading ORA2 Files to Alternative Storage Systems

By default, the Open Response Assessment (ORA2) application stores files that learners upload in an Amazon S3 bucket.

With the Cypress release, you can configure ORA2 to store files in an alternate system. To have learners’ files stored in a system other than Amazon S3, you must complete the following steps.

  1. Implement the BaseBackend class defined in the base.py file.

    For example, the S3.py file in the same directory is an implementation of BaseBackend for Amazon S3. You must implement the equivalent class for the storage system you intend to use.

  2. Configure ORA2 to use your alternative storage system by modifying the value of backend_setting in init file to point to your implementation of BaseBackend.

  3. Add code to instantiate the new implementation to the get_backend()` function in the init.py file.

  4. Configure ORA2 to use the alternative storage system by modifying the value of ORA2_FILEUPLOAD_BACKEND in the Django settings to point to your implementation of BaseBackend.

8.1.21. YouTube API 3.0 API Key

The Open edX Platform uses Version 3 of the YouTube API, which requires that the application use an API key.

If you intend for courses on your Open edX instance to include videos that are hosted on YouTube, you must get a YouTube API key and set the key in the Open edX Platform.

For more information, see Set YouTube API Key in Installing, Configuring, and Running the Open edX Platform.

8.2. REST API Changes

EdX has built and published documentation for the following REST APIs, which are available in the Open edX Cypress release.

8.3. New Events

The following list includes new or changed events in the Open edX Cypress release.

  • The context field for server events now provides a usage_key to identify XBlock content. The usage_key member field was added to the module dictionary, which also provides the component display_name.
  • Events now include data from two HTTP header fields, referer and accept_language.
  • There are new events that record new posts, responses, and comments in course discussions.
  • There are new events that record which of the problems in a library were delivered by a randomized content block component.
  • Two instructor events have been added for generating and downloading reports from the Instructor Dashboard.
    • edx.instructor.report.downloaded
    • edx.instructor.report.requested
  • The following events are now emitted when learners interact with polls and surveys.
    • xblock.poll.submitted
    • xblock.poll.view_results
    • xblock.survey.submitted
    • xblock.survey.view_results

For more information about events, see Events in Tracking Logs in the edX Research Guide. Note that this document is intended for edX partners running courses on edx.org. However, the event listing applies to Open edX instances as well.

8.4. Accessibility Updates

In keeping with edX’s commitment to creating accessible content for everyone, everywhere, the Open edX Cypress release contains several accessibility enhancements in the Open edX LMS and discussions.

  • Keyboard navigation in open response assessments has been improved by restoring keyboard focus outline indicators.
  • The LMS now has a region with a role of main and a descriptive aria-label allowing users to quickly navigate to the main content area using landmarks.
  • Several accessibility problems with numerical input problem types are now corrected.
  • A current status of the problem is now conveyed to learners who use screen readers properly.
  • The workflow for checking how ASCII math is converted to MathML or MathJax format has been streamlined for screen reader users.
  • Nonessential information is no longer included in aria-live regions, which improves the experience for screen reader users.
  • Improvements to the accessibility of discussion posts for screen reader users are included in this release.
  • HTML iframe elements now show meaningful title attributes that describe the content embedded in the IFrame.
  • The main blue colors used throughout the LMS user interface were changed to meet WCAG AA guidelines for contrast.
  • The LMS now includes an aria-live region to contain HTML for problems.
  • Submission buttons have been removed from the aria-live div scope.
  • Several accessibility fixes have been implemented in the course header.
  • An aria label has been added to the LMS footer.
  • The main region in the Student dashboard now includes the role and aria- label attributes.
  • Navigation controls in the LMS now have aria-label attributes.
  • Focus now changes directly to the content area after the user selects a link to a new subsection or unit.
  • Unit navigation links are reorganized into a single list. The arrow navigation is converted from links to buttons and now includes the disabled attribute when appropriate.
  • Labels to bypass blocks now use the industry standard text Skip to main content.
  • The current discussion conversation now receives focus and includes an accessible label.
  • Discussions now include defined regions and landmarks for screen reader navigation. The focus is on the discussion when a new topic is loaded, and changes to a new post when it appears.

8.5. Supported Browser Changes

Note that in this release the edX platform no longer supports Internet Explorer 9.x.

8.6. More Information on Cypress Release Changes

The edX Release Notes contain a list of weekly changes that are deployed to edx.org. Those changes are part of the master branch of the edX Platform in GitHub.

You can also find release announcements on open.edx.org, which list changes in each release on edx.org. You can subscribe to have release announcements sent to your email account.

Changes listed on 8 July 2015 and before are included in the Cypress release of Open edX.