Week of 29 August 2016

The following information summarizes what is new in the edX platform this week.

The edX engineering wiki Release Pages provide detailed information about every change made to the edx-platform GitHub repository. If you are interested in additional information about every change in a release, create a user account for the wiki and review the dated release pages.


Support Levels for Problems and Tools

In Studio, the support level for each exercise, problem type, or tool is now represented with an icon when you select Advanced, HTML, or Problem to add a new component to your course. The edX Support Levels heading next to the legend provides a link to the documentation describing each of the support levels.

In Studio when you select "Advanced", "HTML", or "Problem" under "Add New Component", the support level of each available problem or tool is represented with an icon.

By default, only fully supported or provisionally supported problem types and tools are available for adding to your course. To add unsupported problems and tools, you must set the Add Unsupported Problems and Tools advanced setting to true, after which unsupported problem types and tools are also available in Studio.

The "Add Unsupported Problems and Tools" advanced setting in Studio must be set to true before unsupported problems and tools are available in Studio for adding to a course.

This change improves the authoring experience in Studio by streamlining the set of tools that is available by default. If you do choose to include unsupported problem types and tools in your course, they continue to render in the course as before. In currently running courses, all course content remains unchanged. For more information, see Adding Unsupported Problem Types and Exercises in the Building and Running an edX Course guide.

Word Cloud Improvements

The provisionally supported word cloud tool has been updated with improvements to accessibility. Course teams can now add more detailed instructions to their word cloud exercises using the new Instructions field. EdX encourages course teams who use word clouds in their courses to use both the Display Name and Instructions fields to ensure that each word cloud includes an accessible label for screen reader users. If you do not replace the default text in the Display Name field in the word cloud settings, the display name “Word Cloud” is used. In addition, the text input boxes now each have an associated counter that also includes the total number of inputs, so that screen reader users hear “one of five”, for example, when they submit words to the word cloud.

For details about creating word clouds in your course, see Word Cloud Tool in the Building and Running an edX Course guide, or Word Cloud Tool in the Building and Running an Open edX Course guide.


Course Discussions

This release includes various updates for course discussions.

  • An issue that caused some responses to posts to appear in the wrong discussion threads has been fixed. (TNL-5249)
  • An issue that prevented comments from being added to responses has been fixed. (TNL-5389)
  • To prevent confusion, the Add a Response text box is no longer available during course discussion blackout dates. (TNL-5111)

Accessibility Improvements

Improvements for keyboard and screen reader navigation have been made in the photo verification, account settings, submission history, and staff debug info pages in the LMS. (ECOM-4186, ECOM-4188, ECOM-5184, ECOM-5303)

Fixes were made to improve accessibility in the course discussions Markdown editor and the Preview area. (TNL-5161, TNL-5168)


Individual Learner Data in Insights

Data for individual learners is now available in edX Insights. Activity metrics for the past week, including the number of videos viewed, discussion contributions made, and problems attempted, are now available for every enrolled learner.

The learner roster and key activity report shows how learners are doing in relation to their peers. In the example learner roster and key activity report below, the numbered callouts illustrate the color and font cues that identify a percentile range for each metric.

The learner roster and key activity report shows activity metrics for each enrolled learner for the past week, including the number of videos viewed, discussion contributions made, and problems attempted.
  1. Counts that are underlined and in red are in the 15th percentile or below, and might indicate that a learner is falling behind.
  2. Counts in the 16th-84th percentiles appear in normal black font.
  3. Counts in the 85th percentile or above appear in bold, green font, and might indicate that a learner is doing particularly well.

Select any learner’s username in the learner roster and key activity report to open a chart and review a timeline of that learner’s daily activity throughout the course.

The Learner Activity chart shows a timeline of daily activity for an individual learner throughout the course.

For more information, see Individual Learners in the Using edX Insights guide.

Research Data Exchange Program

The research data exchange (RDX) program provides a way for edX charter member organizations to access data for courses run by other participating organizations. Through this program, obfuscated data is made available to research teams who are conducting approved educational research studies.

For more information about RDX, including how organizations can apply to participate and how researchers can request data for a study, see the Research page on the edX partner portal.

For more information about how to access RDX data packages and how the data is obfuscated, see the Using the Research Data Exchange Data Package section in the EdX Research Guide.

edX Mobile App

Version 2.6 of the edX app for iOS is now available. This version of the mobile app allows learners to browse edX courses without creating an edX account and without logging in. Learners can register for an edX account or sign in from the about page for any course. Other improvements in this version include accessibility fixes to the video player.

You can download the latest version of the free iOS edX mobile app from the iTunes app store.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the mobile app, see the If You Use the edX Mobile App section in the EdX Learner’s Guide, or, for Open edX installations, see the If You Use the edX Mobile App section in the Open edX Learner’s Guide.

Open edX

For sites that are running an Open edX instance, the Eucalyptus release is now available. Eucalyptus, the fifth release of the Open edX platform, contains new features for learners, course teams, and developers. For more information, see the release notes for the Open edX Eucalyptus Release or this Eucalyptus release blog post on the Open edX portal.