3. Open edX Hawthorn Release

This page lists the highlights of the Hawthorn release of the Open edX platform.

The edX Release Notes contain a summary of 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 the open.edx.org website.

Changes listed for July 6, 2018 and before are included in the Hawthorn release of Open edX. Changes after that point will be in future Open edX releases.

3.1. New and Improved Features

The Open edX Hawthorn release includes the following updates.

3.1.1. LMS and Learner Features

  • We’ve enhanced the learner profiles so that they now include the date a learner joined the platform and any course credentials they have received. Learner profiles link to social media accounts and help learners share information with one another.
  • Learners now have the ability to purchase all the courses in a program in just one transaction. This avoids the hassle of having to enter payment information multiple times.
  • New discussion notifications now send an email message the first time a learner’s post receives a comment. The message contains the comment and a link back to the course discussions for easy access. Inline discussions are expanded by default. This change has led to a threefold increase in discussion participation on edx.org.​

3.1.2. Studio and Course Author Tools

  • Course teams now have the ability to override learner scores for individual problems. This can be done through a setting on both the instructor dashboard and the Staff Debug viewer.
  • Course Reviews can now be viewed and added by learners from within the course experience. Open edX system administrators can configure a reviews provider, such as CourseTalk, to allows learners to leave reviews for a particular course.
  • Proctored exams have been improved, enabling course teams to add specific exam instructions in the Studio proctored exam settings.
  • The Files & Uploads page has been updated to significantly simplify the experience of adding all types of files to a course. This includes the ability to search and a Hide File Preview option.
  • The ORA problem editor has been improved. A new interface offers the same formatting options for the prompt that are available for HTML components. You no longer have to create a separate HTML component above the ORA assignment.
  • Weekly course highlight messages can now be sent to encourage learners to remain engaged with self-paced courses. Specify a few highlights for each course section, and the platform sends out a weekly email message that lists these highlights. Courses on edx.org that enabled weekly highlights had higher verification rates than ones without.
  • The HTML components have been updated to give you even more easy formatting options such as aligning your text the way you want: aligned to the left or right, centered, or fully justified. Images in HTML components can be added right inside the HTML component itself, without having to upload files beforehand.
  • The Video Uploads page is enabled by default. For course teams who partner with 3Play Media and cielo24, transcripts (including translations of transcripts) are added to Studio automatically.​
  • You can establish a password policy to require a minimum strength and complexity for passwords. For more information, see Password Policy

3.1.2.1. Changes to OLX <transcript> Element for Videos

The primary storage for video transcripts on edx.org is now Amazon S3. In connection with this change, we have made changes to the <transcript> element for videos in OLX, which is the XML-based standard for course export and import on edX. The <transcript> element, which was formerly a child of the <video> element, is now a child of a <transcripts> element, which is in turn a child of the <video_asset> element. Here is an example of an OLX <video> element, showing the way transcripts are now handled.

<video sub="" display_name="Test Video" edx_video_id="9c563e7d-c86c"
       youtube_id_1_0="FEWSxCV">
    <video_asset client_video_id="test.mp4" duration="319.94" image="">
        <encoded_video bitrate="174" file_size="69880" profile="mobile_low"
                       url="https://abc.cloudfront.net/ABC_MB2.mp4"/>
        <encoded_video bitrate="192" file_size="76816" profile="audio_mp3"
                       url="https://def.cloudfront.net/ABC_MB1.mp3"/>
        <encoded_video bitrate="279" file_size="112012" profile="desktop_mp4"
                       url="https://ghi.cloudfront.net/ABC_MB4.mp4"/>
        <encoded_video bitrate="0" file_size="0" profile="youtube" url="FEWSxCV"/>
        <transcripts>
             <transcript file_format="srt" language_code="en" provider="Custom"/>
             <transcript file_format="srt" language_code="de" provider="Custom"/>
       </transcripts>
    </video_asset>
</video>

Transcript content files are stored in the course’s /static directory, using the file name format [edx_video_id]-[language_code].srt. For example, in the preceding example, there should be a transcript file with the name 9c563e7d-c86c-en.srt in the /static directory.

3.2. System Upgrades and Updates

The Hawthorn release makes version updates to a number of system components.

System Upgraded Version
edxapp Django 1.11.x
Mongo Mongo 3.2
Search ElasticSearch 1.5
Node Node 8
xblock-lti-consumer 1.1.5
Queueing Redis replaces Rabbit

3.3. Deprecated Features

Several features are deprecated or deleted in the Open edX Hawthorn release.

  • The waffle flag unified_course_view, which can be used for the new view of the course outline on a separate page, was deprecated in Ginkgo. The old sidebar navigation and this waffle flag will be fully removed in the next release. We recommend switching this flag to True, so that you will not experience any change with the next release.
  • django-simple-history has been deprecated and removed.
  • The LogoutViewConfiguration model has been removed. Single logout is now permanently enabled. This meants that logging out of the LMS or an IDA logs you out of all systems.