Open edX Hawthorn’s New Features

The edX organization will release this week the final version of its Open edX platform, Hawthorn, after the final tests have been successfully completed. “Testing went very smoothly, and your feedback was invaluable,” said Ned Batchelder, edX architect.

Hawthorn release notes have already been posted, along with an article describing the main features.

Currently, the version available to download is the release candidate 3, open-release/hawthorn.1rc3.

Hawthorn, Open edX’s eighth release, includes enhancements to the learner profiles, ORA component, files & uploads page, and a user deletion feature, following the new GDPR European data privacy law.

LMS and Learner new features

  • Learner profile now includes the date the user joined the platform, as well as course credentials they have received. This links to social media accounts, helping 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.

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 now been improved. A new interface offers the same formatting options for the prompt that is 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 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 to 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, course teams who partner with 3Play Media and cielo24, transcripts—including translations of transcripts—are added to Studio automatically.