Stanford University criticizes Open edX’s official governance


Stanford University –which has been successfully using its own Open edX instance since April 2013, managing 20 public MOOCs and many more courses for on-campus use– criticizes in an elaborate report the way in which the xConsortium is running the edX open-source project, while it shares its recommendations to improve governance, core technology, and community management.

“We believe making these improvements will drive adoption amongst teachers, hosting providers, researchers, IT departments, and developers. Our recommendations are informed by interviews with a dozen stakeholders,” writes Sef Kloninger, Head of Engineering at Stanford Online, in Open edX’s Google group for discussions.

Mr. Kloninger posted Stanford’s findings online, in a Google Doc and in plain HTML. This paper was authored by Nate Aune, an open-source entrepreneur.

What follows is a summary of the recommendations:


  • Clarify and communicate the mission of Open edX

  • Establish clear guidelines for contributors

  • Expand governance to involve the community in technical and product decisions

Technical Improvements

  • Open up the development process: public wikis, public bug tracking

  • Move to 2-4 stable releases per year: release notes, upgrade scripts, improved packaging and testing

  • Provide more ways to extend and modify the platform without having to change the core: content interfaces and APIs

  • Improve the Open edX documentation

  • Create a more informative website targeted at platform adopters

  • Establish an ecosystem of commercial vendors and hosting providers

Community Building

  • Hire a full-time Open edX community manager

  • Establish, measure, and communicate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  • Create forums to engage platform users (developers, hosting providers, researchers), e.g. user group meetings and office hours