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About Open edX

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EdX is a nonprofit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT and composed of dozens of leading global institutions, the xConsortium. EdX offers interactive online courses and MOOCs from the world’s best universities and institutions.

Open edX is the open source platform that powers edX courses.  Through our commitment to the open source vision, edX code is freely available to the community. Institutions can host their own instances of Open edX and offer their own classes. Educators can extend the platform to build learning tools that precisely meet their needs. And developers can contribute new features to the Open edX platform.

Our goal is to build a thriving worldwide community of educators and technologists who share innovative solutions to benefit students everywhere. We invite you to explore Open edX and participate in our growing movement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Open edX?

The Open edX platform is a free--and open source--course management system (CMS) that was originally developed by edX. The Open edX platform is used all over the world to host Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as well as smaller classes and training modules.

What is included in Open edX?

  • Open edX Studio

  • The Open edX LMS (Learning Management System)

  • The capa_module XBlock, which implements a set of problem types that are based on LON-CAPA problem types

  • The ORA2 XBlock, which implements an open response assessment problem type

  • Discussion forum

  • Open edX Insights

What is Open edX Studio?

Studio is the Open edX tool that you use to build your courses. You use Studio to create the course structure and then add course content, including problems, videos, and other resources for learners.

You also use Studio to manage the course schedule and the course team, set grading policies, publish each part of your course, and more.

You use Studio directly through a browser. You do not need any additional software.

What is the Open edX LMS?

The LMS is the Open edX tool that learners use to access course content, including videos, textbooks, and problems, and to check their progress in the course. The Open edX LMS can also offer a discussion forum and a wiki that both learners and course team members can contribute to.  

For course team members, the LMS includes an Instructor Dashboard, with options to enroll learners, produce reports, and administer a course as it runs.

You use the LMS directly through a browser. You do not need any additional software.

What is an XBlock?

XBlock is the component architecture for the elements of an Open edX course. Software developers build XBlocks to create independent course components that work seamlessly with other components in an online course.

For example, you can build XBlocks to represent individual problems, or text strings, or HTML content. In addition, XBlocks are composable: you can build XBlocks to represent larger structures such as lessons, sections, and entire courses. By combining XBlocks that serve a wide variety of purposes, from delivering text and video content, to presenting multiple choice and numerical questions, to supporting sophisticated collaborative and interactive learning laboratories, course teams can create rich and engaging courseware.

A primary advantage to XBlocks is that they are deployable. The code that you write can be deployed in any instance of the edX Platform or other XBlock runtime application, and then used by any course team using that system.

How can I try out Open edX?

In partnership with Bitnami, edX offers virtual machine (VM) images of the Open edX Cypress release. VM images are available for a number of widely-used cloud platforms, and give you a way to run Open edX in a trial mode. For more information, see the Open edX Cypress Virtual Machine Images Now Available Thanks to Bitnami blog post.

Another option is to install and run the Open edX Developer Stack, or Devstack.

There are also several Open edX service providers who offer installation services. See the list in GitHub.

What is Devstack, and how do I get started?

Devstack is a virtual machine image that is designed for local development. Running Devstack gives you the chance to discover and fix system configuration issues early in development. Devstack simplifies certain production settings to make development more convenient. For example, nginx and gunicorn are disabled in Devstack; Devstack uses Django’s runserver instead. For more information, see Open edX Developer Stack in Installing, Configuring, and Running an Open edX Instance

Where should I go for documentation?

You can find all of the Open edX documentation at the web site. In the section titled Open edX Documentation: Latest Release, you can find the most up-to-date guides for Open edX developers, service providers, course teams, and learners. The guides in this section are continuously updated as new features are added to the platform. You can also find documentation for supported Open edX releases on this page, currently for the Open edX Cypress Release. The guides in this section align with the feature set in the specified release of the Open edX platform.

When you work in Studio, documentation is available from the Help menu in Studio.  If you are using an Open edX named release, the Help menu connects to the correct version of Building and Running an Open edX Course.

Developers might also find the wiki pages in our GitHub repo helpful.

EdX is continuously working to improve the Open edX documentation. The edX documentation team welcomes your feedback and requests at [email protected].

Where should I go for help?

In addition to this Open edX Portal, developers can join several different Google groups to ask questions and participate in discussions with peers and edX staffers. See our Community Discussions page.