Hello again from edX headquarters! Another month has flown by, and we want to let you know what we’ve been up to for the past few weeks.

Two images of the video player, one with the closed captions at the bottom and the other with the closed captions in the middle of the player.

Improvements for Learners

Learners asked, and we listened! One of the most requested features has been enabling the arrow buttons on all unit pages so that learners can more easily navigate both forward and backward through the course. No more getting stuck on a unit page at the end of a subsection—learners can just select the arrow button to move to the next one.

In addition to making course navigation easier, we’ve added the ability to move video closed captions to a different place on the video display—while the video plays. You no longer have to worry about missing information that’s hidden behind the caption block!

Finally, because we want signing up for a verified certificate to be as seamless as possible, we recently updated and streamlined the checkout process on the edx.org website. The challenging part of earning a verified certificate should be the course!

Improvements for Course Authors

Remember when creating a drag and drop problem involved wading through a confusing maze of pixel maps, URLs, and XML coordinates? We’ve just released a new version of drag and drop, which uses a graphical interface to walk you through each step as you create your problem. This new drag and drop problem type also includes new features, including the ability to provide feedback for incorrect answers and specify a separate background color for draggable items. For researchers, this problem type creates several new events that you can analyze in your data packages. And, for our learners, these problems are both mobile ready and accessible for learners with disabilities. 

We can’t wait for you to try out this new problem type! We encourage you to use it for new drag and drop problems, and to convert drag and drop problems in re-run courses to the new problem type so that learners can take advantage of the problem type’s new features. Eventually, version 1 of the drag and drop problem type will be removed from the Studio problem type options (though existing drag and drop problems that use that problem type will continue to work as expected). For more information about this new problem type, see Drag and Drop Problem in Building and Running an Open edX Course or Drag and Drop Events in the EdX Research Guide.

We’ve made other improvements to building and running a course as well. Course teams can now add more than one ORA component in a single unit, and we’ve fixed a problem that sometimes caused course teams to receive error messages when they changed course update dates. We’ve also updated two data reports: Comments from the peer or staff grading step in the ORA data report and problems in the problem grade report now appear in the same order that they follow in the course.

Accessibility Improvements

As part of our mission to provide education to everyone, everywhere, edX takes accessibility seriously. We’ve already mentioned our new drag and drop problem type, which was explicitly designed with a focus on accessibility. We’ve also improved the LMS so that screen readers read only the title of each unit in a learning sequence. Previously, screen readers read not only the title of the unit, but the titles of each component in the unit.

Improvements for System Administrators and Developers

We’ve expanded the Open edX badges feature! You can now use the Django administration panel to design and create badges for events that you specify, such as enrolling in a certain number of courses. Course teams can enable or disable badges for individual courses, and learners can view their badges in their profiles or share their badges with others using Mozilla Backpack. For more information, see any of the following topics: 

Finally, we have deprecated the mobile, course structure, and profile images REST web services. For more information about supported and deprecated web services, see Open edX Platform APIs.

Coming Soon

Very soon, the learner dashboard will have a new page: In addition to the default Courses page, which will resemble the current dashboard, learners will be able to access a separate Programs page that lists learners’ XSeries Programs and indicates learners’ progress in each Program. This new dashboard page will improve XSeries Program visibility for learners, giving them easier access to more information about XSeries courses. For more information, see Coming Soon: XSeries Programs Page.

Join the Open edX developer, course author, and instructor community at Stanford University for the Open edX conference June 14 and 15, followed by workshops and tutorials June 16! Learn more and register at con.openedx.org.