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What Is Open edX And Why 19 Million People Use It?

Blended learning, corporate training, customer onboarding, MOOCs create significant demand in learning management systems and LMS. Nowadays, there are many options among LMSs: proprietary and open-source, on-premises, and SaaS LMS. When it comes to open-source LMS, Open edX is one of the most incredible options in the market.
So, what makes Open edX the top choice of world-leading educational institutions and corporations, governmental organizations, and eLearning startups? In this article, we will outline the answers to this question.

What Is It And Why 19 Million People Use It?
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What Is Open edX And Why 19 Million People Use It?

What Is Open edX

Open edX is an open-source learning platform created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) for the world’s most prominent online learning portal – edx.org.

It was created to fulfil the instructional design needs of various organizations to create engaging experiences that cover different topics, pursue other goals and use different learning scenarios. That’s why edX became so flexible and diverse.

Open Edx helps teach learners physics, maths, and even acoustics using engaging and interactive LMS features that are available straight out of the box. It also offers the ability to integrate multiple third-party systems like SCORM, LTI, iFrame. But before we dive into the features of Open edX, we’ll briefly describe its history and how it compares with other learning management systems.

What is an open-source platform?

An open-source platform is a type of software whose source code is available to the public, allowing anyone to inspect, modify, and distribute it. The term “open source” refers to something that people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. The fundamental philosophy of open-source software is rooted in transparency, collaboration, and freedom.

Benefits of open-source platforms include:

  • Flexibility and Freedom: Users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change, and improve the software, thus giving them more control over the product.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Many open-source platforms are free, reducing the financial burden on users.
  • Community Support: Open-source platforms are typically supported by active and passionate communities that are committed to continual development and improvement.
  • Transparency: Open-source platforms allow for a higher level of scrutiny, which can lead to more secure, reliable, and high-quality software.

According to a survey by SecurityMagazine, 91% of the code in today’s applications is open-source.

4 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Choosing An Open-Source LMS

You will determine whether Open-Source LMS suits your online learning project needs by answering the questions below.

Click Let’s start button to pass the quiz!

Who are the competitors of Open edX?

While Open edX has established a strong foothold in the eLearning industry, there are several notable competitors that provide similar services.

  • Moodle: One of the world’s most popular learning management systems, Moodle boasts over 213 million users in 241 countries as of 2022. Its open-source nature, rich features, and vast community make it a strong competitor to Open edX.
  • Blackboard Learn: With a rich feature set designed to facilitate learning, Blackboard Learn is preferred by many institutions. It provides both a learning management system and virtual learning environment.
  • Canvas: Another open-source LMS, Canvas is known for its user-friendly interface and robust features. It has strong support for integrations and mobile accessibility.
  • Coursera: An online learning platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, Coursera offers a vast variety of courses. However, unlike Open edX, it is not open source.

Each of these platforms has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice among them usually depends on the specific requirements of an institution or individual.

Brief Open edX History

EdX was founded in May 2012 by scientists from Harvard and MIT. 155,000 students from 162 countries enrolled in the first edX course, and in 2013 the number of students reached 1 million students. It was the start of a successful open-source release and the creation of Open edX.

Adoption Stats In Dynamics

Open edX VS Other Popular Platforms

Understanding how Open edX stands between other LMS is essential, so you might want to know which LMS suits your needs best by comparing LMSs.

Who Currently Uses Open edX?

Open edX has seen widespread adoption across a multitude of sectors, with organizations ranging from large corporations, educational institutions, small organizations, nonprofits, government institutions, and NGOs using the platform for various purposes:

Organizations using Open edX:

  • Large Organizations: World-renowned organizations, including Google, Microsoft LaaS, McKinsey, and Johnson & Johnson, utilize Open edX for employee education and customer onboarding among other uses.
  • Educational organizations: Notable educational institutions like Harvard, MIT, and Arizona State University leverage Open edX to engage students through interactive content and robust tools to track educational progress.
  • Small Organizations: Open edX is an invaluable resource for smaller organizations as it allows them to create high-quality, customized content, thereby increasing both their profit margins and learner engagement.
  • Nonprofits and NGOs: Open edX is also extensively used by nonprofit organizations and NGOs for various training, education, and community outreach initiatives.
  • Government Institutions: These entities make use of Open edX for the training and continuous education of their personnel, public education initiatives, and more.

Industries using Open edX include:

  • Civic & Social Organizations: These organizations leverage Open edX for community education, awareness programs, and member training.
  • Computer Software: Companies in this industry use Open edX to provide comprehensive training on software development, usage, and technical skills enhancement.
  • Education Management: Open edX is extensively used for managing diverse educational content, tracking student progress, and providing a flexible learning environment.
  • Education: K-12 and Learning: Schools and other educational organizations use Open edX to deliver quality education to students, providing interactive content and facilitating efficient learning processes.

In essence, Open edX’s versatile and customizable nature makes it a platform of choice for organizations of all sizes and types across various sectors.

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Why is Open edX used by 19 million people today?

As has been mentioned, demand for LMS is colossal today, and it keeps gaining momentum.

So how does Open edX stand out in comparison to other LMSs? The logic is simple: it provides better readiness for the online learning future, thus explaining its increase in popularity.

We’ll uncover the list of features based on the current global online learning challenges and needs.

Challenges With Online Teaching Tools

According to Brandon Hall Group, there are a lot of organizations that are looking to replace LMS. The main reason is that current systems do not help resolve all the challenges they face.

We bet that Open edX is one of the systems that these organizations are switching to.

Let’s take a look at these challenges:

When we define what is needed, let’s look at how Open edX delivers all of these needs.

Open edX Features: Learner Interface Overview

Easy-to-use user interface design is essential to the learning experience. It can influence a user’s perception of the entire learning process.

Having diverse purposes and community influence, Open edX LMS has a clear and simple yet effective interface with everything that learners need, leaving out all the bells and whistles that distract users from the learning process.

Course Navigation

A structured course navigation panel helps to switch between modules and lessons quickly. Navigation between tasks during the learning process is intuitive, and the learner can always see where they are and how many lessons are left for the current module/subsection. And, it is easy to understand whether there are any assessments to complete.

Progress Dashboard

Progress monitoring is an integral part of the educational process for both teachers and students. Open edX enables learners to monitor their progress with the progress dashboard in different ways. The dashboard is clear and informative: it understands the current course success, and important information about assessment results in a structured report format.

Open edX Features: Types of Content

When it comes to content for an online course, variety matters. Out of the box, Open edX provides the ability to craft online learning material using an extensive range of content types:

  • Text, images

  • Videos

  • Interactive videos and images

  • SCORM, LTI, iFrame

  • 20+ types of assessments

The list can be extended and customized to the needs of a particular project (simulation, virtual lab, etc.)

Open edX Features: Instructor Interface Overview

Instructors or course owners have a wide range of tools to create, organize and run learning courses in Open edX:

  • Build the course structure (3-levels)

  • Manage enrollment rules (access settings, prerequisites, enrollment options, course dates)

  • Set the grading policies (course completion conditions, types of assessments, and their influence on the final course grade etc.)

  • Enroll and unenroll learners

  • Group learners and manage content routing

  • Add, organize learning content inside the course

  • Manage the visual features of the course

  • Manage and issue certificates

  • Manage monetization

  • Track learning metrics, build reports

The range of the tools is not complete, and basic Open edX functionalities can cover even particular cases. To know more, you can simply book a demo with us.

Open edX Features: Social Abilities

Social learning in eLearning is one of the booming trends, making social features essential for all learning platforms. The Open EdX platform delivers a variety of channels to enable socialization during the learning process. The social features allow students to collaborate on assignments and projects, discuss all learning issues/ideas/feedback with other learners, and participate in polls and surveys separately or within groups.

Polls and Surveys

It’s crucial to figure out what your learners want. A good survey tool can help instructors to get answers to essential questions.

Online Discussions

Course creators can create Discussions within a course and ensure collaboration between learners.

Group Tasks

Using this feature, an instructor can create groups focused on specific learning topics, business needs, or work-related interests. Groups may be used for assignment submissions and content organization.

Open edX Features: Reporting and Analytics

Using Open Edx Analytics, instructors monitor enrollments and unenrollments within chosen periods.

Different types of Analytic reports help to detect which assessments caused problems for students, cluster course students by their learning progress in real-time, see where course content might need improvements, etc.

An internal Raccoon Gang project RG Analytics aimed to create easy-to-use, actionable insights for Open edX course instructors.

Open edX Features: Customization

Open edX custom feature development is applied and enables the specific functionalities required by course authors.

Game-based learning and gamification

Game-based learning is often considered an essential component of modern eLearning systems. Gamification increases engagement and course completion rate significantly.  Both can be easily implemented into Open edX courses.

Adaptive Learning

This technology is used for educational process improvement and modifies teaching methods based on that data. The adaptive learning architecture of the Open edX platform enables users to interact with learners in real-time, automatically providing individualized support.

Competency-based learning

Competency-based education allows students to advance their skills or competencies at their own pace, regardless of their environment. Open edX includes the ability to implement modern learning concepts based on a competency-based learning approach: scenario-based learning, self-directed knowledge assessment, and skill-based branching scenario.

Comprehensive theming

By leveraging the comprehensive theming Open edX enables course creators to customize their platform completely. The software provides a powerful and flexible way of tailoring user interfaces to business needs.

Mobile App

Open edX mobile app is a great feature that allows users to learn on the go. It helps provide a simple and convenient environment for students who access online courses on mobile devices.

Is Custom Development better?

Custom development refers to the creation of specific software solutions tailor-made for an organization’s unique requirements. The question of whether custom development is better than using a pre-built platform like Open edX depends on various factors:

  • Uniqueness of requirements: If your organization has unique needs that aren’t met by existing platforms, custom development can be a good choice.
  • Budget: Custom development is typically more expensive than adopting an existing platform.
  • Time: Developing a custom solution takes time. If you’re under a tight schedule, a ready-made solution like Open edX may be more suitable.

Benefits of custom development include:

  • Tailor-made Solutions: Custom software is built to meet your specific needs.
  • Scalability: Custom-built solutions can grow with your organization.
  • Competitive Advantage: Having unique software could provide a competitive edge.

However, in the realm of eLearning, platforms like Open edX provide extensive capabilities and flexibility, making them an excellent choice for most organizations. It’s worth noting that Open edX itself can be customized to a large extent, offering a balanced blend of pre-built efficiency and custom-tailored adaptability.

Final Words

If an open-source platform fits your needs, you should choose a preferred Open edX provider. To know more about custom Open Edx solutions, you can Book a call with the Raccoon Gang team.


Open Edx official site.


What is the price of Open edX?

As an open-source platform, Open edX itself is free to use. However, the costs can come from other areas such as setting up the platform, customization, maintenance, hosting, and support services. These costs can vary greatly depending on the specific needs and scale of your implementation.

What are some Open edX use cases?

Open edX supports a variety of learning modes and purposes, including:

Academic Learning: Used by universities and schools to offer online courses and degree programs.
Continuing Education: Utilized for professional development courses or post-secondary training.
Employee Training: Companies use it for internal training, employee skill development, and onboarding.
Microlearning: For short, focused segments of learning for quick knowledge acquisition.
Social Learning: Facilitates collaborative learning through discussion forums, social media integrations, etc.
Training Companies: Deployed to offer online training programs to various client companies.
Workforce Development: Used by organizations for training and skill development to prepare employees for specific job roles.

How can Open edX be deployed?

Open edX can be deployed in a number of ways:

Desktop Application: Accessible via a web browser on desktop computers.
Mobile Application: Offers native apps for both Android and iOS for learning on the go.
Self-Hosted Cloud-based: Can be installed and run on your organization’s cloud-based servers.
Self-Hosted System: Can be installed on your organization’s local servers.
Software as a Service / Cloud: Hosted on the cloud and accessible via the internet.

What integrations are available with Open edX?

Open edX supports integration with a variety of services including:

API: For integrating with other software systems.
BigBlueButton: A web conferencing system designed for online learning.
WordPress: For integrating blog and CMS capabilities.
Zoom: A popular tool for video conferencing and online meetings.

What training resources are available for Open edX?

There are several resources available for learning how to use Open edX:

Documentation: Comprehensive user guides and technical documentation.
In Person: Instructor-led training sessions.
Live Online: Real-time, online instructor-led training.
Online Tutorials: Pre-recorded videos and tutorials.
Webinars: Online seminars and product demonstrations.

What support options are available for Open edX?

Open edX offers a variety of support channels:

Business Hours: Support is available during standard business hours.
Email: Users can send queries and issues via email.
FAQ: A section with answers to frequently asked questions.
Knowledge Base: A comprehensive resource with articles and guides on using Open edX.
Live Online: Real-time online support.
Phone: Phone support for immediate assistance.

What specifications does Open edX support?

Open edX supports a range of e-learning specifications:

SCORM 2004
SCORM 2004 3rd Edition
SCORM 2004 4th Edition

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