Open edX: What Is It And Why 19 Million People Use It?
Blended learning, corporate training, customer onboarding, MOOCs and other online learning platforms purposes create significant demand in learning management systems or LMS. And nowadays, there are a lot of options out there: proprietary and open source, on premises and SaaS… And in some cases, open source is the best way to go.
And, when it comes to open source LMS, Open edX is one of the greatest options in the market.
So, what makes Open edX the LMS that is used all around the world by top universities and corporations along with governmental organizations and eLearning startups? In this article, we will outline the answers to this question.
But, before you start…
There is no one-size-fits-all products in the world except water (maybe) and Open edX is not an exception. So, before dive in, we suggest you to use the quiz we’ve created for our blog post to help you understand whether open source lms is a good fit for you:
If the answer is “yes” - we totally recommend you to read on.
What Is Open edX
Open edX is an open source learning platform that was created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) for the biggest online learning portal in the world - edx.org. It was created to fulfill instructional design needs of various organizations so they can create engaging experiences that cover different topics, pursue different goals and use different learning scenarios. That’s why Open edX became so flexible and diverse. One can have the tools to teach learners physics, maths, and even acoustics using engaging and interactive tools that are available out of the box. And, there is the ability to integrate multiple third party systems and tools like SCORM, LTI, iFrame so the abilities are boundless. 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.
Brief Open edX History
EdX was founded in May 2012 by scientists from Harvard and MIT. The first edX course enrolled 155,000 students from 162 countries and in 2013 they reached 1 million students. It was the start of successful open source release and Open edX creation.
Adoption Stats In Dynamics
Open edX VS Other Popular Platforms
It’s important to understand how Open edX stands between other LMS, so we’ve created the “LMS Comparison” blog post based on the extensive community research. Please refer to it for more details. But for your convenience, we’ll post here the main comparison infographic.
Who Use Open edX Currently?
As we said, Open edX is adopted by the wide range of organizations:
World’s largest organizations including Google, Microsoft LaaS, McKinsey, Johnson & Johnson use Open edX for employees education, customer onboarding, etc.
Harvard, MIT, Arizona State University and others use Open edX to engage a huge amount of students and provide them with interactive content, ability to track educational progress, etc.
Open edX gives the ability for small organizations to create high-quality and customized content that increase organizations’ profit and learner engagement.
When we are done with brief Open edX introduction, let’s get to the most interesting part: explaining why Open edX becomes so popular.
Why Open edX is used by 19 million people today?
As it has been said, demand for LMS is huge today and it keeps gaining its momentum.
So why Open edX stands out in comparison with other systems? The logic is simple: the more needs are covered by the system and the better its readiness for online learning future, the more popular it becomes.
The list of features we’ll uncover here is based on the global online learning challenges and needs that are actual today.
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 to fully resolve all the challenges that 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:
Advanced features such as content creation, course organization and administration
Comfortable web and mobile learner interface
Variety of content types and delivery features
Integration with internal systems and corporate databases
Reporting and analytics features
Modern learner engagement features such as gamification, adaptive learning, etc.
Custom look and feel aligned with brand
When we defined what is needed, let’s take a look at how Open edX delivers all the needs.
Open edX Features: Learner Interface Overview
Comfortable user interface design is an essential part of the learning experience. It can influence a user’s perception of the entire learning process.
Having diverse purposes and community influence, Open edX has clear and simple yet effective interface that has everything that learners need, leaving out all the bells and whistles that rather distract users from the learning process.
Structured course navigation panel helps to quickly switch between modules and lessons. Navigation between lessons during the learning process is intuitive and 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 some assessments to complete.
Progress monitoring is an integral part of the educational process either for 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 gives an understanding of the current course success and important information about assessments 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 extensive range of content types:
Text, images (what you see is what you get editor)
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 online courses in Open edX:
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 visual features of the course
Manage and issue certificates
Track learning metrics, build reports
The range of the tools is not complete and even very specific cases can be covered by basic Open edX functionalities. To get to know more, you can simply book a demo with us.
Open edX Features: Social Abilities
Social features are absolutely essential for all learning platforms and Open edX platform delivers a variety of channels for socialization of the process. The social features allow students to collaborate on assignments, projects, discuss all learning issues/ideas/feedback with other learners, and take part in polls and surveys separately or within groups.
Polls and Surveys
It’s important to figure out what your learners want. A good survey tool can help instructors to get answers on important questions.
Course creators can create Discussions within a course and ensure collaboration between learners.
Using this feature instructor can create groups that are 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 Analytics, instructors monitor enrollments and unenrollments within chosen period.
Different types of Analytic reports help to detect which assessments cause problems for students, clusterize course students by their learning progress in real-time, detect 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 adding of specific functionality required by course authors.
Game-based learning and gamification
Gamification allows to significantly increase engagement and course completion rates. Game-based learning often considered as an important component of modern eLearning systems.
Both can be easily implemented to Open edX courses.
This technology is used for educational process improvement and modifies teaching methods based on that data. An adaptive learning architecture for the Open edX platform enables to respond to learner's interactions in real-time, automatically providing individualized support.
Competency-based education allows students to advance their skills or competencies at their own pace regardless of environment. Open edX includes the ability to implement modern learning concepts based on competency-based learning approach: scenario-based learning, self-directed knowledge assessment, skill-based branching scenario.
By leveraging the comprehensive theming Open edX enables course creators to completely customize their platform. The software provides a powerful and flexible way of tailoring user interface to business’ needs.
Open edX mobile app is a great feature that allows to take learning on the go. It helps to provide a simple and convenient environment for students that access online courses from mobile devices.
If open source fits you well you should definitely consider Open edX as an option. It is widely adopted, has a large and expanding community, constantly developed and incredibly flexible from the perspective of customizations.
To know whether Open edX is a fit for your specific case, you should dive deeper into its features and abilities. We can help you with that by providing a personalized demo.