Open edX – open source learning platform

Author(s): Hannu Markkanen

Affiliation(s): Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

Date of publication: May 24, 2016

The Educational Problem

In university courses where collaborative knowledge creation practices are the the main pedagogical approach, the flipped classroom approach can be a good strategy for delivering the foundational instructional content. Combining these two approaches poses wide range of requirements for the digital learning environment and typically there is no single learning management system that can fulfill all of them. A hub with repository for learning resources and for connecting the various tools is, however, always needed. When a Learning Management System (LMS) is used as such a hub, the following requirements should be considered: support for various types of learning resources; simple, clear and consistent user interface; configurable set of internal tools and features for a particular course; easily extendable use of external tools, and good scalability in terms of the number of concurrent users.

The Solution

Open edX is an open source platform for building and running online courses. Initially it has been developed for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). EdX is well suitable for flipped classroom use as it has been designed for delivering various types of content material efficiently, including videos. Content can include embedded external components, such as Google Drive, as well as online exercises and automated tests. Students can add personal notes to the course content. EdX platform provides also integrated tools useful for collaborative learning, such as online forums and peer assessment.

Key Experiences

EdX was used in a course about e-learning environments at the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The main purposes of edX were to deliver the learning material and to link various tools for team-based learning activities and collaborative knowledge construction. The course was based on blended model and most of the collaborative team work was carried out face-to-face in the classroom with the presence of the teacher.

Setting-up the edX course was fairly straightforward for the teacher having experience of various learning platforms. The edX Studio is an easy to use tool for creating the course structure, developing the learning materials and adding exercises and tools. Students found edX easy to use due to the logical and consistent user interface. Course content has always a hierarchical structure, on which the navigation elements are based.

Materials and Links

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