Creating Online Training Courses on Open edX - Appsembler

Creating Online Training Courses on Open edX

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed our lives further online than they have ever been before. Aside from the Zoom quizzes and virtual happy hours, businesses that had previously operated from physical locations, realized they could often function just as well with remote employees.

This coincided with a general boon in online learning. With schools shut across the world, children studied with teachers online using tools and platforms such as Google Classroom. With lockdown confining many people indoors, people who suddenly found themselves with free time took online courses, whether that was learning a new language or brushing up on their cooking skills (sourdough starter and banana bread anyone?).

For businesses, this meant shifting in-person training to online training. Whether it was onboarding new starters or up-skilling existing employees, companies tapped into online platforms to deliver training and realized the benefits of not confining people to a classroom. 

Many companies used MOOCs –– Massive Open Online Courses –– such as edX, to offer pre-packaged courses to their learners. Harvard and MIT founded edX in 2012 and it offers training courses from leading universities and institutions to people regardless of their location.

While edX is useful if you want to offer its pre-built courses, you’ll need to look for a different approach if you want to create your own courses. That’s where the Open edX platform comes in. This blog post will explore:

What is Open edX?

If you’re a training manager, you might already be familiar with Open edX, which is a free, open-source, online learning solution that powers courses, MOOCs, and corporate training worldwide. 

The beauty of Open edX is that it lets you create your own, self-hosted university that you can combine with the wide catalog of available edX courses. Some of Open edX’s key features include:

  • Adaptive learning – create online training that adapts to the needs of your audience
  • Multimedia functionality – embed HD video (including YouTube videos), webinars, animation, simulation, and augmented and virtual reality
  • Collaboration – multiple course authors can work on creating a course at the same time
  • Content library – reuse content in multiple courses and create question banks
  • Course template management – export and import courses and use them as templates
  • CMS capabilities – ability to publish content outside of courses, for example on your website
  • Course readiness checklists –– ensure you’ve completed all necessary components before publishing your online training
  • Learner analytics – track training progress and completion rates

As Open edX is open-sourced, you don’t have to wait months for updates; tech experts across the world are constantly working to improve the platform. With its plethora of third-party tools and extensions, you can build courses that exactly meet the needs of your audience and match your brand’s look and feel.

But while the Open edX software is free, you do have to host and maintain it yourself–which is no easy feat and should take into consideration your ability to access technical resources, the total cost of ownership, and ongoing maintenance. 

How Do I Create Online Training Courses on Open edX?

Looking under the hood, Open edX consists of two components:

  • Open edX LMS –– a learning management system where your audience signs up for and takes courses
  • Open edX Studio –– a content management system (CMS) where you can create your own courses

Open edX does not provide any course content. To build your Open edX courses and create a structure, you need to use the Studio CMS component. You can access Open edX Studio through your browser using the same login as the LMS rather than downloading any additional software. 

Studio lets you add course content, create a structure and schedule, configure course policies and settings, set grading policies, and more. It provides drag-and-drop tools to help you build out your training content as well as a hierarchy of sections and subsections to organize your content. You don’t have to release all of your content at once but can choose to deploy it when it is built or schedule it for the future.

Now, let’s talk about XBlocks. Each Open edX course is made up of units called XBlocks. These are like miniature applications or website plugins that you can use to extend the Open edX platform and make your online training more engaging. Some examples of XBlocks that we like include:

  • Polls and surveys
  • Embedding Google Docs
  • Peer instruction
  • Leaderboards
  • PDF displays
  • Drag-and-drop exercises

Developers can also build their own XBlocks that work together with these pre-built components or choose to just use their own. XBlocks can either represent individual problems, such as the examples listed above, or larger structures such as lessons and courses. 

Where Can I Get Help Building an Open edX University?

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to creating your own Open edX university, or you don’t have the curriculum development or technical resources to work with Studio and build XBlocks, we can help. 

With Appsembler Tahoe, you can launch your own branded Open edX site within minutes even if you don’t have any coding experience. Appsembler Tahoe lets you customize your course to your brand and style and you can also get expert advice on how to author courses on the Open edX platform from your dedicated Customer Success Manager. 

get in touch to find out how we can get you up and running with Open edX in minutes.