Interpreting the different "View As" options in Open edX - Appsembler

Interpreting the different “View As” options in Open edX

s a course staff member, there are several ways to view your course in the LMS (Learning Management System). Here’s how to toggle between them and what each option means. 

Changing view in the LMS

Changing how you’re viewing a course in the LMS is easy to do. 

  1. In the top left part of the screen, locate the drop down menu that reads View this course as: 

  2. From this drop down menu you can select a number of different options. Simply choose one and release. The page will automatically refresh in the selected view.  

NOTE: If you don’t see the View this course as drop down menu, it is likely because your Course Start Date has not yet been reached. The drop down will only appear for courses that have officially begun. If you would like to use this feature anyway, simply set your course start date to the past. You can always change it back later!

Interpreting the different View As options in the LMS

There are several different ways in which to view your course in the LMS. Here’s what each one entails.


Viewing a course as Staff is the default. This view will show you everything in your course. Some specific points of interest that are only available to Staff include: 

  • View Course in Studio buttons – These allow you to jump directly into that particular unit in Studio from the LMS
  • Staff Debug Info – A panel to help you manage several technical aspects of a particular component
  • Instructor Dashboard – The Instructor Dashboard is where you do all of the managing of your course and the learners enrolled in it.
  • Staff-Only sections of the course – Any area you’ve denoted as Staff only in Studio will only be visible in the LMS using the Staff LMS view option.  
  • Content from all cohorts – If your course has cohort-specific content, viewing the LMS as Staff will allow you to see your page with all content, regardless of cohort visibility. In the screenshot below, notice the “Instructions for Windows” and “Instructions for MacOS” which are designed to be only visible to their respective cohorts

The only pieces of content that are not visible in the LMS – even to staff users – are Draft content. This is content that has not been published from Studio yet. 


The learner view is what your course looks like to a generic learner (a.k.a. student) in your course. In this view, essentially all of the additional items you see as a Staff viewer go away. All you’re able to see is the content that is available to learners in your course.

In the generic Learner view, you will be unable to see Discussion forums or Progress pages since those are tied to specific learner interactions within the course. 

Specific Learner

By selecting Specific learner, you will be able to type in an enrolled learner’s username or email address in order to view the course as if you were that learner. By viewing a course as a specific learner, you’ll be able to see how that learner has answered specific problems in the course, what discussions they have participated in, and their individual progress page. If the learner is in a cohort, you will also be able to see what cohort-specific content or discussions that learner has available to them. 

If your course includes any graded content, you can click on the Progress page to see that learners grades throughout the course. 

Learner in [Cohort Name]

Using the Learner in [Cohort Name] view allows you to see the course as a generic member of a specific cohort. This means you will be able to see specific pieces of content and/or discussions that are only visible to members of that cohort. Everything else about this view mode is the same as the generic Learner view mode. 

Learner in Honor

Some Open edX sites use what are called “enrollment tracks” which, to oversimplify things, allow learners to have a different course experience based on what their learning goals are (eg. to audit the course, to earn a professional certificate, etc). In nearly all Appsembler-hosted Open edX sites, only a single enrollment track is available, and that is the honor track. This has to do with making HTML certificates available to organizations that wish to utilize them. 

Because honor is the only available enrollment track, this view mode is the exact same as the Learner view mode.