edX rolls out stable tested releases inclusive of upgrade instructions every 4-6 months. Released on February 11, 2016, Dogwood has a host of new features to empower course makers with new and efficient tools. Fun fact: Dogwood happens to be named after a tree like prior Open edX releases (Aspen, Birch, Cypress and the upcoming Eucalyptus release)
“Students learn much better when they are interacting with the material. Self-pacing can be very helpful for learning. Another idea is instant feedback. We applied gamification ideas to learning.”
Here's a summary of some of our favorite new features:
Mobile App Features: The key, critical additions are new mobile app features.the improvements are a big step forward in a mobile first world. To preview mobile behavior, log in to edX.org running on Dogwood, browse courses registered for, attempt assessments, view videos, handouts and announcements. You can practically use most common features in mobile that the desktop website allows you to do. More advanced features like drag-and-drop are not yet available on mobile, basic assessments are available on the mobile app. On a more technical note, xBlocks, the extensible framework used to develop advanced learning units, do not yet have mobile support built in. Mobile support needed to be developed by the implementer of the feature, making mobile support for all learning units even more complicated.
E-commerce Service: There is a more comprehensive e-commerce service, Otto, now available, beyond the basic shopping cart and cybersource implementation available earlier. A Django application, the e-commerce service will manage product catalog orders. Adding ECommerce to your Open edX install can be achived using a Course Administration Tool (CAT, a web app) and a Django administration site. CAT is part of the ECommerce service, it enables you to manage and configure course-related products as part of your edX learning management system .
Partial Credit: Earlier edX versions evaluated the assessment answers to be either right or wrong. In Dogwood, you can award a minimum of 0.25 points to the learner. This occurs when the learner chooses the second-most likely answer out of the provided four options.
LTI XBlock: The new LTI XBlock edition will replace the LTI XModule. Apart from existing module features, users can configure learning tools interoperability (LTI). There are a few options to render content: embedded in a course page, in a modal window or in a separate web browser window. Remote learning tools like textbooks and applications can also be integrated into your course, thanks to LTI components. Embedding a variety of third-party tools and plug-ins is now easier, thanks to LTI.
More LTI uses:
- Remote LTI tools can be used for content display only. These do not require a learner response.
- The same remote LTI tools can aid in stages that require a learner's response.
- The LTI component can also act as a placeholder for remote grading system synchronization.
Specific Student View: An instructor can preview how a particular course looks to any particular student by just typing in their email id or user name. This is a useful addition for troubleshooting and grading.
Certifications: Dogwood allows you to create HTML web certificates. You can fill in the details, preview the design and take a print out, giving youmore flexibility on how students canview their certificate. It also allows you to purchase a verified certificate (proof that you took the course) and verify student identity..
Instructor Dashboard: Dogwood provides a more dynamic application, for example - allowing viewing of invoices of all students taking the course. The dashboard is now loaded with a great set of tools giving the instructor an all-round view of the set up. This includes course info, analytics, student admin, certificates, enrollment codes and course seat purchases.
Student Notes: A nice handy new feature, allowing students to take down notes, highlight text, tag the selected text, edit or delete them. A 'Notes' tab allows you to search through your collected notes and find the one you want.
Bulk Enrollment: In cases where employees from an entire organization have to avail a course, Dogwood has eased the initiation process. It allows learners to access the courses through bulk enrollment codes and unique URLs. Any paid course can be set up in the back end, with a simple interface allowing you to either edit or create a brand new course altogether. The course name, course type, course price, course upgrade deadline and certificate deadline can all be selected with ease.
Paid Courses: Reviewing paid courses is a lot more easier now. A simple drop-down allows you access to user and product analytics, among other things. The entire set up is on an open source e-commerce framework, called Oscar.
edX Insights: A feature that has been around for a while, this analytics edX section is now easier to run. Testing a course, evaluating its effectiveness are just a part of it. Sharing student data, their course assignment details, daily course enrollment, active students percentage, video-watching percentage are all filtered down to the minutest details (how many videos were watched end-to-end, etc), helping edX administrators and course authors gather a 360 degree comprehensive data view of the course.
'Search' is now default: The search feature is now default in Dogwood. It allows you to search all your courses in your course catalog, with an advanced search option allowing search with regard to course language, type (example: Video with transcript), etc.
Besides the features above, learners with Facebook or Google accounts can enroll into courses more easily, with social login being made easier to integrate. Features like 'Wiki Notifications', 'Studio Checklist', 'Legacy Instructor Dashboard' and 'Shoppingcart' are set to be removed in the next version release, presently deprecated in Dogwood. Several improvements to aid readability and navigability have been made. Learn more about Dogwood features here.