After 2 years, we returned to the Open edX Conference in person from April 26th to 29th and this not only means having been in close contact with the work of the open-source community but also the possibility of meeting talented people who have a lot to teach about development and new trends that we work with daily.
At eduNEXT we are proud to have been one of the main sponsors and speakers during the event, as we were able to learn firsthand about the new developments being developed and talk about our contributions.
The event focused on the projections that shape the future of education. It explored how open technology can be leveraged to enhance skills, empower and provide learning experiences worldwide. Through plenaries, talks, and hands-on workshops, topics were grouped into:
Integrations and extensions
Pedagogy and Pedagogical Design
Platform and product
Open edX community working groups
Open edX Next Steps
The annual conference was opened with a keynote address by tCRIL’s VP of Engineering, Ed Zarecor, and tCRIL’s Product Manager, Jenna Makowski, who discussed the current state of Open edX and its upcoming plans. Similarly, edX founder and current 2U Director of Education, Anant Agarwal, participated in this opening to provide updates related to the post-edX/2U acquisition and the newly-created non-profit organization, the Center for Reimagining Learning (tCRIL), which has the mission to develop and maintain the open-source platform for online courses with global reach.
During this and other interventions, it was highlighted that the Open edX platform is committed to improving the student experience and facilitating access to education on an ever-increasing scale. In addition, some specific objectives that have been set for the coming years are:
-Continue to offer a wide range of courses, across all disciplines
-Increase the number of non-English speaking courses available
-Launch affordable and scalable master’s and bachelor’s degrees
-Provide accessibility features for students with disabilities
-Continue to support the learning research community -Continue to support the learning research community
-Protect intellectual property rights
-Maintaining the quality of new courses
On the other hand, the work of 2U together with edX was highlighted, which is in pursuit of continuous improvement of the platform with new projects and implementations being targeted. The main part of their strategy at the moment is the pursuit of student personalization, which they are building through:
-Itineraries of possible programs for an integrated learning path on the platform
-Recommendations of catalogs that may be of interest according to the learner’s profile
-Discovery in gamification to provide a greater experience
-Compatibility with the dark mode in its mobile version, as some social networks already do today.
Contributions of eduNEXT
eduNext, being one of the main collaborators in the Open edX community, has participated in and led different projects that not only allow us to contribute to the constant improvement of the platform but also position us as a reference in the industry.
One of the outstanding interventions we made was addressed in the talk Extending the Open edX Platform through the Open edX Events and Filters framework, made by María José Grimaldi, Backend Developer, and Felipe Montoya, Co-Founder and CTO of eduNEXT, which explains the development of Hooks for events and filters:
The Hooks framework is a mechanism to extend open edX without modifying the central repository of the platform. It works pervasively for student and author interactions. It is designed to be used through open edX plugins without sacrificing the ability to test integration with different versions of open. Its importance lies in the fact that it allows the collection of information reliably and automatically.
Among the events and filters added and available in open edX are the following:
On the other hand, Scott Dunn, Head of Engineering at Pearson Advance, and Felipe Montoya talked about Course Licensing with the Open edX Platform. Considering that the software supports B2C, B2B, and B2I (business to institution) delivery models. Still, the B2I use case has not been as common and therefore not as developed. Work has been done on extensions and enhancements focused on this aspect. Therefore, this talk provided an overview of the capabilities that were built, on and off the platform using existing and new APIs.
In the previous process, the license application was connected to the view and not to the model. Therefore, this new proposal will allow a higher quality control in the process. The main objectives of this project are to create and update all current resources, generate information for the operations team, make the license application at the institution manager level and produce reports on ccx and master courses.
In addition, Daniel Quiroga, developer of eduNEXT, participated in the Lightning Talks – Extensions and Integrations, where he spoke about enabling multilingual course content. In this intervention, he addressed the possibility of automatic translation of content based on Blockstore, a system for creating, discovering, and reusing educational material for Open edX.
Considering that there are more than 40 million edX students and more than 60 million people learning in an Open edX instance in the world, this becomes a necessity. Therefore, this proposal, although posing some challenges, represents a strong and viable option to provide greater access to education on a global scale.
Finally, we emphasize that having the opportunity to meet in person with all those who attended the conference was an experience full of emotions and inspiration to continue working for the future of education. We reaffirm that every day is a new opportunity to continue developing Open edX and to learn about new resources that allow constant improvement. For this reason, we still cherish our motto: Forever beta, forever next. We are all constantly learning and integrating advances in technologies.
We would like to thank the organizers, attendees, and the entire Open edX community for making this congregation possible and for allowing us to reaffirm our mission of advancing online education.
Let’s keep working together for the future of education!