6. Components, Grading, Pages, Cohorts and Discussions


Section 1: HTML

HTML is one of the four components, along with Discussions, Problems and Video, within units or learning sequences.

HTML is both the most basic content type and the most versatile. You can add rich text, images, links, Frames with ungraded exercises, etc.

Good examples of HTML components are Google Instant Hangout Tool and dynamic HTML calendar.

Section 2: Discussion

Instructors can add discussion components to a unit to pose questions and give learners a chance to respond and interact on a specific subject.

It is recommended to add an HTML component before each discussion component to introduce the topic.

Section 3: Grading

Establishing a grading policy requires you to set a grade range, grade period, configure the assignment types and grade subsections.

  • To set a grade range from the Settings menu on Studio, select “Grading”. If you plan for your course to offer certificates, note that a learner will quality for a certificate by earning any grade over the F, or Fail, threshold.
  • You can set a grace period that extends homework due dates for your learners. The grace period applies to the whole course; you cannot set a grace period for individual assignments.
  • You must create assignment types for your course and determine the weight of the total grade for each assignment, as well as its due date.

By default, a new course has the following four assignment types: Homework, Lab, Midterm Exam and Final Exam.

After a grading policy is in place learners will be able to view their problem scores, percent completion rate and current grade in the “Progress” tab for the course.

Section 4: Course Updates and Pages

The Open edX platform allows you to add course updates and handouts in Studio. Learners will see them on the Course Info page within the course in the LMS.

Every course includes these pages by default:

  • Courseware
  • Course info
  • Discussion
  • Wiki
  • Progress

Instructors can change the order of the Discussion, Wiki and Progress tabs, and hide the Wiki page.

In addition, they can add PDF textbooks –a separate PDF for each chapter– and pages to their course. Each page appears for learners in the navigation bar.

Section 5: Cohorts

Targeted content can be delivered to learners in a cohort. In addition, segmented discussions enable smaller, more personal conversations.

The Open edX platform allows you to set up cohorts in your course by creating smaller communities or designing different course experiences for different groups of learners.

In discussion topics that are divided by cohort, learners can also communicate and share experiences privately within the cohort that they are assigned to. This will help learners develop a sense of community, provide specialized experiences, and encourage deeper, more meaningful course involvement.

Note that every learner must be assigned to a single cohort, either automatically or manually.

Section 6: Managing Course Discussions

All courses include a page named “Discussion”

The discussion forum is a critical tool for successfully running a MOOC as it allows for substantive community development. Course staff is key to effectively manage this online community.

  • Instructors can set up different discussion topics in Studio to guide interaction with learners, share and exchange views, ask questions and develop course community. Discussions are also excellent sources of ideas and feedback.
  • Discussions include course-related topics as well as announcements, feedback, troubleshooting and technical help. 
  • There are three hierarchical levels of interactions in a discussion: post, response and comment.A post opens a new subject and can be added as a Question or as a Discussion to start a conversation.

  • Course teams, members and learners can be given permission to moderate or administer course discussions.

    It is recommended that tags be used in the subject of a post to be able to search discussions more effectively –i.g. [OFFICIAL], [CORRECTIONS].
  • Moderating a discussion allows functionalities such as: pin a post, endorse a response, mark a question as answered, close a post, provide with guidelines.

Keeping up-to-date with a large MOOC’s forum requires a commitment of five or more hours per week, and involves reading threads, replying to and editing posts, and communicating with the rest of the discussion administration team.

Use this template to develop guidelines for your course moderators,