Background

In 2013, The University of Queensland (UQ) entered a partnership with edX for hosting MOOCs. Part of this agreement allowed UQ to use the Edge platform, which as an instance of edX for delivery of up to 50 Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs), generally for internal use. Following the popularity of UQ’s MOOCs, the VC asked ITaLI to start placing undergraduate course content into the edX platform to leverage some of the lessons from UQ’s investment in edX. The initial advantage of the edX platform was how it could be used to create scaffolded learning experiences for students, through a guided ‘learning journey’ with progress tracking, and the ability to co-locate a range of rich media and activities in sequence.

Subsequently, in support of learning innovation it was decided that Edge could also be used to design, build and host bespoke UQ learning technologies, and this would be greatly enhanced by UQ acquiring and hosting its own instance of the Open edX platform. Later still the uptake of Edge meant we had reached the limit of its licencing allowance. 

Over the last eighteen months, UQ embarked on a project to deploy its own unlimited instance of Open edX, called LearnX. The initial focus for LearnX was to deliver wholly online and blended learning experiences to UQ students that will host innovations and experiments in bespoke learning technology, and the delivery of alternative credentials and facilitate strategic partnership opportunities.

Pilot feedback

In Summer Semester 2021, the LearnX platform was piloted with approximately 700 Economic students. The aim of this pilot was to evaluate the stability and performance of the platform and establish robust operational support. The feedback from users so far indicated that the LearnX platform is stable and almost identical to the original edX (Edge) Platform.

What is happening now?

The growing uptake of edX (Edge) meant we had reached the limit of its licencing allowance. To ensure UQ does not breach the agreement on the use Edge platform (currently capped at 50 concurrent courses that can be run), all SI-net courses with edX (Edge) site contents will now be moved to the new LearnX platform.

A phased approach is being adopted to manage the migration workload and reduce any teaching disruption, technical and operational risks arising from this transition. Given the varied nature of how courses are delivered across the different disciplines and schools, Non SI-net courses will not be migrated to the new platform in Semester 1, 2022 allowing additional review and consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

What is the impact of change for staff and students?

It is anticipated that there will be some small impacts (e.g. normal requirement to update links) but largely users will find the environment is similar to edX (Edge), but with some new features and capabilities:

  • Students and staff are provided with UQ-branded interface.
  • Single sign-on capability providing seamless user experience for staff and students.
  • Removes the contractual limit on the number or types of courses as imposed by edX (Edge).
  • Unified integration with UQ IT system and processes.
  • Allows further customisation of the LearnX course site.
  • Provides an innovative space to foster transformational teaching and learning e.g. alternative credentials.

The project’s next phase will focus on leveraging in-house and partnered opportunities to provide more digital learning features and seamless integrations.

How the LearnX project is being communicated?

  • Email sent to relevant course coordinators on the 7th and 10th January 2022
  • Email regarding LearnX update sent to LDC & ELOF community on the 13th January 2022  
  • Articles regarding this project have been featured regularly in the Teaching and eLearning News newsletter to all teaching staff.
  • Workshops have been advertised to inform the UQ community of LearnX features.
  • A project page is created to inform stakeholders.
  • Updates have been given at the eLearning Operational Forum (eLOF) for faculty learning designers.
  • eLearning support teams updates (Library, ITaLI, ITS etc) .
  • Dedicated updated to Library support teams via AskUs.
  • Updates to Associate Dean's Academic at Digital Learning Sub-Committee (DLSC).

What support is available for LearnX?

Staff technical support is available as are staff professional development workshops. LearnX support has be incorporated into the eLearning support standard services, including:

Support for updating content in LearnX course sites is available through attending one of the workshops above, or through local school/faculty learning designers, or through an application to the ITaLI Digital Uplift service.