Making Open edX a Thriving Open Source Project (Stanford Report)

Skip to first unread message

Sef Kloninger

May 27, 2014, 3:15:30 AM5/27/14
Open edX Community -

June 1st marks the one year anniversary of the open source release of the edX platform. Stanford has been using our own Open edX instance since April 2013. We've successfully run twenty public MOOC's and many more courses for on-campus use. We have developed and contributed back many features to adapt the platform for our own pedagogical and research needs. As you can see in our just-published "Stanford Online 2013 In Review," Open edX is an important enabler of Stanford's online education efforts (see this announcement or download a PDF copy of the full report).

We would now like to see adoption of Open edX really take off. We believe Stanford has a useful vantage point to observe and comment on what is working, and what is not, in the open-source project.  We are sharing with this community our recommendations to improve governance, core technology, and community management.  We believe making these improvements will drive adoption amongst teachers, hosting providers, researchers, IT departments, and developers. Our recommendations are informed by interviews with a dozen stakeholders.

I invite you to read our findings and recommendations document in either Google Doc or plain HTML formats.  But for the impatient I've copy/pasted our twelve recommendations in the bottom of this mail.

Nate Aune, an experienced entrepreneur and open-source contributor, did the research for Stanford and authored the paper.  Thank you to Nate, the interviewees, and reviewers who made this happen. 

We look forward to ongoing work with the edX leadership and engineering team to improve open-source efforts and improve the platform.

- Sef Kloninger
  Head of Engineering, Stanford Online
  Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning


  • Clarify and communicate the mission of Open edX

  • Establish clear guidelines for contributors

  • Expand governance to involve community in technical and product decisions

Technical Improvements

  • Open up the development process: public wiki’s, public bug tracking

  • Move to 2-4 stable releases per year: release notes, upgrade scripts, improved packaging and testing

  • Provide more ways to extend and modify the platform without having to change the core: content interfaces and API’s

  • Improve the Open edX documentation

  • Create a more informative website targeted at platform adopters

  • Establish an ecosystem of commercial vendors and hosting providers

Community Building

  • Hire a full time Open edX community manager

  • Establish, measure, and communicate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  • Create forums to engage platform users (developers, hosting providers, researchers), e.g. user group meetings and office hours

Ned Batchelder

May 27, 2014, 11:41:46 AM5/27/14
Sef and Nate, thanks so much for this amazing report.  We've already started on some of these recommendations, and are continuing to work on others.  I'm always interested to hear people's ideas for how to make Open edX more successful.  We can't do all of them, but hearing from you is the best way to be sure we're on the right path.


Paul-Olivier Dehaye

May 27, 2014, 7:05:52 PM5/27/14
Thank you indeed to the Stanford group for starting this initiative, to Nate for the hard work and to edX for listening. 
A year ago pretty much to the day I seconded another professor who brought up the upcoming release of Open edX in a faculty meeting as something to watch. Since, I have spent
 - four months of anxious and difficult installation together with a core team of IT staff, 
 - four months of teaching with great students and assistants,
 - four months of advocacy/planning/grant writing/so many other things
There is a nice symmetry to all this. I can't wait to see what the next four months will bring.

Javier Ortega Conde (Malkavian)

May 28, 2014, 9:54:51 AM5/28/14

I think that one of the bigger problems is that it's not easy to install. Other web platforms (as wordpress) show a requisites before to be installed, and then you can download, uncompress, create database and ready to go. It's similar for LMS platforms as Chamilo or Canvas. For installing Open Edx you need a precise Ubuntu version, you have some automated scripts but that install and modify a LOT of things, and give various fails without being very informative, so is a process difficult to understand and repair. And if you get it finally installed you prefer not to touch or update it, just in case it breaks...

I'd love to use Edx, but when installation goes well, translation installation fails, or theme installation. It's a mess. I am thinking about maybe have to install worse, but more stable/understandable alternatives...

A compressed file, some requisites and some short instructions will be VERY MUCH appreciated.

Signed: A non-developer sysadmin getting crazy with openedx installation.

        Bye: Javier Ortega Conde (Malkavian)
Member of LinUxers Group from Bizkaia (GLUB)  
Member of Eghost, Itsas, Ether, GULA, GLUGI, Guardianes del Túmulo...
Microsoft is to operating systems and security what McDonald's to gourmet food and healthy nutrition. (Javier Ortega Conde (Malkavian))

Nate Aune

May 30, 2014, 10:43:06 AM5/30/14
Hi Javier,

I agree that the Open edX installation is a lot more complicated than it needs to be. Making it easier to get started with Open edX is one of my top priorities. One thing that I've been looking at is putting together some cloud images, so that you could launch Open edX with one-click on various cloud providers (not just AWS). Would that be helpful for you, or are you talking mainly about getting it running on your local development machine?


Javier Ortega Conde (Malkavian)

May 30, 2014, 4:24:02 PM5/30/14

I am running it in my own server. I tried first to install it in the Debian (assuming it's similar to Ubuntu) I have in it, but it was failing to much, I solved some things but there are too many...
So I had to make a virtual machine with KVM and install Open Edx on an Ubuntu server. Having a KVM image ready for KVM will be great, but the  the big step would be to make a stable release in a tar.gz compatible with Ubuntu server and certain packages requirements. And also think about opening the compatibility to other GNU/Linux flavours. Ubuntu is not the most used for servers and obviously not the only.

Today, after some weeks I think I got it, but when installing Stanford theme, the spanish translation is lost at Studio, and it is in english again. I have been fighting for weeks with the installation, and created 3 virtual machines and clonated two of them 5 times for trying...

        Bye: Javier Ortega Conde (Malkavian)
Member of Go Club of Bilbao (GoBi)
Member of GLUB, Eghost, Itsas, Aske, Guardianes del Túmulo...

Oct 10, 2018, 9:42:33 AM10/10/18
to General Open edX discussion
how to add fields in OpenEdx python file

John Mark Walker

Oct 10, 2018, 10:28:53 AM10/10/18
to General Open edX discussion

When responding on mailing lists, please make sure to use a subject line related to the topic you wish to discuss.

I've taken the liberty of adjusting the subject line here and deleting the extraneous information you replied to. 

Please also include relevant information in the body of your email response so that others can help you. 


company co

Oct 11, 2018, 3:03:14 AM10/11/18
HI sir
   subject :- Open Edx school page customization

            I want add some fields in edx site , To do that what possible way to add the fields in the Open exd platform . Please give solution sir.
Best Regards
Akshay Raikar

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "General Open edX discussion" group.
To view this discussion on the web visit
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages