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The edX Platform

What is the Technology?

The edX platform is built on a Django-based, Python back end, and relies heavily on Javascript on the client side to minimize load on the servers and network traffic. Assets are generally encoded using XML, but authoring tools will eventually shield most instructors from this level of detail.

The architecture is designed to be modular, readily enabling new components to be developed and plugged in. Current interfaces will continue to evolve and mature. For example, an interface for plugging in custom autograders is already in use by two Berkeley courses.

Once the code has reached a sufficient level of stability, it will be open sourced. We are investigating how to support local use of edX (for internal courses, etc.) without requiring instructors to install or deploy their own instances of the platform.

What Tools are available?


EdX Studio (watch this space for imminent release details) is a course authoring environment with a friendly graphical user interface. You can upload and arrange your lectures into logical units, create quizzes and other assessments, post course materials, and so on.

Watch this space for details on how to use it and pointers to tutorials.


Video content is hosted on Youtube. This is likely to change soon, because YouTube is not available in China.

Video can be captured in a number of ways. The segmentation of lectures into discrete 10-15 minute blocks is encouraged in order to facilitate the learner feedback cycle and greater comprehension of the material.

The post-processing of video content will be handled by edX staff for courses or at Berkeley for Labs courses. This work involves cleaning up, labeling, and editing the video for quality of presentation. It is then installed on servers and streamed. It is expected that post-processing eventually will be distributed among various participating edX institutions.


There are assessment modules that include multiple-choice, mathematical problem solutions, or equation entry. Mathematical equations are rendered using mathjax.

Questions can be generated at a sufficiently large enough volume to ensure randomization.

There is a module designed specifically for simulating the development of circuit boards, and there are efforts to create a parallel capability for software courses.


The discussion software is a variant of an open-source product called AskBot. It is now undergoing significant changes and may be replaced completely.


The wiki on the edX platform (not to be confused with the wiki you're reading now) is open to student-authored content, and typically contains reference material and links amplifying other course content.

Other Authoring Tools

A collection of other authoring tools, usually developed by individual instructors to fill a specific need, are also being made available. These are generally less polished than the Studio authoring environment, and/or may require some more sophisticated computer skills to use (think of them as “do-it-yourselfer” tools).

Currently available:

  • latex2edx - author questions using the LaTeX markup language, generate XML that can be imported into Studio
  • quiz - author questions using a domain-specific language embedded in Ruby, generate either XML for Studio import or a printable quiz for in-classroom use (with or without solution keys)
technology.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/28 17:02 (external edit)