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edX E-Learning Course
Design, develop, and deploy an interactive and
informative MOOC course for the edX platform
Matthew A. Gilbert
BIRMINGHAM - MUMBAI
edX E-Learning Course Development
Copyright © 2015 Packt Publishing
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First published: May 2015
Production reference: 1270515
Published by Packt Publishing Ltd.
35 Livery Street
Birmingham B3 2PB, UK.
Matthew A. Gilbert
Rogério Theodoro de Brito
Dr. Carla Lane
Santhosh Kumar T
Content Development Editor
About the Author
Matthew A. Gilbert, MBA, is a business professor and corporate trainer with
extensive experience as a writer, marketer, and speaker. He's guided by the motto
"learn continuously, live generatively."
Skilled in learning management systems such as Blackboard, Canvas, eCollege, edX,
and Moodle, he develops and teaches communication, management, and marketing
courses for adult learners online, on campus, and in blended learning environments. In
corporate settings, he conducts business communication, decision-making, and social
media marketing workshops. Having embraced an opportunity overseas, Matthew
now teaches undergraduates at a university in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
A tech-savvy writer, his first book, edX E-Learning Course Development, was published
for educators with the aim of designing, developing, and deploying MOOC courses
on the edX platform. He has also authored scholarly papers, feature articles, and
Doctorious—a blog about his adventures in academia. He is an unrepentant fan of
the Oxford comma; the semicolon is another one of his guilty pleasures.
As a marketer and consultant, Matthew has managed people, products, and projects
in the education, entertainment, medical device, nonprofit, publishing, travel, and
technology sectors. Recognized for his knowledge of social media marketing, he
has been called upon to provide expert witness testimony for lawsuits and related
A charismatic speaker, Matthew uses sincerity, humor, and storytelling to connect
with audiences; education, leadership, management, social media, and technology
are his main topics. Be sure to ask him about his signature speech called Superman:
Manager of Steel.
When asked why teaching is his tenure, he explains, "I embrace education as my
profession because it empowers me to help shape the lives of others, while giving
my own life greater meaning."
For more information about Matthew, you can visit his website at
matthewagilbert.com, connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/
matthewagilbert, or follow him on Twitter at @MatthewAGilbert.
This book was written over many months and a multitude of
miles: from California to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, and even
38,000 feet above the Arctic Circle on an Emirates Airbus A380!
However, without the insight, input, and inspiration from the
following individuals, this book wouldn't have happened.
To each of you and to those whom I might have inadvertently
not included, I extend my heartfelt gratitude. Thank you!
Binny K. Babu
Rae Lynn Estrada
Santhosh Kumar T.
Satinder K. Dhiman
Saunya Berger McDaniel
John K. Rounds
Sharon Dunigan Jumper
Mario A. González
About the Reviewers
Rogério Theodoro de Brito has a BSc in computer science and an MSc in
computational biology, both from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Academically,
he likes graph theory, combinatorial optimization, and discrete mathematics. He
teaches various subjects in computer science and IT at Mackenzie Presbyterian
University, São Paulo, and is an enthusiast of both education (MOOCs in particular)
and free software.
Rogério has been contributing to the Debian project (debian.org) since 2005
and has been an official Debian maintainer since 2008, maintaining about
20 software packages (also available for the popular Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint).
At the intersection of MOOCs, education, and free software, he is the coauthor
of coursera-dl (https://github.com/coursera-dl/coursera) and edx-dl
(https://github.com/shk3/edx-downloader), which are designed to facilitate
learners to access the course material from Coursera and edX respectively.
You can see his blog at http://cynic.cc/blog/.
Danea Johnson is a communications and sales specialist in the technology
field with 5 years of higher education, leadership, and experience in curriculum
development. She developed her love for teaching during her first part-time job as a
gymnastics instructor at the age of 14. Later, she spent years assisting in instructional
technology for diverse groups at several educational institutions, ranging from
arts students from universities to impoverished high-school students with learning
difficulties. Danea enjoys being creative, getting to know people and how they learn,
and finding new ways to communicate and teach things that impact lives.
I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Gilbert for being incredibly warm
and welcoming, providing me with his advice as I sought after my
own career goals, and for granting me the opportunity to take part in
this wonderful project.
Dr. Carla Lane has an extensive background in distance learning and the evaluation
of mediated educational programs. She is the executive director of The Education
Coalition, a nonprofit group that provides educational evaluation services for districts,
universities, and other entities requiring local, state, and national evaluations. She has
been extensively involved in the field of education through her research in distance
learning. Her work has been published in many research reports and journals. Carla
has authored three textbooks on educational technology and distance learning. Now,
she conducts research in online instructional strategies for men and women in active
military and veterans and their spouses for the Federal Government Distance Learning
Association (FGDLA), where she is the vicepresident of the higher education sector.
Carla was recently named a Research Fellow by the University of Phoenix, and
conducts research in online mentoring at the doctoral level. This research is part
of a grant from the university. She has taught online for the university since 1991
and has received the Quality Award for her work.
For 15 years, Carla was with WestEd—a regional educational laboratory—as a
senior researcher. She was also the project director of the Star Schools dissemination
project—the Distance Learning Resource Network (DLRN).
She is a master trainer in distance learning for UCLA and teaches in several doctoral
programs that involve specialization in educational technology and instructional
design for online learning. She has written for, and has been funded for grants
through, Star Schools, PBS Mathline and PBS TeacherLine, Challenge, NTIA,
TIIAP, the California Department of Education, the California Community College
Chancellor's Office, the United States Department of Justice, the Los Angeles County
Office of Education, and NASA.
Carla earned a doctorate in education (educational leadership research design/
statistics, adult education, and educational technology) from the University of
Missouri-St. Louis, an MA in mass communication from Webster University,
and a Bachelor of Science in English from Washington University, St. Louis,
Missouri. She also holds a degree in broadcast engineering.
Santhosh Kumar T. has spent more than a decade exploring the nuances of the
online learning environment. Currently a learning consultant at Dexler Information
Solutions, he uses his rich experience to help train managers so that they can
understand which solution works best for them.
A commerce graduate from Bangalore University, Santhosh followed his passion for
multimedia, beginning as a novice learner and progressing to an expert, with a wide
range of technical qualifications that span the spectrum of content development. His
strength lies in being a self-starter who needs no external motivation to learn new
technologies. He uses his knowledge of various content authoring tools and couples
it with interactive multimedia design to create engaging content for his organization.
Santhosh has worked with companies such as Purpleframe Technologies, Epiance,
and Mentorware India. He is an avid reader who loves to spend his free time reading
and listening to music—both oldies and the latest tracks. Nonetheless, it is just as
much a holiday for him to spend his time learning what the world is doing in the
field of online education and coming back with ideas in this field.
Dexler Information Solutions is a learning solutions provider that leverages technology
to enable companies and institutions to manage and enhance their knowledge pool.
Dexler's endeavor has been to provide strategic educational services and products,
developed on robust delivery platforms using innovative learning enablers. Dexler
is recognized for offering customized learning content in a flexible framework for
individual learning, corporate education, and community training. It has evolved
from an instructor-led training (ILT) organization to a complete integrated learning
solutions provider. Dexler believes in being gamechangers for their customers and
providing customized solutions that enhance their businesses.
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This book is dedicated to my sons, Jacob and Max. You are my greatest teachers,
my favorite students, and my most edXceptional inspirations!
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Getting Started
edX's potential and purpose
Growth of the MOOC market
The emergence of Open edX
Emerging educational opportunities
The impact of edX
The foundation and future of edX
Your role and responsibilities
Creating your edX account
Exploring edX courses
Finding courses by navigating
Finding courses by searching
Finding courses by viewing all courses
Finding courses by home page
Finding courses by refining your search
Signing up for Studio
Creating your course 31
Characteristics of your course
Public Studio Sandbox
Table of Contents
Chapter 2: Planning the Curriculum
edX Course Matrix
edX Course Matrix data
edX Course Matrix details
The About page
About pages across edX versions
Long course descriptions
Short course descriptions
Frequently Asked Questions
Other course information
Exercises and assessments
Textbooks and course materials
The course Wiki
The course certificate
Chapter 3: Producing Videos
Chapter 4: Designing Exercises
Video production pointers
Seven video production strategies
Video post-production processes
Reducing the video file size
edX video specifications
Transcripts for your videos
YouTube best practices
The student view of problem components
The studio view of problem components
Editing problem components
Creating problems with edX's editors
Exercises and tools
General exercises and tools
Image-based exercises and tools
[ ii ]
Table of Contents
Multiple-choice exercises and tools
STEM exercises and tools
Chapter 5: Integrating the Curriculum
Your course outline
Advanced video options
Moving a video component
Deleting a video component
Updates and Handouts
Chapter 6: Administering Your Course
Assigning cohorts automatically
Assigning cohorts manually
Assigning cohorts with a CSV file
More about Beta Testers
Adding an individual Beta Tester
Adding multiple Beta Testers
Removing Beta Testers
[ iii ]
Table of Contents
Exporting and importing a course
Exporting a course
Importing a course
Building and running an edX course
Launching your course
Chapter 7: Facilitating Your Course
Chapter 8: Promoting Your Course
Notify students by e-mail
Messages to students
Traditional marketing tools
edX's marketing options
Social media marketing