An Open edX XBlock to Load Content from a Jupyter Notebook

George Washington University’s Professor Lorena Barba has announced the release of the Jupyter Viewer XBlock for the Open edX platform. This tool, developed in collaboration with IBL Education, allows to dynamically display content from a Jupyter notebook available on a public URL. It is available now as open source software on GitHub.

Prof. Barba used the XBlock in the second half of her course module, Get Data Off The Ground with Python.

“Jupyter is a killer app for education. Many people are writing lessons, tutorials, whole courses and even books using Jupyter. It is a new genre of an open educational resource (OER). What if you want to create an online course on Open edX using content originally written as a Jupyter notebook? You certainly don’t want to duplicate the content, much less copy-and-paste. This XBlock allows you to embed the content dynamically from a notebook available on a public URL,” said Prof. Lorena Barba.

“This is the first of a series of integrations between Jupyter Notebooks and Open edX. It takes care of the code visualization problem, especially that which distinguishes between inputs and outputs,” said Miguel Amigot, CTO at IBL Education.

Along with this XBlock, Lorena Barba and Miguel Amigot will present during the 2018 Open edX conference (May 29-31, Montreal, Canada), a solution for grading student work submitted as an uploaded notebook.




Harvard and Microsoft Test Adaptive Learning for the Open edX Platform

An adaptive learning architecture for the Open edX platform has been tested in the last months by a research group led by Harvard University and Microsoft.

This project, called ALOSI (Adaptive Learning Open Source Initiative), is based on creating an open source adaptive engine powering individualized learning and assessment pathways. This software includes the Bridge for Adaptivity and the ALOSI adaptive engine, two applications supporting a common framework for experimentation that integrates several modular components.

The ALOSI architecture integrates seamlessly via LTI with edX, Canvas and other LMS’s as well as independently with content repositories.  ALOSI uses Bayesian Knowledge Tracing—a  machine learning algorithm—to power the individualized pathways.

During the 2018 Open edX Conference, Andrew Ang, a research data engineer from Harvard University, will show this modular architecture for adaptive learning.

Mr. Ang will demonstrate the use of this system with the Microsoft MOOC on edX, “Essential Statistics for Data Analysis Using Excel”, and how the mentioned research group used various advanced features of Open EdX (LTI provider, course blocks API, import/export, content experiments).

Some of the of Most Innovative Sessions at the 2018 Open edX Conference

The 2018 Open edX conference schedule was finally disclosed this week, with workshops intended for beginners and advanced users, either in academia, enterprise or educational organizations. This is the URL,

Some of the of most innovative sessions will be the following:


• IBL: Open edX 2018 Conference Speaker Schedule Released

edX Releases the Hawthorn Beta Version of the Open edX Platform

edX released this week a beta version of the Hawthorn Open edX platform. Its branch name is open-release/hawthorn.beta1.

This beta version is based on edX code master branches of April 18. Essentially, it provides developers a marked version to test installation and migration of the code, which the edX organization encourages to do as a way to get feedback.

The release candidate of the Hawthorn Open edX software is now officially expected by the end of May, ready for the Open edX developers conference, scheduled for May 29-31 in Montreal, Canada.



Hey all,

The first test release of Hawthorn is now available. “open-release/hawthorn.beta1” is the branch name. It is based on the master branches as of April 18.
We’re doing this a little differently than previous releases.  This is not a release candidate: we have not made the hawthorn.master branches yet.  There is more work we want to get onto master before creating the true Hawthorn branches.  This beta gives people access to a marked version they can use to test installation and migration, while there is still plenty of time for us to address issues.
There are some things that are not ready yet:
  • We don’t have consolidated release notes of what is new since Ginkgo
  • We don’t have Docker images yet, so there is no devstack support.  We’re working on building those images in the next few weeks.
  • We don’t have updated documentation
As a reminder: in Hawthorn and beyond, devstack will be based on Docker, and fullstack is gone.
We expect to have a Hawthorn release candidate by the end of May.
Please try out this code, and let us know what you find.  There is a #hawthorn-beta channel in Slack, or you can reply here.

An Ethics Course for Artificial Intelligence Developers

Finally a course about ethics on Artificial Intelligence!

Microsoft has launched on edX “Ethics and law in data and analytics”, a six-week, self-paced, free course to learn how to apply ethical and legal frameworks to initiatives in the data profession.

This edX course, which is part of the Microsoft Professional Program in Artificial Intelligence, will allow students to explore practical approaches to data and analytics problems posed by work in Big Data, Data Science, and AI.

Also, they will be able to investigate applied data methods for ethical and legal work in Analytics and AI.

IBL Newsletter #4 about Open edX | April 2018: Hawthorn, Conference, NVIDIA…


• edX announced that the Hawthorn Open edX release will happen this May, after four months of delay.

• The Open edX 2018 Conference speaker schedule (May 29-31, Montreal) has been announced.

• The NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) launched a deeply integrated, distributed and built-to-scale Open edX ecosystem with custom labs for certified instructor-led training and self-paced courses.

• Over 5,000 students (3,000 Boeing employees) have completed the Architecture and Systems Engineering course series developed by MITx in collaboration with Boeing and edX.

• Professor Lorena Barba, from GW, announced an open online course on computing for engineers: Get Data Off The Ground with Python on the GW Engineering platform.

• edCast redefined its commercial focus, transitioning from an Open edX hosting company into a marketplace for corporate learning content providers.

• CEO of edX, Anant Agarwal, suggested to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to tie federal financial aid to new credentials in education such as MicroMasters and professional certificates rather than traditional on-campus degrees.

 edX partnered with Microsoft and General Electric to provide Massachusetts residents with subsidized online courses and guaranteed job interviews.

• Global Knowledge launched its learning platform with over 100 on-demand courses. This platform is a heavily customized solution with the Open edX version at its core.

• Bitnami launched a new version of the Open edX platform based on the ginkgo.2 version.

• The Linux Foundation passed the one million mark for people trained at

• Frontline Systems launched Solver.Academy, an Open edX-based online learning platform.

• Bibblio, a platform which provides course recommendations, developed the Bibblio XBlock with Proversity educational consultant.


The IBL Newsletter about Open edX is a topic-curated email report compiled by Michael Amigot, Founder at IBL Education, a New York City-based company that builds data-driven learning platform and courses with Open edX. If you enjoy what you read please consider forwarding it to spread the word. Click here to subscribe.

Newsletter #3 November 2017
Newsletter #2 Octubre 2017
Newsletter #1 Sept 2017

Read also the IBL Newsletter on Learning Innovation

The Hawthorn Open edX Release Plan Will Start This Month

edX finally announced that the Hawthorn Open edX release process will start next week, with the creation of Hawthorn.1 Beta 1.

Before issuing the first release candidate of the Hawthorn code, edX plans to add underpinnings that support the new European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, scheduled to take effect on May 25th.

“Once enough GDPR support has landed, we will create the Hawthorn master branches from master, and release a first Hawthorn.1 release candidate,” edX engineer Ned Batchelder explained in the General Open edX discussion forum at Google.

“This means that features can shift or be added between Beta 1 and RC 1.  The Beta will be for testing the general upgrade paths and functionality of the code that has been written since Ginkgo was cut nine months ago.  I want to get that code into testers hands sooner rather than later, even if it means that there could still be significant changes in Hawthorn,” he added.

Another reason for this additional delay has been the upgrade from Django 1.8 to Django 1.11, which has already been completed.

Hawthorn will be the eighth release of the Open edX platform, replacing the existing Ginkgo version. It was scheduled for December 2018, according to the announcement made during the Open edX 2017 Conference in Madrid.

Open edX 2018 Conference Speaker Schedule Released

The edX organization has started to release details regarding the upcoming Open edX 2018 conference speaker schedule.

“Here are just a few of our favorites you won’t want to miss,” says edX.

  • “Using neuroscience to evaluate the influence of media richness on the cognitive and emotional engagement in MOOCs”, by Pierre-Majorique Léger of HEC Montréal.
  • “Gamification in Learning” by José Antonio González Rodriguez of Proversity.
  • “Lessons Learned from Launching a Global Enterprise Learning Platform Based on Open edX”, by Michelle Lockard, Director of Product, Global Knowledge & Miguel Amigot, Chief Technology Officer, IBL Education & Paul Tocatlian, Director of Engineering, Global Knowledge.
  • “Building an online M.S. with Open edX”, by Elliott Visconsi of the University of Notre Dame.

The fifth Open edX conference is scheduled for May 29-31 in Montreal, Canada.



Open edX Hosting Provider Refocuses Into a Cloud Content Company

EdCast, a Mountain View-based educational platform start-up, has redefined its commercial focus, transitioning from an Open edX hosting company into a knowledge cloud solution for workforce upskilling, and launched a marketplace for corporate learning content providers called ContentExchange.

According to the company, partners in this marketplace include, Regis Group, Harvard ManageMentor, Mandel Communications, Intuition and Capella University, among others.

ContentExchange uses an AI-powered engine to maximize the relevance and timeliness of content.

Regarding the participation of edX, Lee Rubenstein, Vice President of Business Development at edX, said: “edX is proud to be one of EdCast’s ContentExchange partners, making our unique library of valuable content available to the marketplace, so we can continue to provide innovative solutions in meeting corporate learning needs.”

“We launched the ContentExchange to provide a marketplace for leading global organizations to upskill their team members, allowing them to discover and connect with leading content providers from around the world,” said Karl Mehta, Founder and CEO of EdCast.


Berkeley Launches Online For Free Its Foundations of Data Science Program

With more than 1,000 students enrolling every semester since its creation in 2015, Foundations of Data Science, the fastest-growing course in the history of UC Berkeley, has been launched online for free this April on

This course at California’s flagship public university , titled Data 8X: Foundations of Data Science, will cover everything from testing hypotheses, applying statistical interferences, visualizing distributions and drawing conclusions, all while coding in Python and using real-world data sets.

It will be a sequence of three five-week courses taught by three winners of Berkeley’s top teaching honor: the Distinguished Teaching Award: DeNero, statistics professor Ani Adhikari and computer science professor David Wagner. “Our goal is to bring data science to the widest possible audience,” said Adhikari.


Berkeley said that each course takes 5 to 6 weeks, with an investment of 4 to 6 hours per week, per course. Learners who want to earn the certificate will need to pay only $357 for the entire program.