NVIDIA Launches its Deep Learning Institute on the Open edX Platform to Train Engineers

The NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) launched this week during its annual GTC conference in San Jose, California, a deeply integrated, distributed and built-to-scale Open edX ecosystem with custom labs for certified instructor-led training and self-paced courses.

The first course, Fundamentals of Deep Learning for Computer Vision, was opened on Sunday 25 during an eight hour, face-to-face training session for three hundred learners who used the edX code-based platform for assessments, exercises and laboratories while interacting in the room with peers and teacher assistants.

NVIDIA engineer and educator Mike Mendelson taught, along with two dozen assistants, this hands-on workshop, developed with the goal of providing the basics of deep learning by training and deploying neural networks.

A second course, Fundamentals of Accelerated Computing with CUDA C/C++, was also offered during the same day. Students learned, practiced and got certified on CUDA’s tools and techniques to accelerate CPU-only applications to run on massively parallel GPUs.

This uniquely blended model was praised by participants, mostly engineers, as a highly effective and engaging method of training. NVIDIA partnered with IBL Education to develop, scale and maintain the platform.

The two courses remained open as part of NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Institute’s catalog. In the following weeks, it will be enhanced with video lectures and other learning resources for tens of courses.

The Deep Learning Institute (DLI) currently offers hands-on training in deep learning and accelerated computing self-paced courses and instructor-led workshops designed to solve real-world problems.

DLI provides learners with a fully configured, GPU-accelerated workstation in the cloud, complete with software tools, neural networks, and datasets.

Update from our CTO, Miguel Amigot, one week after its release:

Newsletter About Open edX #1 – September 2017

Welcome to our newsletter on Open edX. After 500+ news posts and four years writing about the Open edX and edX universe, I’ve decided to launch a monthly newsletter with the must-read stories in this topic. Click here to subscribe. Feel free to share your thoughts! 



• Gingko. The edX organization released Ginkgo, the latest Open edX version of the platform. Ginkgo is the seventh release of Open edX, and includes changes to the course navigation, video player, proctored exams, accessibility, emails and problems.

• We’re UBER. Interesting definition of edX. “In many ways, you can think of edX as an Uber for education”, said Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, during the a webinar hosted by EdCast.

• iOS, Android. The 2.10 Open edX and edX’s app for iOS and Android came up with two new features which allow learners to access all course videos in one place as well as delete downloaded clips.

• MicroMasters. edX’s MicroMasters initiative celebrated its first anniversary this September with the extension of the program to 39 subjects from 24 international universities. Top employers (IBM, GE, Boeing, Walmart, Adobe, Ford, PwC…) endorsed this program.

• Open edX Courses. The “Freshman Year for Free” program, a non-profit initiative done in partnership with edX and IBL, launched a catalog of 40 online College Board CLEP courses on an Open edX platform. The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets praised the project.

• France. France University Numerique (FUN), the French national MOOC platform and the first national platform using Open edX, reached an agreement with edX.org to share course content and strengthen its partnership.

• Top 10. Nine of the world’s top 10 universities use the Open edX pedagogy and technology on their courses at edX.org, and one (Stanford) has its own independent instance.

• MITx. MITx will launch 30 MOOCs at edx.org this fall. These MOOCs, which allow learners to get an MITx certificate as a credential, will feature the same content as on-campus courses.

• Hiring. edX started looking for an Open edX Community Lead to work in its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachussets, in order to replace Joel Barciauskas, who left the organization on August 29th.

The Open edX Newsletter is a topic-curated monthly email report compiled by Michael Amigot, Founder at IBL Studios & IBL Open edX. If you enjoy what you read please consider forwarding it to spread the word. Click here to subscribe. View this email on the web 

The Open edX Platform Aims for a New Architecture


EdX has established a plan to reduce the complexity of the edX-platform codebase, while focusing on extensibility and interoperability.

The new Chief Architect of edX, Eddie Fagin, who will execute this transformation, removed the old architecture diagram (below) and presented a new one (above). (Watch his talk below).


Along with it, notable technology updates are coming soon. The new “Eucalyptus” version, scheduled for July, will include new features such as:

  • New course home and navigation
  • Bookmarks
  • Teams
  • Student Notes
  • Video Closed Captions
  • Self-Paced Course Pacing

Additionally, the new iOS and Android mobile apps will continue to evolve from being a video companion app into a much more sophisticated setup, including learner profiles, discussion forums, native course discovery and push notifications, according to Marco Morales, Product Manager at edX.

Unhappy with Your Course Discussion Forum? Facebook Seems to Be a Better Place for Student Engagement


By Michael Amigot / IBL 

Want more effective student-to-student engagement? Facebook happens to be a better space for MOOC learners to engage than courses’ forums.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Pacific Northwest analyzed data on student discussions on three MOOCs from Coursera and found that learners favor using Facebook groups over MOOC forums.


Students –who use their real names on Facebook and see each other’s profiles– say that they have more positive interactions and feel a stronger sense of community there.

In other words, when it comes to student engagement, Facebook’s groups are a more attractive place to stay, foster collaboration and make students feel closer to their instructors. In addition, Facebook posts are organized better. On MOOC forums, or at least on Coursera’s forums, “students feel they don’t get attention, don’t get replies”, said a lead researcher on EdSurge.

“On the Coursera discussion forum, anyone can start a thread… The information overload is very severe, it is unorganized, and you can’t guarantee the quality.”

The Role of Social Media in MOOCs: How to Use Social Media to Enhance Student Retention (PDF Document)




Dogwood.2: New Release of the Open edX Software

The edX engineering team has released Dogwood.2. “This release fixes a few installation problems, applies some security fixes, and lets learners audit courses without offering certificates,” said Ned Batchelder, an edX manager.

Occasionally, edX releases updates to Dogwood. The first of these was Dogwood.1. Then Dogwood.2 came this week.

The CourseTalk Widget and Other Improvements Added to the Open edX Platform

Coursetalk edxEdX engineering team has recently added new features to the Open edX platform such an updated ORA assignments functionality, Checkout page (as part of the E-commerce package), optional fields on the About page and search capability.

Another interesting new feature on the latest version of the Open edX platform is the CourseTalk widget, which is used to post ratings and reviews on the course’s About page.

The JavaScript Underscore.js library has been brought up to date: edX now uses version 1.8.3.

The documentation team has reorganized the Installing, Configuring, and Running the Open edX Platform guide and some sections of the Open edX Developer’s Guide, including a dedicated “edX Front End Development” wiki space for all of front end plans, designs and best practices.

This team has also added the glossary from the Building and Running an edX Course guide to the Building and Running an Open edX Course guide.

Changes on Open edX's Platform: Home, Course and Resume Course

Some important navigational changes are coming to the Open edX platform’s LMS:

  • The name of the current Courseware, that includes updates and handouts, is changing to Course.
  • The name of the Course Info page is changing to Home.
  • Home page will be located to the left of the Course page.
  • A new tab called Resume Course in the upper right corner is being added.

The goal of these changes is to help learners to navigate through courses more easily.

Dogwood, the Fourth Open edX Named Release, Scheduled for January 26, 2016


The next Open edX release called Dogwood will be available for the code developers’ community on January 26, 2016.

Dogwood will be the fourth named release of the Open edX software, after Aspen (September 2014), Birch (March 2015) and Cypress (July 2015).

Ned Batchelder, software architect at edX, disclosed the following planned dates for Dogwood:

  • December 21: RC1 tag in repos based on the edx.org release of December 16th.
  • December 22: RC1 Vagrant boxes are available for download. No upgrade scripts will be available yet.
  • December 29: draft release notes available
  • January 6: RC2, with upgrade scripts, available
  • January 26: Final Dogwood release available
Dogwood will include a Django upgrade from 1.4 to 1.8, Student Notes, Badging, Otto ecommerce as well as other services that are being discussed now.

edX's All-New iPhone and Android Apps Allow to Watch Course Content and Basic Assessments


edX launched on December 7 an improved version of its app for iPhones and Android devices. It provides a much more complete course experience for learners.

In addition to downloading and watching videos without an Internet connection, learners are able to view course content (HTML and text components), as well as complete basic assessments (checkbox, dropdown, multiple choice, and text or numerical input problems).

There is currently a free edX mobile app for iPhones on the Apple App Store and another for Android on the Google Play Store. For iPads and Android tablets it’s not available yet.

  • See the Mobile App chapter in edX Learner’s Guide.

[Disclosure: IBL has launched the first service of fully functioning iPhone/Android apps for independent Open edX platforms. GW SEAS’s prototype app is pictured above].



Open edX's Real Time Conversation Moves to Slack


The Open edX community’s real-time conversation has moved from the aging IRC (#edx-code on irc.freenode.net) to the modern Slack communication tool. This is the address: https://openedx.slack.com.

Anyone can join this space by entering her email here.

Currently, there are ten channels to interact with one another and share ideas. These are some of them:

  • #general (for all things Open edX)
  • #events (for discussions on upcoming meetups and conferences)
  • #news (for discussions on news stories)
  • #docker (for containerizing all of the things)
  • #front-end (for design and implementations)
  • #learn-technologies
  • #ops (for discussion of operational issues)
  • #tastyburger (for jokes)

[Open edX Community Portal: Open edX on Slack, by Molly de Blanc]