Open edX For Corporate Use

edX is known to be widely used at universities and other educational institutions. However its rich feature set, usability and openness offer compelling uses in a corporate learning environment.

edX Vs. Op

en edX

First, let’s distinguish between edX and Open edX

edX is the Organization, offering approx 850 MOOC courses online on Open edX is the open source software, which is free to install and customize and develop your own Learning Management System
edX was originally developed for higher education self-paced courses. There are 2 ways that corporations can work with edX:

  • Option 1: Partner with edX to host courses on
  • Option 2: Use Open edX to host courses on customized learning experience

Option 1: Partner with edX

While edX primarily partners with Universities, it also partners with corporations to develop and host courseware . edX creates a white-labeled partner branded powered by edX. Full list of partners here
In this model, edX: 

  • Hosts courseware on with standard out-of-the-box features
  • Assists with aspects of course production

There are 2 models for a University or Corporate Partner to work with edX in the first option.
Option 1→ MODEL 1: Self-Service

  • Partner uses edX as a free LMS for a course with a revenue sharing agreement
  • The courses are created by Partner without course-production assistance from edX
  • Once the course is live on, edX will collect
    • The first $50,000 generated by the course, or
    • $10,000 for each recurring course
  • edX and Partner will each get 50 percent of all revenue beyond that threshold

Option 1 → MODEL 2: edX-Supported

  • edX is consultant and design partner, offering production assistance to universities for their MOOCs.
  • edX charges a base rate of $250,000 for each new course, plus $50,000 for each time a course is offered for an additional term.
  • Partner gets 70 percent of any revenue generated by the course

Option 1: Example of Corporations that have worked with edX in this model

  1. Tenaris
    1. Tenaris, a global steel manufacturer worked with edX to expand training and education for almost 27,000 Tenaris global employees.
    2. Through this collaboration, edX provided training and consulting for online course development for Tenaris University, the company’s corporate training center
  2. International Monetary Fund
    1. The IMF was the first non-university partner with Open edX in June 2013
    2. The IMF uses edX to offer training courses in macroeconomics and finance to IMF and interested policy makers and finance professionals
  3. Microsoft
    1. Microsoft is offering courses for users to acquire the core development skills needed to be successful in the cloud-first, mobile-first world

Option 2: Use Open edX

The second way that corporates can work with Open edX is to use edX’s open source software, Open edX. Here are some benefits of Open edX:

  • Install your own version of the latest edX software (Open edX)
  • Host it in your own data center or public/private cloud
  • Customize it per your needs
  • Integrate it to work seamlessly with your corporate systems
  • Open edX is free to use and customize
  • This option is used by several corporations including
    • McKinsey
    • J&J
    • MongoDB
    • Pivotal

Benefits of Open edX

  • Intuitive user interface (studio and LMS)  
  • Flexible assessments/labs/homework – learning by doing  
  • Platform supports modular learning  
  • operational with 850 courses / 5M users   
  • Corporate Proof Points (McKinsey, J&J, Pivotal and more)
  • Modern technology architecture
  • Allows advanced customization
  • Testing on EC2/Azure shows proven platform stability  
  • Active global developer community
  • Support from core edX team to open source community
  • Free/no cost to use

In-Built Advanced Corporate Compatible Features 

  1. Fully web-based allowing for integration/link from other corporate web properties
  2. Support for standard single signon (SAML, Shibboleth etc)
  3. Advanced support for dynamic course modules including video, assessments, images and more
  4. Support for advanced engagements analytics (edX Insights)
  5. Access to several 3rd party xBlocks to allow for extended functionality (eg Polls, Google Docs, Google Hangouts)
  6. Support for 3rd party courseware (LTI compatible)
  7. Highly customizable open source : “Anything is possible”

Security of an Open Source Platform

For large corporations, security of an Open Source Platform is usually a major concern. These concerns with Open edX are addressed as follows:

  • Software can be installed on-premise or on public/private cloud (as secure as data center / private cloud environment)
  • Generally more secure than an open SAAS platform built with unknown software
  • Open source allows for whitebox inspection to further evaluate security
  • Security scans and pen tests are conducted by edX Team on Open edX builds
  • edX publishes security log to announce any new security issues
  • Occasional custom packages can be re-compiled to integrate security fixes for components in the Open edX environment/OS
  • SSL certificates supported to encrypt web content over https
  • Unused edge ports can be blocked by setting up firewall rules

In summary, edX offers several advanced LMS features out of the box, has a modern and highly usable interface and is constantly getting better. And given that it is open source and supports courseware interoperability (eg LTI) , it is wide open in terms of its ability to be integrated with any corporate environment.

SAAS LMS vs Open edX

A common question that comes up when evaluating Open edX is how it compares to other SAAS LMSs (eg schoox, d2l). 

Pros of a SAAS LMS

  • Built for corporate use case (vs. edX for higher-ed)
  • Rich set of corporate specific features and integration options
  • Good for hierarchical/geographically distributed employee management

Cons of a SAAS LMS

  • Primarily SAAS model, limited on-prem model
  • Out of the box as-is model, advanced customization not available

Open edX gives you your own set of core LMS features out of the box, with the ability for you to customize the platform to really any feature set you want. The trade off is you need to be equipped with a full stack Python development team to correctly customize the platform for your needs.

For a more detailed comparison feature by feature of Schoox vs. Open edX see this document.

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