Course Builder now supports scheduling, easier customization and more

October 17, 2016

Posted by Adam Feldman, Product Manager and Pavel Simakov, Technical Lead, Course Builder Team

Over the years, we've learned that there are as many ways to run an online course as there are instructors to run them. Today's release of Course Builder v1.11 has a focus on improved student access controls, easier visual customization and a new course explorer. Additionally, we've added better support for deploying from Windows!

Improved student access controls
A course's availability is often dynamic - sometimes you want to make a course available to everyone all at once, while other times may call for the course to be available to some students before others. Perhaps registration will be available for a while and then the course later becomes read-only. To support these use cases, we've added Student Groups and Calendar Triggers.

  • Student Groups allow you to define which students can see which parts of a course. Want your morning class to see unit 5 and your afternoon class to see unit 6 -- while letting random Internet visitors only see unit 1? Student groups have you covered.
  • Calendar Triggers can be used to update course or content availability automatically at a specific time. For instance, if your course goes live at midnight on Sunday night, you don't need to be at a computer to make it happen. Or, if you want to unlock a new unit every week, you can set up a trigger to automate the process. Read more about calendar triggers and availability.

You can even use these features together. Say you want to start a new group of students through the course every month, giving each access to one new unit per week. Using Student Groups and Calendar Triggers together, you can achieve this cohort-like functionality.

Easier visual customization
In the past, if you wanted to customize Course Builder's student experience beyond a certain point, you needed to be a Python developer. We heard from many web developers that they would like to be able to create their own student-facing pages, too. With this release, Course Builder includes a GraphQL server that allows you to create your own frontend experience, while still letting Course Builder take care of things like user sessions and statefulness.

New course explorer
Large Course Builder partners such as Google's Digital Workshop and NPTEL have many courses and students with diverse needs. To help them, we've completely revamped the Course Explorer page, giving it richer information and interactivity, so your students can find which of your courses they're looking for. You can provide categories and start/end dates, in addition to the course title, abstract and instructor information.
In v1.11, we've added several new highly requested features. Together, they help make Course Builder easier to use and customize, giving you the flexibility to schedule things in advance.

We've come a long way since releasing our first experimental code over 4 years ago, turning Course Builder into a large open-source Google App Engine application with over 5 million student registrations across all Course Builder users. With these latest additions, we consider Course Builder feature complete and fully capable of delivering online learning at any scale. We will continue to provide support and bug fixes for those using the platform.

We hope you’ll enjoy these new features and share how you’re using them in the forum. Keep on learning!