(Cross-posted on the Google Research blog.)

When we last updated Course Builder in April, we said that its skill mapping capabilities were just the beginning. Today’s 1.9 release greatly expands the applicability of these skill maps for you and your students. We’ve also significantly revamped the instructor’s user interface, making it easier for you to get the job done while staying out of your way while you create your online courses.

First, a quick update on project hosting. Course Builder has joined many other Google open source projects on GitHub (download it here). Later this year, we’ll consolidate all of the Course Builder documentation, but for now, get started at Google Open Online Education.

Now, about those features:

  • Measuring competence with skill maps In addition to defining skills and prerequisites for each lesson, you can now apply skills to each question in your courses’ assessments. By completing the assessments and activities, learners will be able to measure their level of competence for each skill. For instance, here’s what a student taking Power Searching with Google might see:
This information can help guide them on which sections of the course to revisit. Or, if a pre-test is given, students can focus on the lessons addressing their skill gaps.

To determine how successful the content is at teaching the desired skills across all students, an instructor can review students’ competencies on a new page in the analytics section of the dashboard.

  • Improving usability when creating a course Course Builder has a rich set of capabilities, giving you control over every aspect of your course -- but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard to use. Our goal is to help you spend less time setting up your course and more time educating your students. We’ve completely reorganized the dashboard, reducing the number of tabs and making the settings you need clearer and easier to find.
We also added in-place previewing, so you can quickly edit your content and immediately see how it will look without needing to reload any pages.
For a full list of the other features added in this release (including the ability for students to delete their data upon unenrollment and removal of the old Files API), see the release notes. As always, please let us know how you use these new features and what you’d like to see in Course Builder next to help make your online course even better.

In the meantime, take a look at a couple recent online courses that we’re pretty excited about: Sesame Street’s Make Believe with Math and our very own Computational Thinking for Educators.