Managing tutors with limited rights in Open edX

Currently, many staff permissions in Open edX are tied to the basic role structure of the platform, which assumes that anyone who is administering the course should also have the right to edit the course. This is obviously a flawed assumption, so in this article we're going to lay out some workarounds that you may find helpful.

As a full course staff member, a user has the following high-level permissions (among others):

  1. Access to Studio
  2. Access to content regardless of release dates
  3. Access to staff debug info
  4. Access to the instructor dashboard
  5. Access to Insights (if available)

Notably, having the 'staff' role on a course does not by default make you a discussion admin or moderator. Of the above permissions, the only one that can be assigned to a user independently of staff access is number 2, early content access.

Therefore, the best solution for these non-staff tutors that we're currently aware of is as follows:

Option 1 - Soft management

Soft management is the approach that essentially trusts in the good-will of your tutors to do their jobs without requiring software limitations on their actions. It requires a good relationship and communication between your course admins and your tutors, and should have a sophisticated code of conduct established prior to giving the tutors access to your course. This also requires that your tutors abide by any applicable data protection requirements, as they will have access to student data downloads.

  1. Add them as course staff
  2. Promote them to discussion moderators - This marks their posts as 'staff' in the discussions.
  3. Have agreements in place, either culturally or contractually, that stipulate that they will not enter Studio to edit the content or without permission.
  4. Trust that your tutors will abide by those agreements.

Option 2 - Hard management

The hard management option is for where under no circumstances is access to Studio or sensitive learner data permissible. It lacks some capabilities and requires more manual processes, but is the only way to have tutors able to support learners

  1. Enroll them as students (so that they gain access to the course)
  2. Provide them with beta tester permissions - This gives them the early access they need to get ahead in the content.
  3. Promote them to discussion moderators - This marks their posts as 'staff' in the discussions.
  4. Use manual data exports to provide them with any data required, such as Grade Reports - This is a slightly more clunky process that requires more data handling on your end, but provides them with access to data from Insights or the Instructor Dashboard that may be required to enhance their support of learners.