Background on edX: edX is an online learning collaboration between MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley, an open-source platform that puts interactive university classes online so that anyone in the world can enroll and take a class. I worked for a similar project at UC Berkeley that joined the edX organization in July 2012, thus several of my summer projects completely changed in July 2012.
A larger project that I worked on for edX was to investigate student interaction on the online education platform, where students were not face to face and could potentially be several continents apart. How could we augment the online learning experience through increased student interaction and participation around the content of the course?
The majority of this project involved early sketches and brainstorms, high-fidelity mockups, and a lot of front-end coding (haml and Sass) to create the interface design. Looking back, I should have paid more attention to user experience in addition to user interface design, and conducted more user research when doing this project, but the late start (late July when we joined edX) and rushed deadline (start of UC Berkeley's fall semester in mid-August), meant significantly less user research was conducted, and significantly more usability issues snuck into the design. This caused some UC Berkeley students, the first users of the platform (and my peers!), to be a bit upset until the next iteration of the discussion forums was deployed. Fortunately, the development and design team at edX and UC Berkeley worked well together to fix the problems of the first iteration, and by the time the online class went live (Sept 24), the discussion forums were significantly improved.
(Side note on edX course platform organization: edX courses are generally organized into several tabs. The two that are important for this project are Courseware and Discussion. Courseware pages are all the content for a course. For example, lecture videos, problem sets, interactive tutorials and labs, and projects, would all go in the courseware pages, which features a side navigation organized by week (see images below). The Discussion tab is a discussion forum that allows students to post comments and questions to be answered by peers and instructors.)