Exploring and Building Open [Source] Software for Learning Ecosystems


Here is a quick sampling of some Grav CMS Course Companion workflows:

Video 1. Simple install of the course companion on a Web server (in under 30 seconds).

Flipped-LMS approach using Grav, GitHub, and Deploy
Figure 1. Flipped-LMS approach using Grav CMS, GitHub, and Deploy.

This article is now outdated. Please refer to the Grav Course Companion Getting Started Guide.

To kick off 2016 in style, I’ve just released an early prototype + documentation for my Grav CMS Course Companion skeleton package, based on the Bones Vanilla theme.

Bones Vanilla Course Companion Prototype for Grav CMS
Figure 1. Bones Vanilla Course ...

Here are a few recent thoughts about the usage of LMSs and CMSs outside of school/courses, for both students and instructors.

What is a flipped LMS?
A flipped LMS approach is where an open platform, in the control of course participants, serves as an alternative front-end to the institutional LMS

Flipped-LMS approach
Figure 1. Flipped-LMS approach.

Why flip the LMS?
To support pedagogical goals unmet by current LMS/platform
To deliver a better student (and facilitator) experience
To increase capability of access, sharing and collaboration

While trying to visualize my flipped-LMS approach using an open and collaborative platform, it’s become apparent that I am looking at two distinct, though related, models.

As a modern flat-file CMS, Grav can take full advantage of today’s ecosystem of open and collaborative editing services, such as GitHub or GitLab. In this article we will look at how to easily use Grav with GitHub Desktop (which uses GitHub and Git for source control) and the automatic deployment service Deploy to result in a very efficient, open and collaborative workflow. No scripting or command line interactions will be required, I promise.

Recently, I’ve been exploring ways to use the modern flat-file CMS Grav as a simple open publishing tool. Grav is a natural candidate for this usage, as all content is stored as individual files which can be stored on a variety of open and collaborative editing environments (e.g. GitHub).

I’ve been trying to formulate a sustainable approach of an open design practice for my experience design work in the education field, and I think I am getting closer to defining a workable approach:

While every project has different needs, I am finding that database-based CMS platforms such as WordPress are often too complex/feature-laden for the needs of individual educators/publishers. In contrast, flat-file CMS platforms offer more simplicity and control. Here are some of the key reasons I am now focusing on using modern flat-file CMSs for my development work (especially when implementing a flipped LMS approach):