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Exploring and Building Open [Source] Software for Learning Ecosystems

EXPERIENCE DESIGN / EDUCATION / MULTI-DEVICE / GRAV CMS

SFU’s fourth annual DEMOfest is scheduled for Wed, November 21st and I hope to share with my fellow educators how the Grav CMS can be used to expand and enhance Canvas - here’s my submitted proposal:

Expanding and Enhancing Canvas with the Open Source Grav CMS
Tech-savvy educators! Want to incorporate more open and collaborative materials within Canvas? How about improving the online experience? Faced with this challenge, Paul Hibbitts developed components for the file-based Grav CMS (getgrav.org) to effectively work inside of his CMPT-363 Canvas course (https://canvas.sfu.ca/courses/38847). Grav uses the platform-independent Markdown format and enables collaborative editing by students and instructors with Git-based services such as GitHub and GitLab. These also naturally support the 5 Rs (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute) of Open Educational Resources. Integrating Grav pages within Canvas is seamless too - without any content restrictions.

I am excited to be sharing the most recent developments of my Grav Open Course Hub project at the Festival of Learning on May 29th.

Here is the description of my session:

Delivering a Better Experience by Using the Open, Collaborative and Flexible Grav CMS – Inside or Outside of your LMS

Want to provide students and course facilitators a better online experience but still want or need to use the existing institutional LMS? Faced with this exact challenge, Paul Hibbitts started to develop a set of components in 2016 for the modern Grav Content Management System to partner with his institution’s LMS (Canvas). Grav leverages forward-looking standards such as Markdown for platform-independent content and enables Git-based (i.e. GitHub, GitLab, GitBook, etc.) collaborative workflows, both which naturally also supports the 5 Rs of Open Educational Resources. In addition, the ability to use GitHub Desktop for mirroring Git-based content to one’s own computer for backup and editing with the tools of your choice not only brings peace of mind but also a highly efficient workflow.


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With an unexpected opportunity to teach SFU CMPT 363 User Interface Design this summer, I’ve been feverishly working in the open on the accompanying Canvas LMS site (leveraging my Grav Open Course Hub project) so that potential students can better self-assess course fit before our first class me...

The Grav Open Course Hub supports a number of optional URL flags (i.e. parameters) to better support embedding Hub content into other LMSs such as Canvas or Moodle:

chromeless - hide all global navigation elements
summaryonly - display the summary of a blog post
hidepagetitle - hide the title of a page


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I am excited to be part of SFU’s DEMOfest this year, where I will be presenting and discussing with my fellow educators the advantages of using the Canvas LMS with Grav:

Canvas Assessment Strengths

  • Assignment submissions and rubrics
  • Surveys, quizzes, and graded discussion forums
  • Multi-course calendar and gradebook
    A safe place for student assignments and data, and where most of our students are!

Grav Content Management System Strengths

  • Free open source software (FOSS) project
  • A modern flat-file (no database) CMS, which supports custom page types and modular content
  • The platform-independent format Markdown is supported, and pages remain as individual files
  • Fully extensible, with support for HTML, CSS, Twig, JavaScript, Google Fonts, YAML, etc.
    For tech-savvy educators a modern and flexible platform under their full control!

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I’ve been once again feverishly working in the open on the Fall 2017 Course Hub (built with my Grav Open Course Hub and using a flipped-LMS approach, naturally!) for SFU CMPT 363 so that potential students can better self-assess course fit before our first class meets in-person on Sept 6th.

Th...

A collection of videos demonstrating how Grav with Git Sync can bring an efficient and flexible Markdown content workflow into Canvas LMS (or any other system supporting embeddable Web pages).

This post was inspired by the very informative July 14th BCcampus Canvas LMS session with Stan Wendt and moderated by Clint Lalonde.

If my reading of the tea leaves is correct, there could be a big uptake of the use of the Canvas LMS in Canada with news of a possible hosted in Canada cloud offering. As a sessional faculty member of the Computing Science Department at Simon Fraser University I’ve been using Canvas for the past several years and I thought it might be helpful for other potential users of Canvas to share my experiences so far.


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I’ve been feverishly working in the open on the Fall 2016 Course Hub (built with my Grav Course Hub and using a flipped-LMS approach, naturally!) for SFU CMPT 363 so that potential students can better self-assess course fit before online registration starts on July 4th.

A significant change...

I am putting together a very brief presentation about flipping an LMS with an open + collaborative platform. Here is what I’ve got so far:

Flip it Good! Flipping the LMS with an Open + Collaborative Platform
Do you have unmet pedagogical goals due to the constraints of your current LMS? Do you want to have a better experience for your students and yourself? In preparing his Fall 2015 CMPT-363 (User Interface Design) course at Simon Fraser University, instructor and interaction designer Paul Hibbitts faced these same challenges. His solution was to ‘flip the LMS’ by designing and developing an alternative front-end to the institutional LMS Canvas (http://paulhibbitts.net/cmpt-363-153/). In this approach, the LMS was used only for elements it was best suited for (i.e. student records, grades, etc.) with all other elements handled by an open extensible platform completely under his control.