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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.

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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Long on my to-do list was to further explore how Grav Open Course Hub content could be displayed within the popular open source Moodle LMS. Curious about the initial results? You can explore a live demo at paulhibbitts.net/moodle/course/view.php?id=2 and view some draft docs at learn.hibbittsdesign.org/coursehub/integrating-grav-with-moodle.

Grav Course Hub content within Moodle
Figure 1. Grav Course Hub content within Moodle.


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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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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).