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Exploring and Building Open [Source] Software for Learning Ecosystems

EXPERIENCE DESIGN / EDUCATION / MULTI-DEVICE / GRAV CMS

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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With Grav being a flat-file (no database) CMS tech-savvy educators have a wider range of possible development and deployment options for their Grav Course Hubs than most other database-driven systems. Recently I’ve been exploring an on-line alternative to my currently preferred local development approach, so I thought I would share both together for easier comparison. Both approaches will let you safely develop and test your Grav site before deploying changes to a live production server.


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After my first Grav CMS for Educators Workshop it became apparent I should provide a wider range of options for how Web-savvy instructors can install and set up the flat-file CMS Grav, especially when using my ready-to-run Course Hub package.

This article is now outdated.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

I am pleased (well, actually quite stoked) to announce that my ready-to-run Course Companion, built with the open source CMS Grav, is now available for fellow educators to take for a test drive.


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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.

One of the (many) great things about using the open source CMS Grav for a flipped-LMS approach is that no database is required, which makes running a local copy of Grav on your computer for testing purposes a very straightforward process. This also makes deployment to a Web server a breeze - just a simple folder copy.

In this article I will describe the workflow details for my Fall 2015 Simon Fraser University CMPT-363 course companion, which meets the requirements first outlined in the LinkedIn article Online Course Companions: Workflow Requirements for (us) Instructors.