Exploring and Building Open [Source] Software for Learning Ecosystems and OER


I recently updated the list of problems that Grav has solved for me as an instructor/educator who facilitates a blended course, and I thought I would share them here:

Like any other Grav theme, both of the included Course Hub themes (‘Course Hub Bones’ and ‘Course Hub Bootstrap’) can be visually customized using CSS and/or altering their Twig template files. However, if you make changes directly to the Course Hub theme these will be overwritten when that Course Hub theme is updated. So, what to do?

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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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In this article, we will look at how to use Grav with GitHub Desktop and GitLab. Unlike GitHub, you can install GitLab onto your own server, which is an attractive option for many higher education institutions. A locally hosted version of GitLab is used in this walkthrough.

I’ve been thinking about all the different activities involved so far in the creation of the Grav Course Hub, and I thought I would share them here:

Recently I’ve been exploring online (aka “cloud”) IDE’s for use with my various Grav sites and to also recommend for other educators who use Grav with GitHub (as I do). Yesterday I happily discovered SourceLair, which provides a straightforward online environment to develop and test a variety of Web project types all within your Browser (or in my case on my Chromebook). Other noteworthy highlights about SourceLair include a full-screen Terminal and a public URL which can share with others to view your in-development work.

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I’ve been further refining my sustainable approach of an open design practice for my experience design work in the education field, and (bravely or foolishly) I’ve attempted to craft a working definition of the phrase:

When mapping out the design of the Grav Course Hub Skeleton, it was important to support the two most popular responsive Web frameworks (Bootstrap and Foundation) so that educators could choose the framework best suited to their multi-device presentation needs.

For folks who decide to use the Course Hub Bootstrap theme, the recently released Gravstrap shortcodes plugin by Giansimon Diblas adds a substantial set of useful Bootstrap framework elements available right in Markdown (no HTML required).

In this article, we will look at how to use Grav with GitHub Desktop and Beanstalk (which has automatic FTP deployment built-in) to provide a highly efficient workflow when updating your Grav site, and source control to boot. While GitHub only offers private repositories for paid plans, Beanstalk offers a free plan to store one single repository privately.

You will be required to enter a few commands into your Mac or PC command line interface (CLI) during this the process, so get comfortable and let’s get started.