This is a brief guide to help educators use the Grav Course Hub as an open and collaborative multi-device partner for their LMS. In other words, to ‘flip’ it good!

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This is a guide on how to setup your Grav Course Hub for a single course using the Admin Panel (accessed by adding ‘/admin’ to the Browser URL of your Grav site) or directly working with files. This guide assumes you have the Grav Course Hub up and running and that you are familiar with the basics of Grav.


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







A flipped-LMS approach using an open and collaborative Web platform (i.e. CMS) minimizes effort/time with a closed LMS and maximizes time/effort with an open source CMS.

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

What to “Flip” Your LMS With?
Ideally an open and collaborative platform, as shown below:

Open + collaborative Web platform
Figure 2. Open + collaborative Web platform.

Flipped-LMS approach using an open + collaborative Web platform
Figure 3. Flipped-LMS approach using an open + collaborative Web platform.

For example, the modern flat-file CMS Grav along with GitHub and an automatic deployment service such as Deploy can be used quite effectively by tech-savvy educators as an open and collaborative platform to support a flipped-LMS approach:

Flipped-LMS approach using Grav, GitHub, and Deploy

Figure 4. Flipped-LMS approach using Grav CMS, GitHub, and Deploy.

When flipping your LMS what are some key experience design goals?
Student experience design goals:
Engaging
Organized
Relevant
Convenient
Enjoyable

Facilitator experience design goals:
Controllable (i.e. manageable)
Pliable (i.e. flexible)
Efficient
Enjoyable (hey, instructors are people too…)

Want to get started with flipping your own LMS? Since this article was written I’ve built an open source project using the Grav CMS to help other tech-savvy instructors - explore the on-line demo and then head over to Grav Course Hub Getting Started Guide to get going.

In a recent discussion the question of how a traditional LMS implementation compares to a flipped LMS was asked. Here are my initial thoughts so far, based on my experiences with several institutional LMSs and using the flat-file CMS Grav in a flipped-LMS approach:

Traditional LMS Implementation       Flipped-LMS Approach
Institutional Control Instructor & Student Control
Closed Open
Fixed Pliable
Solitary Collaborative
Stationary Portable

So, why would course facilitators want to utilize a flipped-LMS approach?

Here are three primary reasons that come to mind:

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

I am excited to be presenting my approach of a Flipped-LMS at Simon Fraser University’s DEMOFest 2015 on November 24th.

Here is the description of my session:

Flipping the LMS: Benefits and Lessons Learned of Using an Alternative Front-end to Canvas

Let’s be honest, as course facilitators we want to deliver the best possible online learner experience but at the same time make our own experience as convenient as possible. LMSs, such as Canvas, provide some great pedagogical elements but often fall short when it comes to such things as streamlined course updates, content reuse, easy customization, and providing a truly open platform. The solution? Flip the LMS!

A flipped-LMS is an approach where an open platform, chosen by an instructor, provides an alternative (and preferably collaborative) front-end to their institutional LMS. In this presentation Paul will demonstrate how this approach can produce significant improvements to both the student and instructor experience. Elements from Paul’s personal toolkit to be highlighted will include Canvas (naturally), the open source flat-file CMS Grav, and GitHub Desktop.

Presentation Slides

A flipped-LMS approach is where an open platform, in the control of instructors and students, serves as an alternative front-end to the institutional LMS.

With this approach, instructors can create better outcomes and experiences for students and themselves today. Deep-links to any needed LMS elements (i.e. assignment submissions, discussion forums, grades, etc.) with flow-through for user authentication is the only back-end requirement.

Explore an example flipped-LMS implementation, created for my Simon Fraser University CMPT 363 course and built with the open source CMS Grav + Instructure’s Canvas LMS at http://paulhibbitts.net/cmpt-363-163/.

Desired qualities of a flipped-LMS approach:

  • Open (Platform + Data)
  • Collaborative
  • Choice (Instructor/Student)
  • Pliable
  • Networked

Definition:
A flipped-LMS is an approach where an open platform, chosen by an instructor, provides an alternative front-end to their institutional LMS. Deep links (i.e. direct links) are provided to any required LMS elements such as discussions, assignments, grades, etc.

A flipped-LMS also enables a”flip” of ownership of the course experience to the hands of instructors and students.

A live example of a flipped-LMS approach, using the CMS Grav and Canvas LMS, is at: http://paulhibbitts.net/cmpt-363-163/.

Flipped-LMS Approach Decision Flowchart

Figure 1. Basic flowchart to illustrate a flipped-LMS decision pathway (http://bit.ly/201zVj0)