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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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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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/.