[School-of-data] Course editing on the new School of Data platform

Dirk Uys dirk at p2pu.org
Fri Apr 25 15:10:43 UTC 2014

Hey Michael

I'll give you some feedback from our experience with creating courses.
Some things are obviously different in the School of Data community,
so everything probably won't apply.

> Creation

Are you planning to allow anyone to create a course or would it only
be someone you already have some interaction with that will create
courses? We aim at allowing anyone to create a course on P2PU, but
that complicates things - spam, stripping content of harmful scripts,
HTML, lots of empty courses that were simply tests, etc.

> translation

You probably want to translate two different parts - UI and the course
content itself. Do you view translations as different versions of the
same course or do they become different courses? A course is more that
the content, there's a community that surrounds it. So, do you have
separate sub-communities for the different languages or just one big
community? Will different language communities have the same

With regards of tools for translation, have a look at Transifex
(https://www.transifex.com/), they support the common formats and have
a good interface for managing translations.

> curation

I recommend keeping the solution low tech but specifying good
guidelines like the School of Open does:
School of Open also distinguishes between courses they 'endorse' and
courses run by the community.

> Would markdown work? Or would you prefer a fully fledged WYSIWYG editor?

We started quite a while back with a WYSIWYG editor - you never really
get what you see :) but you get close. ckeditor.com and
www.tinymce.com is pretty good, but the HTML that you get out of it
drives me mad sometimes!

We moved to markdown and it seems to be working well. You have more
control over keeping things consistent and with a little bit of
adjustment people get used to it. Like other people pointed out, there
are pretty good editors for Markdown. I think an inline preview and a
quick cheatsheet is a must if you go with Markdown.

> How much freedom is needed - how much structure does there need to be?

Having some structure and consistency is good, but when people feel
restricted and don't benefit from expertise they have (like HTML, CSS,
JavaScript), that's bad.

We are using github pages a lot these days. Ex
(https://github.com/p2pu/school-of-webmaking). Course content can be
done in HTML, Markdown or Restructured text, you have full control
over what you want to do and it is possible to pull things back under
one domain/brand if that is what you wish to do. People can mess
around in their own space, collaborate using github features and tools
like dillinger integrates with github. We are still experimenting, but
so far it looks good.

> IPython

I absolutely love IPython, I find it hard to believe that I used to
mess around in the normal Python shell. Having my dirty little
scripting in the shell recorded somewhere, sharable, repeatable, etc
is invaluable for me!

I think it is a super useful tool and I think it will work well for
shorter tutorials. Haven't thought about using it for something
longer, could be interesting! Especially if you can add parts to a
notebook where people can collaboratively author code and integrate
things like together.js.

> Other questions

What are your current thoughts on comments and discussion?

To what level do you want to integrate badges in courses? (I think you
are using badgekit if I remember correctly?)


On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 8:45 AM, Michael Bauer <michael.bauer at okfn.org> wrote:
> Everyone,
> As you might know I started working on a new platform for the School of
> Data a while back. We've grown out of wordpress and there are a couple of
> things we'd like to do better. One of them is the creation/translation and
> curation of courses.
> I've just started to work on this and would love to get your feedback and
> input: What do you think are the most important things there?
> How would you like to edit the courses? Would markdown work? Or would you
> prefer a fully fledged WYSIWYG editor? How much freedom is needed - how
> much structure does there need to be?
> I know this are a lot of questions, but we do want to make it easier to
> create new courses for everyone (and I do believe most of the people on
> this list have valuable skills to share) so what would be the ideal way for
> you?
> Michael
> --
> Data Diva | skype: mihi_tr | @mihi_tr
> Open Knowledge | School of Data
> http://okfn.org | http://schoolofdata.org
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