Trying something that isn’t WordPress for E-Learning 3.0

Trying something that isn’t WordPress for E-Learning 3.0

August 23, 2018 0 By JR
You’re not designing a website. You’re designing a web.Stephen Downes

(I have this written on a post-it on my monitor, but I can’t seem to figure out where I first heard it at the time of writing this post)

I didn’t start my M.Ed program until summer 2011, which was where I first learned about Connectivism and Connected Learning, years after CCK08 had been offered. The term MOOC was new to me, and I started hearing about Stephen Downes, George Siemens, and David Cormier. A little later in the program I first heard of DS106 and was introduced to more people doing really interesting things in ed tech namely Alan Levine, and Jim Groom.

Thankfully I had been introduced to the ideas put forward by these educator-technologists by the time 2012 rolled around. But as someone trying to look back at what connectivist courses looked like early on I found imagining the format difficult. xMOOCs were easy to image, as they just replicated the LMS based designs we’ve all become accustomed to. I participated in at least one C leaning open course, ETMOOC, facilitated by Alec Couros in 2013. It used a WordPress site as a hub, where mostly I watched the guest lectures/webinars and I also followed the hashtag on Twitter. I hadn’t really had a chance to participate in an open course that used blog syndication, an assignment bank (like DS106 has), or other distributed course designs. (Thinking about it, that’s only mostly true. In 2015 I participated for a couple of weeks in The Happening 2: Teaching Machines co-hosted by Mike Caulfield and Audrey Watters and the course used a Federated Wiki. This idea still stands out to me as a great way to produce student writing, but it seems to have faded away for the time being).

That’s why when I saw this tweet the other day I got pretty excited:

Cool, a course facilitate by Downes, and using the gRSShopper software I’ve only just heard about. So I took a look for how I could get my hands on gRSShopper and first thing I come across is the GitHub page. Scrolling down the page, the first header in the read.me is “Installation – works for CPanel on Reclaim Hosting”. I can’t think of a more welcoming header, I’ve got a Reclaim account and have used it to host my WordPress sites mostly. I dabbled with Pressbooks for a little while, but ended up breaking an entire subdomain I had when trying to update it. That’s ok, I have other ways to use Pressbooks so the time and energy needed to self-host was more than I had at the time anyway. I’ve also played around with Piwigo based on Jim Luke’s recommendation, and during one of the Making Sense of Open Education challenges. After Alan Levine’s #OEextend event, I decided to give Koken a try as well, but haven’t made it too far yet. Long story short, I’m willing to try new things, and given the awesome support I’ve received from Reclaim in the past I’m not afraid to try things that on the surface appear to be at the edge of my capability.

I got about half way through and was running the server test and the initializer. I found that the server test produced an error – apparently missing a Perl Module – and the initializer failed completely. Thanks to Stephen’s quick replies in GitHub I was able to make some corrections to what I was doing and I managed to get it working.

But then I realized that I had installed it on my main domain, and there was already lots of stuff there, and I don’t want to make a messy file structure. Ok, delete everything and back to square one. After some thought it seemed setting up a subdomain to host my instance of grsshopper made sense. So I set up the subdomain, and ran into additional problems. Lucky for me I wasn’t the only one that saw Stephen’s announcement and made my way to installing grsshopper:

Reclaim pulled me out of my tailspin yet again with tips and guideance (really, Tim helped me to help myself, a bit like a teach a man to fish kind of scenario and it worked perfectly) and I am now ready for E-Learning 3.0. If you’re interested in taking the MOOC too, rest assured that the installation will go much smoother as the instructions and code have been much improved as I stumbled my way through installation. There is a lot of great support out there so don’t be discouraged. I hope to see you in the course.

Image credit: Stephen Downes