Developing tools for Open Education at the CETIS OER Hack Day

The OpenSpires Triton team spent a very productive two days working with programmers and developers from around the UK at the recent CETIS OER Hack day.

A range of tools were created in a fast and furious coding and writing bash with colleagues from other OER projects around the UK.  The brief for the day was to gather together “software developers, project managers, academics, learning technologists, researchers and users … who are interested in hacking OER content, systems and services. (Developers and ‘users’ rarely have opportunities to experiment in a focused way on hacking systems together) … encouraging developers to talk about the systems and resources they have created and how they can be discovered, disaggregated, presented, remixed and tracked. We hope these teams will come up with some imaginative and innovative ideas. ” Phew…

Well, we did do all that and a little bit more. The OpenSpires Triton team of Simon Wheatley, myself and Pat Lockley worked for two solid days with 3 other developers (Andrew Teal, Chris Kennedy and Zak Menshah) to build new generic OER tools around the WordPress blogging platform. The focus was on four areas:

  1. Plugins that would link to open educational content repositories such as Oxford OpenSpires, Xpert at Nottingham and OER Commons.
  2. Importing Open Content in bulk into the WordPress database
  3. Tools and workflows that make it easier to work with Open Content material
  4. Notes, reviews and training videos that help people configure WordPress to deliver Open resources

We’re calling the collection of code and insight developed the WordPress OER Toolkit (beta). Here’s an overview:
Plugins and widgets

  • New OER bookmarker and bookmarklet (platform independent and runs on mobiles) as “FavOERrite plugin – Great tool for building up pages of web links via a new browser bookmarklet that can import web pages into new WordPress bookmarklet tool – [Video Tutorial]
  • New OER Plugin ‘Selectable RSS’ to search against content repositories based upon a tag. The plugin is agnostic about which repository you wish to search against with built-in settings for Nottingham Xpert, Merlot, OER Commons or indeed any OER repository that offers a URL to search against that presents results back in RSS format – [Video Tutorial]
  • A test plugin that configures WordPress to support Dublin Core metadata – [Video Tutorial]

WordPress OER workflow

  • Importing OER -a methodology for feeding and ingesting OER in bulk into WordPress. We’re using Custom Posts and populating with the pluginsFeedWordPress and Custom Post Type UI . We also looked at displaying the new resources in Custom Posts using a sidebar widget  Featured Post type –  [Video Tutorial]
  • We tested and reviewed a range of plugins that are helpful for OER and Creative Commons work – e.g. Photodroper for flickrCC / Open Attribute / FeedWordpress etc
  • We also tested populating WordPress with feeds from the OpenSpires video RSS feeds

Training and videos –

When we’ve done a few more tests on the code they will be available as zip files to download, which can then be easily installed through the WordPress upload plugin menus ( the plugins are available in test versions now on the Github code repository pages Github-sw, Github-pl). We’ll collate all the code and the screencast videos etc together and link from the Triton project home page and send a note to the OER lists.

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