The Technology we use to run LCL2

Learning Creative Learning is a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab and Peer 2 Peer University. Last year we ran the course for 25,000 educators largely on G+ communities and Google Hangouts (and we hosted a static website on heroku). This year we decided to make some changes.

Dirk Uys, the P2PU tech lead, asked me a few questions about the technology choices we had made and we ended up “talking” on a hackpad. I thought this information might be interesting for other people, and decided to export the hackpad as markdown and paste it below. I used the very nifty Chrome extension for hackpad downloads (which has a few small bugs, e.g. it doesn’t handle multi-level lists very well yet).

This is NOT the definitive technology spec for the course. It’s just our thinking right now. We will learn things along the way and make changes. If you have questions about the technology, feel free to leave a comment below or post in the course discussion forum.

Where is the course site hosted?

Are you using the site as a blog, static content or both? Will weekly communication be posted to the site?

Where does community discussion happen?

Are you concerned about the two separate discussion tools, disqus and discourse?

What are you using for signup?

Do you plan on doing pre/post course surveys? If so, using what tools?

What data are you gathering?

Are you doing any specific experiments during this course?

Can you explain what a protocol for the break-out groups looks like?

How will you group users or will they group themselves?

How will groups communicate with each other? Will this communication be private to the group?

What are you planning to use to facilitate feedback?

Will learners have some sort of profile? Or would you encourage them to update some profile in a certain way (ex. add a project or something to their profile on linkedin).

What happens with discourse after the course? How long do you host it?

Where is the content hosted? Is there content?

What is the primary user experience for learners? Sign up -> get email when course starts -> get weekly email? or discover discussions on twitter,etc -> join discuss community -> participate?

What is the main entry point for users? The mailchimp list or joining the discourse community? (probably ties into above)

Are you planning on using something like badges?

Are people creating things again like the previous time with Scratch and other tools?

Will it produce links that the users can post somewhere? Where? Can we scrape the links? Will it be useful if we can?

What is your measure for success for this course? big community? lots of eyeballs on content? lots of discussion?

What are the costs associated with setting up the tech resources, running it and maintaining it into the future?

Are there any specific plans to distribute content in other language?

Will you address accessibility - transcribe videos, make sure the content is compatible with a screen reader, etc.