BOF #10A: The Problem of Packaging Curricular Materials

Thu Feb 28, 2019, 5:30 PM - 6:20 PM. Hyatt: Great Lakes A1 & A2 (4th floor)

Rough Transcript of BoF Session

Convener: Austin Cory Bart, acbart@udel.edu, https://acbart.com

Discussion Leaders:

Abstract: Packaging materials is a generalized term to capture a broad array of tasks (creating, revising, sharing, finding, crediting, etc.) for materials such as assignments, teacher notes, and evaluation data. Substantial effort has gone into creating materials over the years, but the community still struggles to find ways to effectively manage these. This BoF provides an opportunity to identify needs, concerns, prior efforts, and future plans. A primary goal is the formation of a Working Group tasked to develop a standard for curricular material creation and sharing, joining with broader efforts of standardization (e.g., CSSPLICE) and existing initiatives for creating repositories, tools, and materials.

Significance and Relevance of the topic: Many instructors have experienced the pain points surrounding the problem of packaging materials. New teachers are frequently handed a zip file of course materials with minimal documentation, incomplete assignments, and actual student data interspersed. Curriculum developers must find orderly ways to release their materials while getting feedback on their usage. These scenarios, familiar to many instructors, impede progress in our field as we continually reinvent the wheel. In the broader educational community, initiatives like Open Educational Resources and Learning Objects provide potential frameworks, but there are still opportunities to build on the technical expertise of our field. For example, protocols like Git, combined with lightweight text formats (e.g., Markdown, YAML) could lead to highly adaptable, accessible, and effective material packages. A proper standard could help align efforts within CS Education to develop repositories of questions (e.g., The Canterbury Question Bank), lessons (e.g., OpenDSA), assignments (e.g., Nifty Assignments), and other tools (e.g., Ensemble). This process should start with a community discussion of our collective challenges and experiences.

About the Discussion Leader(s):

Cory Bart is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Delaware with formal training in Instructional Design. He has been involved in a number of course redesigns and created many curricular materials, while also experiencing the pain of having materials handed to him.

Michael Hilton is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Computer Science at CMU, and has been involved in work to package curricular materials for Software Engineering.

Bob Edmison is the Director of Software Development of TLOS at Virginia Tech, and has been involved in numerous efforts to study and revise curricular materials for Learning Management Systems.

Phill Conrad is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at UC Santa Barbara. With his UCSB colleagues, he has piloted a curriculum packaging system based on Jekyll and Markdown that can be hosted free of charge on Github Pages.