Open Royal Roads


Last March I attended DrupalCon Denver. I was inspired by community of educators and developers (Higher Ed and K12) coming together  to discuss similar challenges and goals.  It was the ‘Drupal in Education Unconference’ and a series of Education BOFs that inspired me to bring back some new ideas to Royal Roads.

Universities in the Open

Watching Bryan Ollendyke demo his work with ELMS at Penn State inspired me on a few levels.  Sharing code wasn’t revolutionary, but it also was… Penn State was contributing to Drupal as a practice, collaborating, empowering, (and I felt) challenging the educational community to do the same.

What does collaboration and contribution mean to the educational community?  For a University it can mean decreased workloads and higher quality software, because the development team extends beyond the walls of a single institution.  A community that values the outcome works together to achieve it.

After reading the Higher Education Bubble, you might agree that saving money is also a good thing.

The ‘Unconsortium‘ coming up at Drupalcon Portland looks to be a an AWESOME continuation of an initiative that sees Universities working together, sharing code…as a best practice.  (not sure I can make this yet, but hope to contribute anyway.)

Badges and Mozilla

I also learned more about Open Badges for the first time at this conference, which was incredibly interesting. Most of my education has been informal, and so I loved the idea that badges could reflect the value of learning.  I’ve since learned a lot more, and am working to create a badge for our Generation Open Project.

Open Michigan had a Github Repo for Drupal Open Badges, which led me to really take-in what they had accomplished through Open Michigan, and the message of sharing:  ‘Find, Share, Connect’.

Open.Michigan is a University of Michigan initiative that enables faculty, students, and others to share their educational resources and research with the global learning community.

This above all inspired  the project I am most proud of this year:

Open Royal Roads

Universities in Open Source + the inspirational Open Michigan + the fact that Royal Roads was already sharing OER (Created thanks to Mary Burgess)  led to my proposal of an ‘Open Royal Roads‘.

We needed to create a best practice for sharing code (no student data etc), but with the support and guidance of CTET, our IT Director and our manager Bobbi Bjornholt’s Design-love, we’ve started something we hope to grow.

We released Open Royal Roads this as part of our presentation at Moodlemoot Vancouver to some great feedback:






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Clint was kind enough to blog about it, and most recently BC Campus news featured us in an article.( which finally got me blogging about it today).

Since release in January, we’ve had an entire module upgraded and contributed back by another University, and numerous others interested in helping us bring some custom modules into Moodle core. Winning already.

So basically I’m proud of everyone, of the results so-far, and of Royal Roads for supporting this initiative. I’m excited at the prospect of working with other Universities in the Open for better software,  and better learning opportunities for students.

This is only a start – my biggest dream would be to see contribution to open projects as a value held by all colleges, universities, k12 institutions.