Learning Spaces: Automated Micromaterials Orchestration

I’m very happy to announce completed work on an MVP for a single user stringing together a number of micromaterials into a cohesive learning space (I totally made up this term, but will explain it a bit more below).

https://github.com/learning-as-code/learning-space-template is a template repository on GitHub that you can use as an example to generate a project board to track progress on 4 (very) small activities working on basic commands in git.

After generating a new repository in your own account based on this template, you can run a GitHub action workflow to set up a project board with a card for each of the short exercises.

The project board set up by the example template

This project board is what I’m calling a “learning space”, and by itself, it’s nothing incredibly earthshaking.

Where it gets interesting is that the particular GitHub action that I set up to turn the basic materials template into a full project is extensible. You could take any number of micromaterials on any topic, organized by any criteria, and use it to generate a project board to scaffold learning.

A self-study course on…

well, anything you want, really! It could be that you want to set up a curriculum to work on web development skills, including reading some blog posts, working through a few tutorials, and then creating a working prototype of something and publishing it on the internet.

I had initially conceived this project to focus on organizing micromaterials, but there’s no reason you couldn’t set up anything you wanted as a card on the project board. I’ll probably be targeting micromaterials because I think they suit self-study very nicely. The feedback is more or less automatic, and given the limited scope, it’s possible to just spend 5 minutes a day on something and still get some value out of it.

Materials (service) discovery

I’ll admit that if I expected all learners to be able to build up their own curriculum themselves, that would probably be a big ask…

So that’s why the next step is to start compiling lists of these self-contained configuration files, grouped into topics (or maybe themes or technologies or whatever) that learners can search for and use to set up their own learning spaces.

That way, the work that somebody puts into curriculum (I’ll grant you, that’s a very fancy word at this point, when we still have very humble beginnings) design will be able to scale to however many other learners are interested in something similar.

I’d like to eventually have a web portal where interested learners could search for these learning space configurations grouped by topic (or tech, or whatever), and potentially graded by level (beginner/intermediate/advanced), and try some of them out. Since it’s all hosted on GitHub, the worst that can happen is you just delete the generated repository, project board and all, and go about your day.

The seed for future endeavors

I started thinking about micromaterials about 6 years ago, and this feels like the natural evolution: transitioning from considering them in isolation to viewing them as constellations or clusters. Having a very simple way for somebody to materialize a tangible learning space from a very simple template file is a big step in unlocking the power of distributed learning.

Buckle up, cause we’re just getting started!

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