FTA:Development Methodology

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FTA Development Methodology

The original FTA manuals look fantastic and I believe the work was funded heavily by the EU. The problem as I see it is the tenancy to obsolete quite fast.

To get things started I propose that the FTA create a development manual with a number of stages.

  • Each project should have a controlling editor that is responsible for releases.
 * Apart from the controlling editor (who's a kind of project lead) optionally we can have participants of various roles, like contributor, reviewer, translator --Wouter (talk) 10:50, 2 October 2014 (CEST) 
 * Can't argue with that, I agree. --An Laoch (talk) 11:54, 2 October 2014 (CEST) 
  • The initial development phase using a standards based 'markdown' language like txt2tags.
 * Two parts to each course:
   - A Learner Guide. 
   - A separate Course Workbook. (WT: I'd say "workbook" is a particular output format, in many online campus's we have exercises, but not in book format; moreover specific formats exist like [IMS QTI]] that is also used within Moodle)
 * Optional parts, depending on the educational methodology:
   - Slideware
   - Video lectures
  • Bi-annually the txt2tags are put together as 'html' published Beta material that is accessible by those that sign on for such materials. Such Beta testers to review and log suggestions/errata etc..
 * Perhaps a ticketing system like RT: Request Tracker could be used for this purpose.
   -> WT: it's under GPLv2 so that's fine, and its features seem interesting. Who can set it up on our server? 
   -> WT: I'm happy to test it out. Other alternatives would be to have a task plugin within MediaWiki, which would help to keep it simpler for the users (one system).
   -> OB: MediaWiki is fine by me also, the point is more about the process than the technology for tracking.
 * Tickets to be tracked and updates made as necessary with acknowledgements. 
  • Following the Beta process the HTML manual is converted to an Open Document Format (ODF) or whatever is decided.
 * Stages 
   - Graphics to be standardised (specific volunteer help needed for this) (WT: I'd say that in the development cycle, we apply an "official" FTA template only when it has passed a certain review phase, so it'll help identify quality tested materials.)
   - A method to convert the markdown or HTML to the ODF and Portable Document Format (PDF) formats. And ebook formats like ePub.

I would really be interested if this is of interest to the membership ? What do you think ?

--An Laoch (talk) 10:23, 30 September 2014 (CEST)

Thanks Diarmuid for opening this discussion - a very important one! Here are a few more thoughts --Wouter (talk) 10:50, 2 October 2014 (CEST):

  • terminology: we had adopted the term "learner" instead of "student" as people of all ages and types more easily identify with it
  • formats: since 2008 the FTA has been debating about the ideal development cycle and the appropriate open standard formats to be used. We agreed years ago that SCORM and DocBook were the desirable formats, in particular DocBook, because it is a very granular XML standard that has basically all neded for professional DTP processes to produce the desired books universities want, while at the same time it can be dealt with in LaTeX and from there to all other formats. But we haven't found a good way to do online collaborative authoring in DocBook, so at the end it didn't work well. So the suggestion of txt2tags seems a very reasonable one. Otherwise we'll have booki, or CNX/OpenStax (has its own XML standard (CNMXL, but also allows MathML and other XML standards to be im/exported from their online platform). At this point I agree that we should just start setting up a [txt2tags] server and start using it. BTW I can't see any Access Control feature at first sight, how do we handle permissions of users with different roles and projects?
  • We should develop a wiki template for the course development page, where we can state the course title, objectives, prerequirements, who's involved, tasks to be done, it being part of certain curriculums or course programmes, time line, development state, etc