Using the Open Source Collaborative Model for Digital Educational
azvan Nit
1 a
, Alexandru Apostolescu
, Liza Babu
, Mihai B
Adrian R
azvan Deaconescu
1 b
, Teodor-S
tefan Dut
, S
tefan-Dorin Jum
Viorel-Gabriel Mocanu
, Vlad-Iulius N
, Adrian S
, Sergiu Weisz
Anna Helga J
2 c
, Eggert Karl Hafsteinsson
and Gunnar Stefansson
2 d
National University of Science and Technology Politehnica Bucharest, Romania
University of Iceland, Iceland
E-Learning, Open Educational Resources, Version Control, Collaborative Content Creation, Learning
Computer-aided learning has recently seen significant adoption among learners. Automated tools that offer
online courses, artificial intelligence assisted tutoring, practice items, etc. have been developed and are avail-
able for use. On the other side of the spectrum, educators are offered little improvement for the process of
curating the educational materials that are to be used in the classroom. Worse, even though in most cases the
curriculum for one field is similar, different educators create different hand-out materials, homework, practice
items, and tests. The preparation for the above is significant and the educational content produced is created,
used, and reviewed by a small number of people. In this paper we propose a novel methodology for using
the open-source collaborative model to create, use, and deliver high-quality educational content. Educational
content developed following our methodology guidelines is easy to use, modify, and remix. Educators who
want to use the content may easily select the topics of interest from a proposed set and all of the educational
materials, such as reading materials, assignments, practice items, and even exam items, will be generated.
Some of the content is made available to learners via a generated website, whereas other parts of the content
(such as exam items or assignment solutions) may be hidden. Additionally, all of this content is public and
usable by anyone, including learners of all types (self-educated or following a formal programme). There-
fore, the content may be reviewed and updated by multiple educators and learners alike. We use the proposed
methodology to create educational materials for multiple university courses and present the impact of using
such materials from both educator and learner perspectives.
Educational computer programs have been used with
great success to stimulate and deepen the learning
process. Examples of such tools are: online courses
for most of the disciplines of study (from beginner
to expert levels), websites that offer exercise banks
that are automatically evaluated, tutoring programs
that leverage the artificial intelligence capabilities to
incrementally provide explanations and exercises for
learners(Benigno and Trentin, 2000)(Tallent-Runnels
et al., 2006).
Although these tools may be used to some extent
individually by learners, ideally, they would be inte-
grated by educators in their methods. However, given
the vast amount of tools and resources available on
the Internet, educators often use exorbitant amounts
of time to search, select, adapt, and provide educa-
tional materials in various forms: slides, practical
items, exams, homework, projects, etc.(Judith Harris
and Koehler, 2009).
To make matters worse, each educator does their
own due diligence for a specific class, thus duplicat-
ing the effort of other educators from the same field.
Although presentation materials such as slides may be
adapted for one’s needs, other content such as practi-
cal items and exam questions may be shared among
educators to facilitate reuse and collaboration.
Nitu, R., Apostolescu, A., Babu, L., B
arut, M., Deaconescu, A., Du¸tu, T., Jum
area, ¸S., Mocanu, V., N
astase, V., ¸Sendroiu, A., Weisz, S., Jónsdóttir, A., Hafsteinsson, E. and Stefansson, G.
Using the Open Source Collaborative Model for Digital Educational Content.
DOI: 10.5220/0012536200003693
Paper published under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Computer Supported Education (CSEDU 2024) - Volume 1, pages 239-249
ISBN: 978-989-758-697-2; ISSN: 2184-5026
Proceedings Copyright © 2024 by SCITEPRESS – Science and Technology Publications, Lda.
Ideally, the learning materials for each field of
study would be stored in a public location where any
educator or learner can access it. Additionally, the
content should be easy to understand, browse, select,
adapt and be published to learners. In this case, any
educator can access the content and use it according
to one’s needs, thus minimising the effort of produc-
ing class materials. As an added benefit, the content
would be used by more educators and therefore could
be improved collaboratively. Content development,
use and curation are a challenge for both learners and
educators(Kebritchi et al., 2017).
To that end, in this paper we propose a novel
methodology for creating, using and curating high
quality educational content by using the open-source
collaborative model. Additionally, we provide a set
of tools that may be used to either create educational
content or to directly customise and use it. The con-
tent produced using our methodology is available to
the general public and anyone with an Internet con-
nection may access it. All of the educational materials
are easily modifiable since we provide all of the con-
tent in an editable format that may be used to generate
immutable content (such as .pdf or .png files). Educa-
tors may easily select a subset of the topics presented
and the tools we provide will manage the deployment
of the content that contains all of the required mate-
rials: slides, reading materials, exam items, practice
items, etc. Additionally, we strive to automate edu-
cational tasks that require a lot of effort such as: the
evaluation of practice items, assignments, and exams
as much as possible.
Besides making it easier for educators to discover
and use educational content, the added benefit of our
approach is represented by the fact that the content
may be shared among multiple educators. Having
multiple entities using the same content will create
a community around it which is incentivised to main-
tain a high standard for it.
We have applied our methodology to the devel-
opment of educational materials for multiple univer-
sity courses from a computer science programme. We
show that using the collaborative model for educa-
tional content is beneficial not only for educators but
also for learners, considering the different types of in-
teraction(Moore, 1989). In our particular case, stu-
dents have benefited from having automatic evalua-
tion of most of their tasks and by actively contributing
to the educational content.
In short, the main contributions of this paper are:
We propose a novel methodology for creating, us-
ing and curating high quality educational content
by using the open-source collaborative model.
We propose a range of open source tools that may
be used to create and use high quality educational
We use our methodology to create educational
content for multiple university courses.
We present the impact on both students and teach-
ing assistants on using the proposed methodology.
The remained of this paper is organised as follows:
Section 2 presents an overview of the methodology.
Section 3 presents the current state of using technol-
ogy in the process of learning. Section 4 details the
actual methodology, as sections dealing with content
development, use and curation. Section 5 is an eval-
uation of the methodology. Section 6 and Section 7
conclude the paper.
The proposed methodology aims to provide answers
to common questions related to educational content,
such as:
How do I develop / create a digital educational
content repository?
How do I use (as an educator) a digital educa-
tional content repository in an actual implemen-
tation (course, training)?
How do I contribute to a digital educational con-
tent repository?
How do I curate / manage a digital educational
content repository?
By providing answers to these questions, the
methodology offers uniform guidelines that are fol-
lowed by different content types. New content repos-
itories that follow the same guidelines will present a
comfortable and familiar view to content developers,
users and maintainers, improving the effectiveness of
teaching flows.
To this end, the methodology revolves around
three key concepts:
content aspects: These are classes of actions re-
lated to digital content in the educational process.
roles: These are roles of stakeholders in the edu-
cational process. There is a one to one mapping
between roles and content aspects.
infrastructure: These are digital components
that are used throughout the educational process.
Figure 1 presents the connection between the three
concepts. The digital infrastructure serves as a com-
mon point for three roles and three teaching aspects.
Each of the three teaching aspects, and so each of the
CSEDU 2024 - 16th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
Best Practices
Content Creator
Develop &
Deploy &
Content Curator
Maintain &
& Community
Figure 1: Methodology Concepts.
three roles, relies on the infrastructure and generates a
type of output from a type of input. These three flows
are detailed below:
Content creators develop and organise high
quality learning materials that respect the 5 Rs of open
educational resources(Hyl
en, 2006): Retain, Reuse,
Revise, Remix, Redistribute. They use ideas, knowl-
edge and good practices as input to produce content
repositories as output. The infrastructure employed
consists of open source tools for storing, reviewing
and validating digital content. For content creators,
the methodology provides the guidelines for creating,
organising and storing educational resources.
Educators configure, deploy and deliver these
materials to learners. They use the content reposi-
tories as input to produce actual digital courses as
output. The infrastructure employed consists of en-
gines to format the content to learners and to automate
teaching workflows. For educators, the methodology
provides guidelines on how to use reuse, modify and
remix the existing educational content provided by
content creators.
Content curators maintain and manage the ex-
isting content. They use the content repositories and
the digital courses as input to improve the content
repositories and to create communities around that
content. The infrastructure employed consists of the
same tools for storing, reviewing and validating dig-
ital content, together with communication and col-
laboration tools to include educators using the con-
tent. For content curators, the methodology provides
guidelines on overseeing the use of the content, incen-
tivising contributors, managing modification requests
and organising discussions around the existing con-
Figure 2 provides another view of the flows, fo-
Best Practices
& Collaboration
Figure 2: Methodology Flows.
cused on infrastructure components and connection
between inputs and outputs.
The methodology consists of detailed practical
guidelines for the three flows. Section 4.3 details the
flow related to content creators and the developing
and organising of content. Section 4.4 details the flow
related to educators and the deployment and deliver-
ing of content in actual courses. Note that we use the
term course as a placeholder for any instance of deliv-
ering content to an audience. Section 4.5 details the
flow related to content curators and the maintenance
and management of existing content.
The methodology itself is organised inside a con-
tent repository that follows its own guidelines. This
makes the methodology the target of its own flows, in-
cluding its continuous improvement. The repository
provides actionable items in the form of guides, ex-
amples, references to existing content and pointers to
infrastructure components. These are to be followed
by the person acting as a content creator, educator, or
curator to provide a collection of high quality, contin-
uously improved digital educational content reposito-
Note that one person could be filling multiple
roles. For example, someone can choose to fill only
the educator role and use and deliver existing content
as part of their own digital course. In the absence of
existing content, someone can initially fill the role of
content creator to develop required content, then the
role of educator to deliver it, and finally the role of cu-
rator to maintain the community around the project.
Overall, the methodology, as detailed in Section
4, structures the common flows related to educational
content. It answers questions of the form “How do I
. . . ?”, thus providing the focus for effective content-
related aspects: development, delivery, and mainte-
Using the Open Source Collaborative Model for Digital Educational Content
Web-based learning environments have grown signif-
icantly in usage and popularity over the past couple of
decades (Chirikov et al., 2020), (Mathias Decuypere
and Landri, 2021), (Chen et al., 2020). Some of these
are open and free to use, others commercial prod-
ucts. These digital platforms, ranging from compre-
hensive Learning Management Systems (LMS) like
Moodle and Canvas to Massive Open Online Courses
(MOOCs) platforms such as Coursera and edX, offer
diverse and customizable learning experiences. For
those focusing on technical skills, interactive coding
platforms like Codecademy provide hands-on cod-
ing exercises, while a platform like DataCamp offers
courses in data analysis. Also, there are specialized
platforms such as Duolingo for language learning and
the tutor-web, an open-source learning environment
designed to teach mathematics and statistics (Jonsdot-
tir and Stefansson, 2014), (Jonsdottir et al., 2017).
Many of these platforms offer features beyond simple
content delivery. For instance, there are features for
interactive assessments, forums for discussion, tools
for peer review, and mechanisms for instructors to
provide feedback, a key element in student learning.
As stated in (Black and Wiliam, 1998), several studies
have shown firm evidence that innovations designed
to strengthen the frequent feedback that students re-
ceive about their learning yield substantial learning
gains. Providing students with frequent quality feed-
back can be time consuming for educators but by us-
ing these available tools students can get feedback on
their work that does not require marking by teachers.
There is no doubt that web-based learning envi-
ronments have increased accessibility to learning, al-
lowing students from diverse backgrounds and geo-
graphic locations to access high-quality educational
resources, and breaking down traditional barriers (Zi-
Yu Liu and Korobeynikova, 2020), (Puggioni et al.,
2021), (Eleftheria et al., 2013), (He et al., 2022).
From the teacher’s standpoint, however, there is of-
ten a limitation to these platforms; they are not easily
contributable, meaning that an educator does not have
the possibility of selecting subsets of topics or organ-
ising entire courses tailored to their learners’ needs.
To address these issues, attempts have been made
to use version control systems (Angulo and Ak-
tunc, 2019), such as Github
, to store educational
resources and share them with students. GitHub is
a good choice for storing open educational resources,
promoting collaboration and version control, it makes
it easier for educators to work together on course ma-
terials, track changes, and offer resources that can be
accessed and improved by everyone, even by the stu-
dents (Glassey, 2019), (Bhasin et al., 2021). It offers
free hosting using GitHub Pages, making it easier to
create a website.
Multiple course repositories exist, however, each
implements its own structure and deployment options.
Since the resources don’t have a standard structure
it’s hard to reuse that content, making the contribu-
tion from other communities less likely. In fact, there
are databases of courses on GitHub where each course
follows a different structure. This makes it difficult
for educators to discover and navigate the content that
they need. Another problem with the already present
courses on GitHub is that the content is stored in PDF
format. While PDFs are widely used for document
sharing, they have several limitations in the context
of open education resources. PDF format is typically
non-editable, making it difficult for educators to mod-
ify the content for their specific needs or to contribute
Our methodology addresses this limitation, by
creating a generic repository structure that is easy
to navigate, contribute to and reuse even by non-
technical educators. To the best of our knowledge,
there are no other proposed methodologies on organ-
ising and using educational resources for the open
source environment.
The methodology that we propose offers guidelines
for all levels of interaction with a course repository.
In this section, we describe the main aspects of how
users are going to interact with a potential repository
depending on their needs.
Versioning systems fundamentally group informa-
tion into repositories(Santos-Hermosa Gema, 2017).
As such we consider that all of the educational re-
sources pertaining to a particular course or field of
study are going to be organised into a repository.
4.1 Content Types
Educational resources come in various forms and
sizes. Examples of such resources are represented by
books, wikis, videos, computer learning games, and
multiple choice questions - just to name a few. To
be able to easily navigate the content from an educa-
tional repository it is imperative that a wide range of
content types be supported.
We group educational resources into 6 broad cate-
gories that are representative of most (if not all) types
CSEDU 2024 - 16th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
Table 1: Types of content.
Content Type Examples
Reading books, wikis, articles
Media images, recordings, videos, games
Slides .pptx files, .ppt files
Guides tutorials, demonstrations
Drills quizzes, problems, essays
Projects assignments
of content. Table 1 highlights these categories which
are detailed below.
The reading content type is the most common
form of storing educational materials (or information,
in general). As the name suggests the content is de-
veloped to be read, therefore it comes in the form of
text. The reading content type is typically used stan-
dalone or in conjunction with other types of content
to explain topics.
The media content type refers to audio, visual, or
audiovisual educational materials. The media content
type represents an easily digestible format for present-
ing information. As such, media is typically embed-
ded within the text that is destined for reading, slides,
guides, drills, and projects.
Slides are the main support material for live activ-
ities, such as lectures. They can also be used during
practical sessions or talks (such as conferences). The
main role of slides is to provide visual support mate-
rial for presenting information and engaging partici-
pants in discussions.
Guides are pieces of content consisting of detailed
steps that are commonly used in practice. Guides are
to be used by learners as tutorials or by educators as
Drills are educational activities designed to rein-
force learning through repetitive practice. Drills come
in many forms such as multiple choice questions, es-
says, practice items, etc.
Projects are practice items that are larger in scope
and require extensive time, effort, and resources to
complete. When compared to drills, projects aim to
present a comprehensive narrative that can be divided
into smaller, coherent steps.
Each repository for educational content is going
to contain a mix, if not all, of the above content cat-
egories. To make it easy to understand and reuse the
educational content, we propose a specific structure
for the repository.
4.2 Repository Structure
The structure of the repository needs to be easy to
navigate so that educators intuitively find the re-
Repository Name
Figure 3: Repository Structure Sample - A repository con-
tains any number of chapters. Each chapter contains any
number of discussed topics. Each topic contains all of the
content types defined for it.
sources that they search for, while also making it easy
to select content at whatever granularity it is needed.
To that end we have devised the repository struc-
ture presented in Figure 3. The resources of a course
or field of study are grouped into a numbers of chap-
ters. Each chapter is represented by a number of top-
ics. For each topic, a number of content types (ideally,
all) exist.
By using this form of organisation, educators can
easily browse through the available resources and se-
lect whatever topics or chapters of interest. Once a
topic is selected to be a part of the course, all of the
resources pertaining to that specific topic will be in-
cluded in the final presentation material. Essentially,
all of the content that is needed for a lecture or a prac-
tical session is just one click away.
If some content needs to be excluded at a smaller
granular level (some specific drills, or some specific
assignments) that is also possible, but generally, top-
ics should be treated as indivisible units.
Using the Open Source Collaborative Model for Digital Educational Content
Listing 1: Drill File Example. The drill information is
stored as a list of key-value pairs of the form Title: ”Sam-
ple Question Name”, Difficulty: ”easy”, Tags: ”topic-1”,
”topic-2” etc.
# Sample Q ues t i on Name
## Di f fi c u lt y
## Tags
- topic -1
- topic -2
## Qu e s tio n T e x t
Is t h i s a samp l e qu es t i on ?
## Qu e s tio n An swe r s
+ Yes
- No
- M a y b e
## Fe e d bac k
Th e q u est i o n is self - r e f le c ti n g
For content curators and content creators this form
of organisation is advantageous because it lifts the
burden of thinking about dependencies between top-
ics. The topic is created and if prior knowledge is
necessary, a simple link to a different topic (that the
current one is depending on) or chapter may be in-
serted. It is the burden of the educator to establish the
order in which different concepts are taught.
4.3 Developing Content
For content developers, the methodology provides
guidelines on how to create interactive and attrac-
tive content that is easy to reuse, modify and pub-
lish. Therefore, content creators are given recommen-
dations in two directions: (1) how to develop content
that is valuable for learners and (2) how to create con-
tent that is easily usable by educators.
For creating attractive educational resources, the
methodology provides recommendations regarding
interactivity, using as much as possible media items
instead of reading materials, how to create the layout
of an educational activity etc.
For creating content that is easily usable by edu-
Figure 4: Flow for using the educational content: the educa-
tor browses the content and selects the topics of interest by
providing a configuration file; additionally, a deployment
configuration is provided that describes various deployment
options referring to the publishing format. The publisher
tool that we have developed then renders the course materi-
als and updates the websites that host the drill interface.
cators, the methodology offers guidance on what for-
mats are to be used for the educational materials so
that they are easily editable and the tools that may be
used to achieve this.
We focus on the latter aspect, since the former is
beyond the scope of this paper.
The easiest form in which information may be
edited is text. As such, we strive to store all of the ed-
ucational resources as text, in the form of Markdown
files. We have chosen Markdown because it offers
an easy way to format text by using specific annota-
tions. Additionally, Markdown is used to nicely ren-
der text files in most versioning systems. Excepting
media files, we use Markdown for all other content
Reading, projects, guides content types are eas-
ily stored in Markdown since these are essentially
text-based resources.
Slides are also stored in Markdown and are ren-
dered either in the browser or as a .pdf file by using
reveal-md. reveal-md is sufficiently powerful to han-
dle most of the situations that a graphical presentation
tool such as PowerPoint can, however, it is text-based.
In our experience, creating slides using Markdown
and reveal-md is easier and has the added benefit of
having the source easily editable.
Drills are also stored using Markdown, however,
depending on the drill type and the publishing format,
additional transformations may be used. Additionally,
we want to also store the correct answer in the drill
file, so that (1) educators understand what is the ex-
pected answer, (2) learners who solve the drill as part
of a self-study session can check their answers and
CSEDU 2024 - 16th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
(3) if the drill solution is automatically verifiable, a
correct answer is needed.
As a consequence, we have developed a standard
for representing drills in Markdown files. Listing 1
highlights a sample of such a drill file. Such files are
parsed by a script we provide which creates a dic-
tionary where each ## preceded line represents the
key and the following lines up to the next # repre-
sent the value. Some keys are mandatory, namely
”Title”, ”Question Text”, ”Question Answers” and
”Feedback” but the others are optional. The format
is flexible enough to support any kind of question that
targets any kind of publisher. All that needs to be done
is that the drills are annotated with the proper meta-
data so that the publisher correctly supports them.
Additionally, the format is simple enough that even
a non-technical person may understand it and modify
the drill content.
Media files come in various forms and each type
has different properties. For example, images may be
stored as .svg files which are easily modifiable and
translatable to a different format such as .png, .jpg or
.pdf using However, videos, audio files or
recordings are not easily editable. As a consequence,
in these situations, we store the non-editable version
since, typically, when this sort of content type man-
dates modifications, a new version is created from
scratch. In the particular case of videos that are cre-
ated out of static images, the images could be stored in
.svg format alongside the script that creates the video.
4.4 Using Content
Using the content is designed to be as easy as possi-
ble. Figure 4 highlights the main aspects of using ed-
ucational content that is developed using our method-
ology. The educator browses the existing content and
selects the topics or chapters of interest. The selection
is made via a graphical interface which then is trans-
lated into a content configuration file. Additionally,
the educator may select deployment options such as:
the format in which the materials will be published
(https for rendering on a website, .pdf for presenta-
tions or other custom targets), and the target platform
for drill hosting (so that appropriate pre-processing is
done). The educator need not bother to create the de-
ployment settings as the default option is to render
and host everything on a public website. If the ed-
ucator has a preference for a different flavor of end
publishers, that may also be customised, however, in
this case, the educator must have the knowledge to
properly configure the deployment parameters. Addi-
tionally, the publishing and deployment infrastructure
may easily be extended to support any kind of pub-
lishing format, as long as translators from Markdown
to the targeted formats are provided. Once the deploy-
ment and content configuration files are extracted and
handed over to the publishing and deployment infras-
tructure, all of the educational materials are translated
to the appropriate formats and deployed on the pro-
vided targets. Once deployed, students may access
and consume the educational materials.
By providing a simple selection interface, the ed-
ucator may obtain educational materials for an entire
course just by doing a few clicks. Additionally, both
the educator and the student may propose changes to
the materials.
Note that the educational materials developed fol-
lowing our methodology do not target a specific
teaching activity (such as a lecture, seminar, work-
shop, practical session etc.). The content categories
may be combined during different teaching activities
as the educator sees fit. However, the methodology
does provide a taxonomy of teaching activities and
how each content type may map on it.
Table 2 provides the broad categories of teach-
ing activities that we were able to identify given our
teaching experience.
Lectures are teaching activities that typically take
place with a larger audience and are asymmetrical: a
lecturer mostly talks while the audience mostly lis-
tens. Interactivity is important but is limited by the
larger audience: not all participants will be able to ac-
tively engage in discussions. Slides and media items
are used most frequently during lectures, however,
guides (in the form of demonstrations or tutorials)
may also be employed. Drills may be used in the form
of multiple choice questions to engage the audience
and have instant feedback on whether the audience
has understood the presentation.
Practical Sessions are represented by hands-on
activities that learners perform in order to acquire ex-
perience. These activities are typically supervised by
an educator who proposes the practical exercises and
evaluates the learner’s performance. The purpose of
the evaluation is to provide feedback as opposed to
grading the learner. Instances of practical sessions
are represented by lab sessions, seminars, or work-
shops. A practical session may employ, depending on
educator preference, reading materials for short ex-
planations, slides for educator presentations, media
items to support the previous two, guides that assist
the learner in learning, and drills that offer the possi-
bility for hands-on practice.
Assignments are unassisted practical activities
that learners undertake individually or in teams over
a longer time span. Their primary objective is to pro-
vide learners the flexibility to work through tasks at
Using the Open Source Collaborative Model for Digital Educational Content
Table 2: Teaching activities mapped on content types.
Teaching Activity Category Content Type
Lecture Learning slides, media, guides, drills
Practical Session Learning reading, slides, media, guide, drills
Assignment Learning + Assessment projects, drills
Test Assessment drills
Self Study Assessment reading, media, drills, projects, guides
their preferred speed, allowing them to address gaps
in their understanding as they progress. Assignments
primarily use the project content type, however, they
may also be generated as a series of drills. Although
the primary purpose of an assignment is to deepen the
understanding of one or a series of topics, they are
usually graded, taking part in the assessment process.
Tests are assessments designed to evaluate learners’
understanding and application of the course material.
Tests are comprised of a series of drills.
Self Study is the process of independently learn-
ing outside of structural classroom settings or for-
mal instruction. Learners may individually access and
consume the educational materials, therefore all con-
tent categories, except for slides, may be used for this
activity. We have excluded slides as a learning mate-
rial for self study because slides are typically used for
presentation purposes, not self study.
Note that the teaching activities that involve skill
assessment might require that some parts of the re-
sources be private to the educator so that learners can-
not cheat. This comes in contrast to the open nature
of the educational content that is produced by using
our methodology.
For tests, our perspective is that the examination
should be done in a supervised environment to make
sure that the learner does not access the online solu-
tion. As for knowing all of the answers in advance, we
consider that the drill database should be sufficiently
large so that if a potential learner memorises all the
drills and their solution, then it can be considered that
the learner has mastered the course.
For assignments, however, we have not come up
with a solution. By their nature, projects are to
be solved in an unsupervised environment, therefore,
having a public solution makes it easy to cheat an as-
signment. We do not have a solution for this aspect,
other than expecting that the educators will modify
the project so that the public solution cannot be used.
4.5 Curating Content
Each repository of educational content is supervised,
or curated, by one or several content maintainers. Our
methodology describes the responsibilities of a con-
tent maintainer:
Content management: to review and handle mod-
ification requests, to create tasks and organise the
work that should be done on the repository, to es-
tablish contribution guidelines, and acknowledge
the work of contributors.
Community building: promote the content, en-
courage and organise discussions around it and
build an ecosystem of content users and contribu-
Content maintainers are typically the persons that
initially developed the educational materials, how-
ever, in time, prolific contributors may also take on
this role.
4.6 Automation
Besides making it easy for educators to reuse exist-
ing content, another important aspect of our method-
ology is to design educational materials that alleviate
as much as possible the need for manual effort. As
such, we try to automate as much as possible content
generation and evaluation. Although this may not al-
ways be possible (for example, philosophical essays
still need to be graded by a human), most STEM fields
are amenable to automatic evaluation.
Automatic evaluation may be used for:
Lectures, for multiple choice questions that are
engaging for learners. The result of a multi-
ple choice question is available live for both the
learner (to validate the understanding) and the
teacher (to aggregate the results and understand
whether a concept was understood or not).
Practical sessions for drill categories such as
multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, pro-
grams that need to be developed, etc. For en-
gineering fields, this should be easily imple-
mentable, as we show in Section 5.
Assignments, provided that the assignment is
amenable to automated testing. In computer sci-
ence fields, for example, assignments are typically
in the form of computer programs therefore these
CSEDU 2024 - 16th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
Figure 5: Content deliverers’ level of agreement with the
statement ”The practical session materials were helpful in
understanding the presented concepts”.
Figure 6: Content deliverers’ level of agreement with the
statement ”The lecture materials were helpful in under-
standing the presented concepts”.
Figure 7: The evolution of exam grades over time for the
Operating Systems class. In 2023 we have used the educa-
tional resources developed using our methodology.
can be easily testable. We also provide guide-
lines on how to set up a generic assignment testing
framework that uses a versioning system.
Tests, provided that the exam is in the form of
multiple choice questions or a practical assess-
ment (such as writing a computer program).
In our methodology, we provide guides on how to
set up an infrastructure for automated testing of all of
the above categories. In addition, our repository tem-
plate already contains default configurations that aid
in setting up the infrastructure. As such, content cre-
ators can easily set up the infrastructure when creating
a repository from scratch, educators typically are not
concerned with this (except for choosing content that
is amenable to automated evaluation) and content cu-
rators only have to maintain the initially configured
To apply our methodology we have created educa-
tional resources for 2 university courses - Operating
Systems (OS) and Computing and Calculus for Ad-
vanced Statistics (CCAS) - and 2 university summer
schools - Security Summer School (SSS) and D Sum-
mer School (DSS).
For the OS class, the materials were created
from scratch, whereas for the rest the materials were
”ported” to follow the methodology.
From this selection of courses, the OS class has
the largest audience, roughly 600 students each year,
and the largest team involved in maintaining and de-
livering the content. As such, we further present a
series of metrics to showcase the impact of using our
methodology for the OS class.
Figure 7 highlights the evolution of exam grades
for the OS class. Prior to 2020, we employed a writ-
ten exam and the average grade was around 6. In
2020, because of the pandemic, an oral exam was in-
troduced, and since it was the first time we were us-
ing this type of exam, the examiners were very indul-
gent. The examination was calibrated so that it was
comprehensive enough without being too easy. As
a consequence, the average grade started decreasing.
However, when we introduced the new learning ma-
terials in 2023, the average grade increased. We note
that the team of examiners and the team of content
deliverers were roughly the same starting from 2020.
Although some of the persons who created the mate-
rials are also part of the examination team, the large
majority of them are not content contributors.
Furthermore, we wanted to evaluate the perspec-
tive of content deliverers on the materials we devel-
oped for the OS class. For that, we have devised a
feedback form and asked the content deliverers from
our course to complete it. The questionnaire con-
tained two statements and the respondents were asked
to complete the level of agreement with them. Figures
6 and 5 present the perspective of content deliverers
on the educational materials. As it can be observed,
the majority of respondents (28 participants) consider
that the materials help understand the presented con-
Note that the content deliverers were not involved
in selecting the topics that were presented during the
course and practical sessions. The materials were al-
ready organised for them, they simply had to deliver
the content (in the form of lectures and practical ses-
sions). As such, we do not have any evidence of
whether the content that we provided is easy to con-
figure. However, there were content deliverers who
were not part of the content development team that
Using the Open Source Collaborative Model for Digital Educational Content
Table 3: Number of contributions for our Operating Systems educational materials.
Total Number Authored by Students Resolved
Pull Requests 222 32 (14.4%) 220
Issues 112 18 (16.0%) 72
have made contributions to the content. Furthermore,
we had student contributions to our educational con-
Table 3 showcases the number of ”Pull Requests”
(modification requests) that were made to our content
repository. The number includes contributions from
content developers, content deliverers, and students
over the course of a year. A non-negligible percent-
age of those is made by students ( roughly 14.5% ),
most of which were accepted. The ”Resolved” col-
umn represents the number of requests, out of the to-
tal number, that have been processed. Processing a
pull request means that it has either been integrated
or closed without being merged. The majority of the
pull requests have been merged after changes were re-
quested by the content curators. A small fraction (25
pull requests) have been closed without being merged.
For issues, the ”Resolved” column signifies the num-
ber of issues that have been closed as a result of a pull
request being merged.
This shows that once the content is publicly con-
tributable, both learners and educators/content devel-
opers benefit from it: learners deepen their knowledge
by proposing modifications, whereas educators/con-
tent developers get to have their content improved.
In short, we have validated that the content de-
veloped following our methodology is indeed of high
quality, showing that educators appreciate it and
learners benefit from it. Additionally, given the con-
tributions we obtained, we consider that we demon-
strated that the materials are also easy to contribute
to. However, we have not yet proven that our materi-
als are easily configurable.
Currently, we are using the educational content that
we have developed following our methodology, how-
ever, we do not know if other educators find it useful.
Therefore, our next step is to create an ecosystem of
educators around the content that has been developed
so far. Once educators start using the developed re-
sources, we will be able to obtain feedback outside of
the community from our university.
At the same time, we are continuously looking for
ways to improve our interfaces so that educators with
a non-technical background are capable of using and
developing materials for their courses.
Additionally, we want to create educational mate-
rials for more courses, ideally for non- technical fields
of study (such as geography, philosophy, etc.). Break-
ing the barrier of non-STEM fields of study will en-
able us to better understand what are the needs for
automation and usability for course materials that are
not naturally amenable to our methodology.
The technological revolution has enabled new ways of
learning and a multitude of tools have been developed
that aid the learning process. These tools primarily
target learners. No tools, to the best of our knowledge,
have been developed to ease the process of gathering
and organising teaching resources for educators.
To that end, we have presented a novel method-
ology that offers guidelines and recommendations on
how to create high quality educational content that is
easy to use, modify, and remix. Our methodology tar-
gets content creators, content deliverers, and content
We have used our methodology to develop edu-
cational materials for two university courses and two
university summer schools. We have presented met-
rics for one of the university courses that has been de-
livered that demonstrate the value of the created ma-
terials for both educators and learners. Further, we
have shown that content that is developed by using
our methodology can be easily contributed to.
We envision a future where educators, irrespec-
tive of the field that they are teaching, may easily ac-
cess a platform and search for the topics they want
to teach, select a few, and push a ”publish” button,
and all of the course materials will be made available
to learners. Furthermore, all evaluation will be done
automatically. Once the burden of searching, gather-
ing, curating educational materials, and manual grad-
ing is lifted from educators, they will have more time
to spend on mentoring and coaching learners.
We consider that this work is a first step towards
that future.
CSEDU 2024 - 16th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
This work has been supported by EEA Grants under
the 21-COOP-0016 Programe
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Using the Open Source Collaborative Model for Digital Educational Content