Open Educational Resources on GitLab
oer at GitLab collects
Educational Resources (OER).
In a nutshell, educational resources are open if they are distributed
under free licenses,
5Rs of Openness, namely the rights to
reuse, redistribute, revise, remix, and retain.
Consequently, OER promise to reduce entry barriers towards
educational resources as well as to avoid redundant work when similar
educational resources of high quality are created in different
According to the UNESCO’s Ljubljana OER Action Plan 2017 OER can play a “pivotal role […] toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and above all Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education.” However, several barriers have been identified that hinder a widespread adoption of OER, and the Action Plan proposes actions to overcome them, in particular for “building the capacity of users to find, re-use, create and share OER.”
oer group of projects is well aligned with that Action Plan in
that it increases the capacity of users to find, re-use, create and
share OER. Currently, OER collected here were or are being
created at the Department of
Information Systems of the
University of Münster, Germany,
mostly with the
and open source
(FLOSS) software emacs-reveal
(some details on emacs-reveal below);
additional OER projects based on free licenses are welcome.
2 Current OER projects
- OER presentations for a course on Operating Systems (source files for OER on OS)
- OER presentations for lectures on Distributed Systems (source files)
- In German: OER presentations for a course on the fediverse (source files)
- Presentations on selected topics such as
- OER explaining aspects of the infrastructure of emacs-reveal such as an Introduction to Git and an Introduction to Docker (source files)
- OER figures used in some of the above presentations
- Docker images for the infrastructure of emacs-reveal
3 Technical Background
- OER should be usable (for learning) with FLOSS on (almost) any device, also mobile and offline.
- OER should be editable with FLOSS (this requires source file access).
- OER should be re-usable under the Single Sourcing paradigm (see [Roc01]), which enables reuse and revision from a single, consistent source without copy&paste (copy&paste creates isolated copies, where the reconciliation of changes and improvements by different individuals would be almost impossible).
- OER should offer a separation of contents from layout (then, experts for content do not need to be design experts as well; also, cross-organizational collaboration is supported where each organization can apply its own design guidelines).
- OER should be defined in a lightweight markup language, which is easy to learn and which enables the use of industrial-strength version control systems such as Git for the management of OER collaboration (comparison, revision, merge).
The above requirements are met by emacs-reveal. Emacs-reveal supports the creation of OER presentations (slides with audio explanations) from source files that are written in Org Mode as lightweight markup language (see [SD11] for a general introduction to Org Mode). The “natural” text editor for Org Mode is GNU Emacs but other editors can be used as well (e.g., Org Mode for Vim).
With emacs-reveal, HTML presentations based on
reveal.js are generated from Org source
files. Thanks to features of the HTML presentation framework
reveal.js (with plugins) and Org mode, usual and advanced
presentation features are provided (e.g., animations and slide
transitions; speaker’s view with preview, notes, and timer; embedding
of images, audio, video, mathematical formulas; table of contents;
bibliography; keyword index; hyperlinks within and between
presentations; themes for different styling; responsive design with
touch support; quizzes for retrieval practice; code highlighting and
evaluation for programming languages).
For the above OER presentations, the generation of
presentations happens automatically in a continuous integration
infrastructure of GitLab based on a special Docker image (about
details of which the users of emacs-reveal do not need to know
- [HWS+10] Hilton, Wiley, Stein & Johnson, The four ‘R’s of openness and ALMS analysis: frameworks for open educational resources, Open Learning 25(1), 37-44 (2010).
- [Lec19] Lechtenbörger, Erstellung und Weiterentwicklung von Open Educational Ressources im Selbstversuch, MedienPädagogik 34, 101-117 (2019).
- [Roc01] Rockley, The Impact of Single Sourcing and Technology, Technical Communication 48(2), 189-193 (2001).
- [SD11] Schulte & Davison, Active Documents with Org-Mode, Computing in Science Engineering 13(3), 66-73 (2011).