Drupalversity, now with added simplicity and fewer unicorns

jim0203's picture

Early last year I submitted a post to groups.drupal.org about an idea I'd had for a new way in which people could learn how to do Drupal:

Drupalversity would address a number of shortcomings in Drupal documentation viewed on the macro level. There is tons of great documentation out there, both in the form of books and (usually free) online resources, but this documentation is, by and large, reactive. If you have a particular thing you want to be able to do with Drupal then it is often possible to find documentation that will help you do what you want to do and get your project finished. But if you just want to learn more about jQuery and how it works wit Drupal then things are less easy. Worse still is trying to answer the question, "I currently know X, Y and Z about Drupal - what should I learn next?".

The idea was well received and I spent as much of last year developing it as I could. Unfortunately I couldn't get down to actually deploying Drupalversity - 2010 for me was one of those years in which the old John Lennon saying, "life is what happens when you're making other plans", rang true far more times than I care to mention. Perhaps I should have guessed this would be the case when a volcano prevented me from getting to Drupalcon San Francisco :)

One things that has happened since I first proposed the Drupalversity concept is the arrival of the excellent Drupal Answers site on Stackexchange. To some extent this led me to wonder whether there was still a need for Drupalversity, but I've come to the conclusion that there is.

I've also realised that Drupalversity is such a specific idea that it's very difficult for me to explain it in a didactic fashion: and when I do try and explain it via question-and-answer, the idea itself tends to grow new offshoots and focus is lost. Heather James can probably vouch for that, if she remembers the somewhat circular Skype chat we had last year :)

A later conversation with Addison Berry over a few pints in a London pub - by which point I'd managed to distill Drupalversity to six A4 pieces of paper - demonstrated to me that the idea had developed sufficiently that it was at least partly communicable. However, the full extent of the idea can perhaps best be summed up by Addison's remark that "it's kind of like multiple pubs". We were sitting in a pub. There's probably a term in communication theory that applies to situations like that.

So, while I believe that the description of what Drupalversity in my original post is still valid, I now think that the roadmap for getting there needs to be radically simplified. In its first iteration, I would like to propose that Drupalversity should be a repository for learning resources that are available online. The technical aspects of building this repository seem relatively straightforward: a Drupal 6 site running flag.module, and an accompanying Javascript bookmarklet that allows for the easy adding of resources to the repository, a little like the browser plug-in that is available for Evernote.

Once resources are added to the repository, they will, in part, organise themselves organically: all else being equal, it's a reasonable assumption that if resource 'A' is added by one person and resource 'B', covering the same subject area, is added by ten people, then resource 'B' could be said to be ten times for useful. Furthermore, once resources have been added to the repository, trusted site members can go about categorising those resources and smoothing out any anomalies that arise.

I'd be interested to hear any comments anyone has on this, especially relating to ways in which the work that is proposed may be duplicated elsewhere on the web: the last thing I want to do, to smash together two analogies, is to re-invent the wheel and then try and push it uphill :)


I actually had a similar idea

linclark.research's picture

I actually had a similar idea with the JavaScript bookmarklet. I think that this is the best way to handle this, turning the Web into our Drupalversity.

repository for learning resources

Antonio Araujo's picture

Absolutely, Drupalversity => a repository for learning resources.
It makes more sense than trying to make all knowledge based solutions available in one place and it is more rewarding.

I think what we need is guidance and choices of information. What works for one person might never work for another.

By pointing to several knowledge based possibilities frees Drupalversity from having to write generalized texts that try to fit all knowledge seekers.

I suggest to open multilingual variants of the same information list, I mean, keep it in English but point to a different language version of the same subject, I'm sure contributors will find them and will be able to list them.

How to handle change.

DavidWheelerPhD's picture

I agree that Documentation and Training is a critical issue in Drupal adoption. The big problem I see is that everything changes so rapidly and not on a regular schedule. Modules change their user interface and features on an unpredictable schedule.

There will have to be a way to deprecate training and documentation that is out of date.

Actually, it would be best if the training and documentation were available by version that the person is using. For example, a person could say they are using Drupal 7 and Views 3 and only get training and documentation for those versions. D6 and Views 2 training and documentation would not show up for that person.

A big problem with searching the web or Drupal.org is that you get lots of hits for old documentation and training.

Eventually, this will have to be integrated with module development. A documentation person will have to be assigned to each module and that person will be responsible for making changes in the documentation and training with each release of the module.


See Drupal Open Learning Initiative

jhodgdon's picture

The Drupal Dojo folks are trying to do something like this -- you should join forces.

Their initiative is called the Drupal Open Learning Initiative.

At least, I think your two projects have the same objective and similar ideas? Worth a look anyway, and it would be a shame to do it twice.

Anyone interested in this

heather's picture

Anyone interested in this kind of idea should also check out the so-called "Boston initiative" and now at http://learndrupal.org/

Seems to be some more action about this, and people actively making it happen!

Curriculum and Training

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