Drupal Open Learning Initiative

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There are many great Drupal learning resources, groups, and tools but they can be somewhat disconnected and spread out. Our goal is to unify and bring these efforts together to provide a complimentary program and platform that serves all Drupal learning initiatives needs and efforts.

Drupal Open Learning
Drupal Open Learning is a new project learning program that provides hands on training in a wide range of areas ranging from site planning, drafting proposals, project management, information architecture, development, design, infrastructure, to business and community. It does this by pairing apprentices with a mentor or mentors, thus gaining exposure to real-world scenarios and connections with the local and global community. The knowledge transfer allows apprentices to become proficient, contribute back to the community, and retain the skills for gainful employment in the field of their choice.

Drupal Dojo
The evolutionary stages of the program seeks to follow through with the Drupal Dojo 2.0 vision by building off complimentary sites and collaborating with existing teams. A collaboration with the Open Media Project will provide a unique opportunity to craft a custom program to provide development help, training, and documentation and marketing on a regional level.

Program Goals

Sustainable project learning and training program for Drupal
Our primary goal is to create a sustainable project learning and training program for Drupal. We will provide hands on training in areas ranging from site planning, drafting proposals, project management, information architecture, development, design, infrastructure, to Drupal workflows and community.

A Drupal based learning and collaboration platform
An effective platform to provide free online training, mentoring, and a showcase for Drupal (drupaldojo.com), and ultimately a customizable installation profile freely available on drupal.org.

Complete set of training materials and documentation

Program Benefits

How does this compliment related Drupal learning initiatives?

  • Open and agile - The program is open to anyone with a desire to learn and contribute.
  • Continuous and sustainable - It will do this by allowing multiple stakeholders to support development projects they care about. Allocating funds to administrators and mentors will ensure stability and a high level of training. open to anyone who wants to receive hands on training (i.e. it is not an internship just for students).
  • Local - The program strives to match apprentices with mentors in the same geographic area. This will enable interaction with each other, local Drupal groups, and companies who would like to provide on-site mentoring.

How will this benefit the Drupal project and economy?
First and foremost, the program will address the increasing talent shortage on multiple levels. The emphasis on local outreach will strive to identify and attract students, hobbyists, professionals in other fields, and those looking for new career skills. The continuous nature of the program will allow for increased collaboration and relationships between developers working on similar projects. With all code, documentation, and training materials freely available, there will be increased collaboration between users and stakeholders with similar goals. The Drupal Dojo will provide an effective platform to for real-time collaboration, mentoring, and a showcase for Drupal learning and marketing materials.

How will this benefit individuals and users?
Providing open source code, training, and documentation allows open access to powerful tools for digital publication but also the knowledge how to use them.

A capstone project

Our initial goal is to create a curriculum and complete set of training materials derived from the process of building a website.


The initial phase of the project will be considered complete when the program is sustainable and the capstone project is complete. We expect this to happen in phases over a four month period.

Phase 1 - DrupalOpenLearning.org
Phase 1 will create a site to facilitate collaboration and documentation of our project and curriculum. It will also serve as conduit to collect funds and credit sponsors. This phase will be completed over a two week period by building off the new planning and collaboration platforms Spezzle and Open Atrium.

Phase 2 - DrupalDojo.com
Upon completion of Phase I (drupalopenlearning.org) we will set up a project to facilitate collaboration and documentation of Phase 2. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we will again be building off a complimentary project, but also interfacing with their team to provide development help, training, and documentation and marketing on a regional level. In collaborating with the Open Media Project, we'll be building off a product that's already received a great deal of financial and time investment.

Documentation, collaborative workshops, and learning materials derived from the process of building the website. This will provide hands on training in areas ranging from site planning, drafting proposals, project management, information architecture, development, design, infrastructure, to Drupal workflows and community. (approx. 15 sessions)

Project Implementation and Distribution

  • Install profile and configuration patterns will be available on drupal.org
  • The collaboration portal will be available as a hosted solution (TBD)
  • Any new modules, themes, site recipes, and documentation developed will be available on drupal.org
  • All learning materials, curriculum, courseworks derived from the development will be in the drupal handbooks, drupaldojo.com, and distributed around the web.


This is an open community initiative - key participants so far have included:

Budget estimate

We estimate a total of 60 man hours/wk over a 4 month period for a total cost of 60k would be required to accomplish our goals. The following is a breakdown on how we plan to recoup our cost -

  • $45k from corporate sponsorships and partner contributions
  • $5k from individual donations
  • $10k from the Drupal Open Learning program - tbd% of any project will be allocated towards ongoing program administration (related thread here)


Does this seem valuable to the community?

gusaus's picture

A main goal of this initiative is to create a framework for an ongoing, sustainable project based learning program. While we'll be building/contributing some valuable tools as a result, we want to ensure that the community will actually use and benefit from the platform and program. This proposal needs to clearly get these points across and sell the community, sponsors, and stakeholders on the value of the initiative.

As this is a first run at the proposal, I'm sure there are some holes. Similar to KDI, community feedback and suggestions are strongly encouraged.


Gus Austin
PepperAlley Productions

Gus Austin

A central catch-all is a

WebmistressM's picture

A central catch-all is a good idea. It would help to link them using taxonomy and terms maybe to also highlight some lessons within each level of expertise (beginners, intermediate, advanced) and maybe also another section in the site that is oriented towards an end user who is less geared towards a certain education level, but might need to know more about the social aspect of drupal or how to set up a store, etc.

Drupal can be overwhelming, especially to the newbie so organization of the external sites and these highlights would be extremely important. Later, if we were feeling really ambitous and we got a big enough response, maybe we could get Drupalists to schedule a tutorial lesson time for those who like a bit of hands on. Hope that wouldnt be overkill but I do see this site to have potential beyond just being a central "hub" of information.


Separation of program and platform (for now)

gusaus's picture

The majority of whats in this proposal takes into consideration lessons learned from the Drupal Dojo, GSOC, GHOP, and related initiatives. There are many ways to learn (watching, listening, doing, etc.), and a variety of approaches that work best for particular situations and people. The goal here is to facilitate and accommodate, rather than be an all-in-one program and platform.

So yes - the Drupal Dojo as a platform should provide an easy way to find the learning materials you need. It should facilitate collaboration and communication between individuals and groups. Similar to Open Atrium and Open Media (platforms in which we're building off), it should provide both the tools and knowledge that will enable 'anyone' to create their own learning channel or platform.

While we're also creating a homegrown learning program (Drupal Kata), the Dojo should be a valuable platform and enabler for multiple programs.

Ummm... not sure I needed to elaborate, but there are lessons learned from the Dojo trying to be too many things at once. Make sense?

Gus Austin
PepperAlley Productions

Gus Austin

Understanding the problem

mathieso's picture

Lots o' interesting stuff in this proposal. Kudos for thinking about this.

We should make sure we understand what the problem is. If the wrong lessons are created, or created in the wrong way, much valuable volunteer and learner time can be wasted.

Do we know what learning goals humans have? Do we know what problems they face?

It might be worth creating a survey or two, asking people who have learned Drupal about their experiences.

What do you think?

Kieran Mathieson

Kieran Mathieson

Diverse set of problems and solutions

gusaus's picture

Great points, Kieran - there's definitely a diverse set of problems and solutions. A good deal of this proposal is based on lessons learned from the following initiatives -

  • Drupal Dojo 2.0. - a perfect storm of early success, over-ambition, and no solid plan for sustainability
  • Drupal Learning Resource Center - a good plan to create a valuable learning resource, yet falls short on what to do with it and how to sustain
  • GHOP/DROP - a tremendously successful Google sponsored program that dropped off a bit when it attempted to continue on it's own
  • Google Summer of Code - a consistently successful program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source projects.

A major goal of this initiative is to figure out ways to engage the community, adapt to it's ever changing needs, and be accommodating and innovative. If we can reach a point where the program is sustainable, it could serve as a template for anyone who would like to craft their own.

Gus Austin
PepperAlley Productions

Gus Austin

Choosing the right starting point

mathieso's picture


Maybe the place to start with a learning initiative is not with the organizational structure, but with the outcome. Then work backwards.

A brief example. I'm creating CoreDogs, a site to help people learn to be Webers (people who get paid to do Web work). I started by asking two things:

What do people need to know to be Webers?

Answers to this came from the Web community (various surveys and opinions). Includes tech, but also includes understanding users, and appreciating business goals.

How could people learn those things effectively and efficiently?

This led to studying learning theory and research. There's a lot we already know about how people learn.

Only after looking at these two things could I start thinking about:

An organization that could achieve these goals.

In your proposal, I see the last one - the organization - coming first, without good information on 1 and 2.

I don't know the history of the Dojo, DLRC, etc. But I'm guessing that none of the leaders of those projects did much detailed spade work.

This isn't a criticism, BTW. AFAIK, very few people in Web education have done the spade work. It's just not part of most people's thought processes.

But if the detailed work was done, it might be possible to create something that has longevity, because it actually met the needs of learners, both in (1) what it taught, and (2) how it was taught.

Let me stop now, and make a concrete suggestion in a separate comment.

Kieran Mathieson

Kieran Mathieson

Reasons for the organization coming first

gusaus's picture

Good points again - trick is there are so many ways you can define Drupal learning and the needs of learners (and much more qualified people to do so, like yourself). The derivatives of this initiative (2 web platforms/products, learning materials/documentation, a model for sustainability) should provide some good building blocks for a variety of programs and approaches that target specific needs.

The initiative itself is really trying to reinvigorate and/or build off specific programs where the benefits/value has already been established. In each case, a structure for long-term sustainability has been elusive.

A quick look at the Drupal Dojo history should shine light on some of the success stories and illustrate some issues that come up when a grassroots experiment tries to reach the next level without a solid plan for sustainability. By removing the burden of being a learning program and producer of high quality learning materials, the Dojo should thrive as a collaboration space and curated learning repository.

The main problems with the Google programs come with the fact that not everyone is eligible and they are of finite duration. The Drupal Kata program looks to resolve those issues by providing benefits for apprentices, mentors, administrators, and sponsors. Volunteers will always be welcome, but we can't make this a requirement.

We're going to be doing a lot of research and revisions as we move forward. Under the context of these programs, a means for sustainability is on the top of the list for a reason.

Gus Austin
PepperAlley Productions

Gus Austin

Researching Drupal training

mathieso's picture

I'm a professor, with research skills in surveys, data analysis, and such. There are other profs in the Drupal community as well. See http://jolt.merlot.org/vol5no2/holton_0609.htm by Doug Holton for example. There are also some programming types in the Drupal for Ed group who work at universities.

Suppose a few of those humans worked with key humans in the Drupal world. It might be possible to get some research going that would (1) guide Drupal training plans, and (2) get some publications for the professor humans. Win-win. It would seem, anyway.

Companies like Lullabot and Drupal Easy might be particularly interested in the results, since Drupal training is their business. They might even help with data collection and such. For example, if you signed up for a Do It With Drupal workshop, you'd get an email with a survey.

Some specific research projects:

  • Create a taxonomy of Drupal roles: content creator, administrator, programmer, etc. Let the community drive the taxonomy; let it emerge from textual descriptions. How do Drupalists see themselves as fitting into each role?

  • What tasks do people in each role perform? How frequently? What is the relative importance of each task?

  • What skills are required for each task? How do people learn those skills? What barriers do they face in learning? What strategies have worked for them?

This information would let the Drupal community, and/or Drupal companies, understand training requirements. The next step would be to take those requirements, and use learning theory to design learning resources that are likely to be effective in meeting those requirements.

Just some thoughts.

Kieran Mathieson

Kieran Mathieson

My own behavior learning Drupal is interesting

dogsaint's picture

In Building an online learning site my own behavior learning Drupal is interesting

I have been working with Moodle for a couple of months and now I am trying to learn how to use Drupal. I have been seriously working at Drupal for about a week and it is frustrating. I too am interested in learning and teaching. I’m sure my behavior would be amusing to an experienced drupal user. One problem I have is that I do not know enough to understand when drupal’s misbehavior is caused by my lack of understanding or drupal is just not working. Drupal has a way of making my cheery mood droop, or is that Drup. I think a big part of making it easier to learn drupal would be to have a protocol for new users to clue them into figuring out when a problem is related to the system.

I have some ideas about answering this question
“What skills are required for each task? How do people learn those skills? What barriers do they face in learning? What strategies have worked for them?”

Strategies that have worked with varying levels of success
Behavior highly resistant to extinction.
A lot of exploratory behavior
A lot of time
Google – Google make learning Drupal possible

What would help
Good Up To Date documentation = Up To Date directions and instructions

I am all for developing interesting and effective ways to teach but if a person can’t get past the basics, all the fancy stuff will never be used.

If you work for a multimillion-dollar non-profit or school district, my problems are handed off to a department. But for those with a dream and a little ambition, well, we have to be every department.

Learning the basics

mathieso's picture

I am all for developing interesting and effective ways
to teach but if a person can’t get past the basics,
all the fancy stuff will never be used.

I agree with you entirely. Being effective means studying what people want to know, that is, a target knowledge state. Then creating a learning path from the start state to that state. Learners develop progressively more sophisticated mental models of Drupal (and its application to cases) as they go.

I don't know what that path is. But figuring out what the target state is might be a good place to start.

Like your user name, BTW.

Kieran Mathieson

Kieran Mathieson

Solid progress so far....

gusaus's picture

We're pressing forward with many of the objectives laid out in this initiative. To ensure the program is sustainable we'll be looking for sponsors as well as volunteers.

Re: All the great points about curriculum. Our intent is to create a framework and platform that can be customized to meet different needs.

Gus Austin

Drupal Open Learning

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