Opencatechesis

Submitted by admin on Mon, 12/07/2015 - 05:13

Opencatechesis in an initiative to create a free opensource Catholic formation course and resources. While the opencatechesis.org website is live, there is not much there. Currently the action is happening on the mayostudios.org website where the first formation courses are being built and developed by the MAYO group with Robert Zaar as facilitator. Robert is using his web skills (self taught programmer in year 8, B. Eng (Hons) Melb. Uni and Semantic web researcher), his theological skills (Masters of Theology) and teaching skills (currently a teacher at Mazenod College) to develop a free online faith formation course. The content has been effective in developing the Mission Action Youth Organisation (MAYO) at Mazenod College where he teaches. 

Technically he is using Drupal since it has the power and flexibility to leverage current modules (openatrium distribution, quizcourseh5p check out the interactive video editor) and flexibility (CCK creates new content structures and relationships) to create a flexible yet powerful online education infrastructure. Thanks to the export feature in openatrium the content can be exported to other sites. Thanks to XML export it is possible to leverage current educational schemas to export the educational content and import it into other systems (though this will take some work). It is built in Drupal 7 which will be around for many years yet. Once Drupal 8 has sufficient features the content and functionality will be able to be ported.

Educationally, the content is being created in a flexible way to make the best use of the best available on the internet. Most of the content has been successfully taught at Mazenod College and found to be effective in inspiring and forming young men. The content follows a logical development (down), while providing options of going deeper with any particular concept (across). It does not just provide content, but the application of the content, the logic of the content and the source of the content. It therefore is open ended and is a path into the classics and great writers. It integrates the best books available on any particular topic and connects to the best videos, podcasts and articles available. Ultimately it will cover all aspects of faith formation. It is focused on a personal relationship with Jesus in the fullness of Catholic teaching.

Structurally, it links content, concepts and sources of content. It aims to only use creative commons resources and all content is creative commons. While it is based on the web, it is ready to have different export types such as a booklet for a small group, or notes for a speaker to present the content. These formats will automatically be available and content a full bibliography of all resources used. 

It is Free. Since it is all creative commons, you are free to copy, edit, publish the content freely. The content on created on the site is all free and so is free for you to even sell. 

Once the structure and content on the MAYO website (mayostudios.org) stabilizes it will be ported to opencatechesis.org. The functionality will be improved there to anyone can copy the content and modify it to suit their own audience or port it to their own site. Opencatechesis will keep track of the various versions of the content and therefore provide authors with current alternatives and a diff tool. Certain versions of individual content can be locked into an approved version. Opencatechesis will become a community of content writers and programmers working on improving the resources and experience of resource use.

As part of the development of the basic functionality, Catechism XML (once it is developed properly) will provide a variety of new tools that can integrated into opencatechesis. A deep linking of content based on Natural Language Programming tools (NLTK). A proper reference tool of content itself using Catechism XML. This then provides automatic suggestions of content based on the interest of the learner which also recognises the complexity of the resources and where the learner is at. In other words it can provide the foundation for using semantic tools (web 3.0) and thus to develop intelligent agents (Web 4.0)