Lo-Fi Learning in a Time of Global Pandemic

Published by J. Gregory McVerry on

Image: IndieWebCamp NavrongoCreative Commons (BY-SA-NC) license by Sadik Shahadu

Help combat the growing global inequities in online learning during this global lock down. Access to education, on a healthy and accessible Internet, is a human right denied to many during the COVID-19 crisis. Please endorse this proposal.

IndieWeb Navrongo

Do you want an endorse this project? If so, just tweet about it and include a link to the post in your tweet. If you have your own website, and support webmentions, just send a reply to this site as an endorsement. If you do not have a website and do not want to use Twitter you can use This allows you to send an anonymous webmention as an endorsement (or with critical feedback). Moments of crisis require action. Help us fight global inequity in education.

Describe your open source project. 

What is it? What are its goals?  If you are requesting COVID-19 Solutions funding, how will your open source project address the immediate needs caused by the pandemic? How will you deploy your solution?


For weeks we planned the event. Leaders trained under the Mozilla Open Leaders X were about to host a conference on open source learning. Sure the team felt bummed the COVID-19 crisis chased everyone indoors and isolated everyone. We moved to a remote online meeting as the world shelters in place. We fired up Google Hangouts. Nothing, no signal. Zoom? Again, zippo. The people of Accra, Ghana simply did not have equitable access to learning tools. 

Across the globe the majority of schools have shuttered. Students log on to proprietary Google software, hop onto a Zoom video chat, record and edit video, and engage in live sessions.
Unless you live in the global south or in rural and urban centers of developed nations. Then you have nothing. Congestion on the local networks has ground the Internet to a screeching halt. For many people the Internet is not healthy enough for learning.


This project seeks to enhance the Known LMS, an OSI licensed software maintained by the Known Open Collective. ​Once funded, this project will allow for the continued development of lo-fi courseware ( see:​) that people across the globe can use to to try and minimize the disruption to education.

We want to create a remixable, HTML first approach to designing learning experiences that also respects user privacy and aligns to the Mozilla Manifesto.

First and foremost we want learning tools that are resilient, accessible, and sustainable. The current path around remote learning provides none of these options to a majority of the people across the globe. Synchronous learning and events must succeed in lo-fi and no-fi locales during the global lock-down. This is a human rights imperative. To this end we hope to use  open source tools that allow everyone to participate in the networked world of learning the pandemic has forced upon everyone. Our project will result in a free open source course builder anyone can use to export and host a course using HTML. We want to help launch 
 promotes instructional design of Open Educational Resources  as a public resource.

We also hope to support a healthier internet by building our learning module on a philosophy of "Domain of One's Own." Our learning stack begins with each student having  their own url and syndicating to a class feed. This empowers the learner to own their story outside of corporate control. Using our open source learning tools any Mozillian can run an event and provide a website to participants. The participants complete tasks and then syndicate responses back to a class feed using W3c recommendation specs around webmentions. Our project will result in improvements to existing open source tools, created and supported by the Known Open Collective, that will allow for lo-fi synchronous events to syndicate across the web.

We want to provide short term hosting solutions for learners around the globe who may not be able to afford bandwidth, urls, and storage. As part of this project we will fund infrastructure to host material for three years after the COVID-19 crisis and all material, unless specified by the learner, will get syndicated to the Internet Archive. This project funds the DevOps necessary for Beanstalk deployment using ec2 for plumbing and s3 for storage. The goal is to create a one button install. Each organization or team who requests hosting, based on available fund will be able to deploy secure instances for all their learners. Funding for this project will cover three years of hosting for any learning organization outside of formal education in North America, United Kingdom, or the European Union.

Even with a congested connection many people around the globe will have no internet access. As part of this project we will adopt an offline first approach to the Known learning tools. The majority of the world will not have access to the high bandwidth video classrooms being deployed. Funding for  from this project will help develop the service workers to allow for offline first learning.

Finally this project will give students  and teachers the tools to support learning through best practices in learning sciences in high quality feedback. The simple instructional design embedded in the courseware of  read, write, and participate got refined over ten years of design work at the Mozilla Foundation. Beyond predictable simple designs we know drive learning this project will also fund the development of APIs and data visualization tools that will allow for the integration of the Rubric Systems built into ReVIEW Talent Feedback System. This will provide ready built tools to help teachers assess students and drive learning. Funding for this project will be used to transition ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to an Open Source License and write data sharing APIs to encourage interoperability, innovation, and decentralization.

Describe the purpose of your funding request.

What are the key deliverables? What are the core milestones towards accomplishing the deliverables?

This project will result in four core deliverables that will help alleviate the education human rights crisis being unleashed by the COVID-19 environment. Each of the deliverables was broken down into a  series of epics. Each epic was then scoped into a Version O and a Version 1 milestone. We will create:
  • Offline first learning management system, 
  • Scalable shared hosting for out-of-school networks, and schools of the Global South
  • HTML based remixable course builder
  • Open source coaching, feedback, and assessment system

Offline First LMS
Develop a service worker for offline support of posts, replies, and status updates. This will require developing paths to offline pages and refactoring database webhooks. Known already supports offline auto saving of articles. Much of the work towards offline first through the use of serviceworkers is in a state of development. We will also integrate a social reader that allows for offline reading and the syndication of posts between readers. Much of this code is already developed. By choosing to work with a mature FOSS platform we hope to impact a large number of learners impacted by COVID-19.
  • Create offline paths for pages
    • v0 Milestone 2020-04-24
    • v1 Milestone 2020-05-24
  • Create webhooks for database support
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-01
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-01
  • Create micropub support for cache of drafts
    • v1 Milestone 2020-05-30
  • Social reader core pub/sub
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-15
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-15
  • Social reader integration with community service
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-15
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-15
  • Social reader IndieAuth integrations
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-15
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-15
  • Social reader web app
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-15
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-15
  • Social reader service worker infrastructure
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-30
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-30

Scalable Shared Hosting
Create the ability to offer shared hosting for your organizations, out of school learning spaces, and schools located outside of North America, United Kingdom, and the EU.The Known Open Collective has already made great strides to allow for scalable shared hosting. Using a grant from the University of Connecticut we created OAuth log in support. We have also refactored our Amazon S3 plugins in preparation to bringing the platform to scale.
  • Database back-end refactor for scalable cloud service
    • v0 Milestone 2020-04-24
    • v1 Milestone 2020-05-24
  • Service infrastructure (cloud hosting & orchestration)
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-01
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-01
  • Core platform API support: Activity Streams & xAPI
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-15
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-15

Remixable Course Maker
We have already released a beta version of our course builder as an Open Source tool. As part of this project we will create the plumbing and infrastructure to allow for syndication and the export of an HTML version. We want to ensure students and teachers cut off from face to face teaching can shape their experiences on it.
  • Prepare stable release and Composer updates
    • v1 Milestone 2020-04-15
  • Add syndication as a micropub client
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-01
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-01
  • Create and integrate HTML sanitizer and export tool
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-05
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-05

Integrate Rubrics from ReVIEW Talent Feedback System
ReVIEW Talent Feedback System is a teacher instructional capacity system that works closely with the Known Open Collective. Through grants from Southern Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut, ReVIEW has developed and deployed open source code back to the collective in terms of OAuth and the Course builder plugin. Our final deliverable will spirit ReVIEW Talent Feedback system to an Open Source Tool and allow data sharing through APIs. This will allow us to create  response to the humanitarian public resource depends upon interoperability
  • Remove third party dependencies to transition to open source license. 
    • v0 Milestone 2020-04-24
    • v1 Milestone 2020-05-24
  • Create APIs for each form field for JSON exports
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-01
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-01
  • Integrate R engine for calibration and scoring
    • v0 Milestone 2020-05-15
    • v1 Milestone 2020-06-15

How will your proposed project impact this focus area? How will you know you have succeeded in having this impact?

Our proposed project will help alleviate the inequity the majority of the world faces when it comes the mass shift to remote learning. We will provide youth organizations and schools free course ware and shared hosting for those unable to afford the infrastructure during the COVID-19 crisis.

In order to measure the impact of our four core deliverables we will conduct a  usability and feasibility study:
    • How do participants  in three different educational settings utilize or Open Source LMS?
    • Can the product be scaled at a global level?
    • Does the addition of social reader lead to increased engagement and creation of learning materials?

To answer the first question we will identify three participant settings for a case study. Using a mixture of cognitive labs and feedback panels we will track patterns of tool use to help as iterative feedback in between v0 and v1 milestones. We then conduct another round of cognitive labs v1 milestones. We will also examine the frequency of posts and parse a random sample of writing to see if students begin to write more and use HTML elements with greater frequency.

To answer question two we will track the install base of the Courseware plugins and the number of HTML course downloads. Each original course will have a webmention endpoint which will help provide a rough estimate of how courses get remixed. We will also be tracking the cost of the shared hosting environment.

We know that social presence allows students to thrive in remote learning. As we practice greater physical distance we want students to engage socially. To answer the third questions we will track the impact of the use of the social reader in online classes through self report surveys.


-Shared Hosting 15,000

All numbers based on the provisioning of ec2 instance and an s3 bucket for each account utilizing a Beanstalk. We estimate a cost of $5,000 a year and want to provide guarantee hosting for three years. Once our accounts project greater cost than $5,000 per year we will have to remove additional sign ups without further donations. We will aggressively seek donations. Any unused funds will be returned to the Known Open Collective.

-DevOps 5,000

Create the AWS environment for rapid deployment. The rate was determined at 60 hours at a rate of $75.00 plus monies to advertise for the position. The role of the person will be to set up a Beanstalk deploy with an S3 backend, maintain any certificates, and handle new client deployments.

-Data Science Engineer 10,000

Allow for the integration of Known LMS with the assessment systems of ReVIEW Talent Feedback System. Calculated as a rate of $100 an hour for 100 hours. Create the API endpoints to allow for transfer of JSON files between Known and ReVIEW Talent feedback system. Develop the APIs for any form input field in ReVIEW. Integrate an R engine, create basic models for assessments. Implement data visualization tools.

-Known Open Collective Developer(s) 15,000

Lead the integration of Known system and deploy code as quickly as possible to address the  humanitarian crisis of education caused  by COVID-19. This is will cover 200 hours at a rate of $75.00 an hour. Up to two developers who already have the experience in developing for the Known Open Collective will lead the development of the offline first LMS and the open source course builder.  The hours were estimated by examining each milestone and rating them in terms of complexity and impact to the overall project. Each goal was then estimated in number of hours.

-Project Manager 5,000

A project manager will be added to the grant to support the overall mission and ensure the widest impact of our goals. It was calculated at 50 hours at 100 an hour. They will be responsible for all recruiting, invoicing, account sign ups, team meetings, and budgeting.

Do you want an endorse this project? If so, just tweet about it and include a link to the post in your tweet. If you have your own website, and support webmentions, just send a reply to this site as an endorsement. If you do not have a website and do not want to use Twitter you can use This allows you to send an anonymous webmention as an endorsement (or with critical feedback). Moments of crisis require action. Help us fight global inequity in education.


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