A Few Updates (with Gutenberg!)

Well happy Friday everyone. I have a lot to share, too much for one post. But I thought I better share something, get back into that blogging habit. And I’m happy to say this is my first post with Gutenberg.

I had heard of Gutenberg, WordPress’ new editor, for awhile but it wasn’t until WordCamp Sydney that I saw it in action. Luke Carbis’ keynote on Gutenberg was pretty amazing; enough that I downloaded the plugin and started having a play. But this is my first Gutenberg post. Like any change, it will take a while to get used to it, but I like the new flexibility that it affords me.

Whatcha been working on?

The Ruins of Saint Paul, from our recent trip to Macau. Not relevant to the story, but I’m loving Gutenberg’s varied blocks, so of course I need to add an image here.

So, I have plenty of blog posts piling up, but what have I been doing as of late? Well, as you know I’ve been working on the SMS Project here at TAFE and it’s a ridiculous mountain. You’ve heard of SMS right? The Student Management Services (SMS) Project is a very large project to bring all of the various TAFE NSW systems under one roof as part of One TAFE. And my little tiny roll in the project is that of Learning Designer; I’m part of a team that will roll out training to TAFE NSW employees on the new systems.

And what about my unique skills, how am I contributing? Well, originally I applied on the strength of my Moodle skills; our online training is being delivered by Moodle and I’m that expert guy on the team. But I actually have been doing so much more that I don’t often actually touch Moodle. I’m writing (along with the rest of this great team) User Guides and Work Instructions on the new systems.

We went live with Release 2 in June, and we’re now working on Release 3. So, with the tiniest amount of slack time, I’ve been working on some tools to help the rest of the team maintain the R2 and R3 Moodle sites into the future.

This has been somewhat of a side project since I arrived in November last year. Although Moodle has some great tools out of the box, we are in a situation where the theme for the Staff Moodle has been… (moments pass as Scott looks for diplomatic words) …well it’s all kind of dull, generic, bland.

So I began work on the Marcus Clark Moodle theme (named after our building). Like all works of art, it remains unfinished. It was a long shot to think I could get a hand written theme vetted and installed anyway.

Doing More with LESS

So perhaps a theme is a big ask. But what about a custom CSS file? I began boiling down the look and feel that I was looking for into a CSS framework. This is something I’m quite proud of, and yet, I fear will never be used. I defined how blocks and tiles could be used in our course based on both some brainstorming sketches our graphic designer was working on, and how existing image tiles were being used in our courses. We all hate text in images, right?

The LESS logo
LESS

As part of this, I began to experiment with LESS to make my spaghetti of CSS files into something more manageable. Why LESS and not SASS or something else? Easy: I can’t install software on my work computer and I already had Dreamweaver CC installed, and Dreamweaver natively supports LESS. I quite enjoy LESS, although it did take some time to get used to.

As part of putting together my designs, I downloaded Font Awesome‘s LESS and reverse engineered a few of those into my SMSTile framework. In fact, one of the ideas I blatantly stole borrowed was using a variable for the prefix. You can change FontAwesome’s .fa- to .whatevs- if you desire. I thought at some point perhaps my custom CSS would get adopted by the rest of TAFE NSW, so the ability to quickly change .sms- to .tafensw- might be appreciated.

Next week, I’ll introduce you to the next step: The Tile Builder! (And hopefully the Box Builder too.)

Now for Something Completely Different!

The Edtechposium CFP ends soon! Submissions close on Monday August 20th.

https://twitter.com/EdTechPosium/status/1030227798013575168

What’s Edtechposium? Well, you may know it as Moodleposium, and I’ve posted about it in the past. It’s an annual education technology conference in Canberra for the Higher Education and VET sector. Am I going? I already have my ticket!

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