Atomic Data for Education - standardized, modular e-learning

The Atomic Data specification can help make online educational content more modular. This has two direct benefits:

  • Separate learning goals from how they are achieved. Some might prefer watching a video, others may want to read. Both can describe the same topic, and share the same test.
  • Improve discoverability. Create links between topics so students know which knowledge is needed to advance to the next topic.

Modular educational content - a model

We can think of Knowledge as being building blocks that we need to do certain things. And we can think of Lessons as teaching certain pieces of knowledge, while at the same time requiring other pieces of knowledge. For example, an algebra class might require that you already know how to multiply, add, etc. We can think of Test as verifying if a piece of knowledge is properly understood.

Now there's also a relationship between the Student and all of these things. A student is following a bunch Lessons in which they've made some progress, has done some Tests which resulted in Scores.

Describing our educational content in this fashion has a bunch of advantages. For students, this means they can know in advance if they can get started with a course, or if they need to learn something else first. Conversely, they can also discover new topics that depend on their previous piece of knowledge. For teachers, this means they can re-use existing lessons for the courses.

What makes Atomic-Server a great tool for creating online courseware

  • Powerful built-in document editor
  • Drag & drop file support
  • Versioning
  • Open source, so no vendor lock-in, and full customizability
  • Real-time updates, great for collaboration
  • Online by default, so no extra hassle with putting courses on the internet

However, there is still a lot to do!

  • Turn the model described above into an actual Atomic Schema data model
  • Build the GUI for the application
  • Add plugins / extenders for things like doing tests (without giving the answer to students!)
  • Create educational content