I am currently working on a project where we are identifying building blocks that could be used to develop Digital Public Goods.
Digital public goods(DPG) are tools that serve to educate us, help us thrive in our professional lives, enrich our cultural experiences, and ultimately do good for the benefit of humankind. Examples of these goods exist all around us in the areas of information, education, healthcare, finance, and more. Many also serve to further the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
To contain the scope of the first “beta version” of DPG building blocks I have started with building blocks for Open Educational Resources(OER).
Open Source is defined as a corner stone of all DPGs, so I started working on a list of Open Source building blocks for OER.
Open Source for OER
Open source is software where the source code is available for anyone to view, use, change, and then share. Making source code publicly available allows others to build on and learn from it, enabling broad collaboration from people around the world.
Instead of starting from scratch, projects that are developing Open Educational resources(OER) should look for ways to adapt and enhance existing products, resources and approaches. An essential part of the term open innovation in the context of OER will be a community built on reuse and improvement of the existing source code, content and data.
Reuse means assessing what resources are currently available and using them to meet future goals. Improve means modifying existing tools, products and resources to improve their overall quality, applicability and impact. OERs should start by identifying relevant methods, standards, software platforms and technology tools that have already been tried and tested.
Examples of Open Source – DPG building blocks
There are hundreds of open source projects covering all aspects of DPG development. The most common building blocks of the internet are all open source, and most of them could be defined as DPG building blocks.
The two first examples in this category represent a more general group of platforms. The other examples aim to show the whole spectrum of software, design elements and components that could be defined as DPG building blocks and OER.
Open source development frameworks
Node.js, AngularJS and Bootstrap represent some of the most used open source development platforms and toolkits in the world. These are platforms used by thousands of projects, involving a large existing community of developers.
Open source content management systems(CMS)
A content management system or CMS is a software that facilitates creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content. WordPress is an example of an open source content management system, that allows you to create and publish your content on the web.
WordPress and other open source content management system could be defined as DPG building blocks.
The fundamental goal of the Readium project is to produce a set of robust, performant, spec-compliant reading system toolkits that support digital publishing formats (e.g. EPUB, Web Publications etc.) and can be deployed in browsers or built into native apps on iOS, Android or the desktop.
EPUB and the EPUBCheck
EPUBCheck is a tool to validate the conformance of EPUB publications against the EPUB specifications. EPUBCheck can be run as a standalone command-line tool or used as a Java library. EPUBCheck is open source software, maintained by the DAISY Consortium on behalf of the W3C.
Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. You can run it against any web page, public or requiring authentication. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more.
Material Design is an open source adaptable system of guidelines, components, and tools that support the best practices of user interface design. The Material design framework and community includes principles, examples, icons and open sources implementations like material-ui.com that support reuse and easy adaptation of Material.io.
Sector specific applications
In some cases, application features are specific for one sector, like education. Assessing what source code and resources that are currently available amongst sector-specific projects can be useful for a DPG project developing in the same sector.
Examples OER projects within the educational sector sharing code on GitHub: