Minerva Active Learning Forum
The Minerva Active Learning Forum is a real-time learning environment that gives Minerva students freedom to travel the world while taking classes. As a tiny team in 2012, we designed and built a seminar environment that was seamless and closely tied to Minerva’s Active Learning philosophy.
I had the privilege of architecting the Active Learning Forum from its inception, including the live seminar classroom and the asynchronous learning platform (courses system). I also wrote the initial functionality of both applications, onboarding team members via pair programming as the team grew.
I aimed to create a system where we could make interactive magic happen while evolving rapidly. I left room for flexibility in the system but also advocated for simplicity in code wherever possible. I avoided technology lock-in and kept the system modular, which made it easy to refactor subsystems as we grew. I also focused on robust data models, a modular user interface, performant real-time interactions, and an easy-to-understand system design. Some of the technologies used have been:
- Compojure, and then Django REST Framework, as the REST API servers, connected with Postgres
- Redis pub/sub, in conjunction with asynchronous Clojure and Websockets for real-time interactions
- A hosted video provider
Since 2012, the team and product have both grown immensely, and together we built build a remarkable, robust, seamless system to support learning at Minerva.