I wanted to make sure Adam Croom gets the appropriate love for helping several schools get up and running with Domains documentation over the last several months. More than a few folks have inquired if we had any recommendations for solid documentation, and it is hard to compete with the new and improved OU Create docs.* Once upon a time, before the Smallest Federated Wiki whisked Mike Caulfield away, we had an idea for federated documentation using DokuWiki, but that never came to be. There was some early momentum to prevent folks from reproducing the documentation wheel—but time, energy, focus, and squirrels got in the way.
More recently a few schools asked us if the could reproduce Oklahoma’s documentation and then customize it for their school, and it turned out that Adam had already done this for Middlebury’s Middcreate. So, he was kind enough to not only help out a few schools by porting over OU Create’s documentation site whole hog, but even wrote up a tutorial on how to do it.
Re-visiting how we re-use and remix documentation resources across schools running Domain of One’s Own will most definitely be on the Domains 17 conference agenda. I think this is something we need to revisit in order to make this much less arduous. Thanks again Adam, you rule.
* David Morgen did some amazing work with Emory’s documentation early and that was the inspiration to try and figure out how to easily share work between schools that wanted to share and re-user Domains documentation.
The idea of Reclaim Hosting as a kind of independent record label for ed-tech is an idea I’ve been playing with since a talk at Davidson College more than a year ago. This past fall Adam Croom and I explored it further in relationship to Indie Ed-Tech as a movement, which was punctuated by Audrey Watters epic, aspirational post on Indie Ed-Tech in December. About the same time I was talking with Bryan Mathers about using the logo he designed for us, which I love.
Continue reading “Reclaim Records”
Adam Croom offered up a hypothesis in response to my post about the “Long Short History of Reclaim.” He argues that as much as Domains at the University of Oklahoma is deeply embedded in a philosophy of empowerment, ownership, and experimentation, it’s also extremely useful. Who knew?!
OU Create for us has became a practical tool for our community as much as philosophical one. It is indeed an infrastructure that makes building full websites possible to a much greater audience.It also gives us enough slack to build in a plethora of digital literacy components. This complexity is highly valuable in serving a range of needs.
I think the practical component of folks having their own space to publish easily to the web has been a huge draw. Tim has made the whole experience so seamless and dead simple that someone can literally help themselves to an Omeka or WordPress instance (or both) on a brand new domain in seconds. This is where the practical meets good design to make a near perfect marriage. When you take someone through a demo they’re incredulous, “That’s it?” And we’re convinced we can make it even more streamlined. While we’re driven by the ideals undergirding reclaiming the web, we are also deeply conscious of the fact that good design with practical applications will make that vision a reality quicker than any of the rhetoric.
Another interesting post that dovetails with this idea is the great Tony Hirst’s “Getting Your Own Space on the Web.” Tony acknowledges the value of offering a space to folks who want to assume the responsibility of running their own applications for publishing to the web. But what about those who don’t?
What if you only want to share an application to the web for a short period of time? What if you want to be able to “show and tell” and application for a particular class, and then put it back on the shelf, available to use again but not always running? Or what if you want to access an application that might be difficult to install, or isn’t available for your computer?
I would add to this, what if the application you want to install doesn’t run on the widely popular LAMP stack we’ve built Reclaim Hosting on? This is where Tony’s explorations of virtualized server environments and containers over the last year have been fascinating. Tony has traditionally been the canary in the coal mine when it comes to pushing innovative edtech. The work he’s been doing and questions he’s been asking fit well with the work Tim and I having been pushing on for over a year (with some serious help from Kin Lane). How does this personal webspace also include virtualized apps and containers glued together with APIs to enable experimentation with a wide range applications across a variety of server environments and dependencies for short (or long) periods of time. How do we start realizing the possibilities of server infrastructure as a teaching and learning utility we can count on for fast, cheap, and out of control edtech?
Tony is thinking hard about how this effects deploying educational software for distance and online education, his role—assumed or official I don’t know—at the Open University. That practical use case provides some truly compelling challenges and possibilities for such work. The issue remains that it’s still not easy to work with virtual servers and containers, though Docker hosting services like Tutum are beginning to make some real headway in this regard. As my time at UMW comes to a close, more and more of my attention and focus will be pointed at this emerging virtual architecture of edtech, and what it might means in terms of the work we do at Reclaim.