ELI’s 7 Things about Domain of One’s Own

Well, Domain of One’s Own has finally hit the big time ? Earlier this week the 7 Things to Know about Domain of One’s Own case study was published by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. You can download it from their site, but I’m keeping a version here for posterity as well. I was lucky enough to work on the paper with Martha Burtis, Sundi Richard, Lora Taub-Pervizpour, and Keegan Long-Wheeler to brainstorm with ELI’s Malcolm Brown, Greg Dobbin, and Stephen G Pelletier to try and frame this in a way so that folks will get a sense of what it actually is. I really like the first paragraph of the “What it is?” because it captures nicely how Domains is a powerful combination of philosophy, practice, and tech:

A way of thinking as well as an application of technology, Domain of One’s Own refers to the practice of giving students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to obtain a domain with hosted web space of their own …. By enabling users to build environments for learning and sharing, such domains make possible a liberating array of practices that encourage users to explore how they interact with and present themselves in the online world. While giving users more control over their scholarship, data, and digital identity, these domains encourage an ethos of openness, freedom, and exploration and nurture a practice for shaping and thinking about one’s presence on the web. DoOO also draws users into a community of practice focused on collaboration and sharing.

These concepts were at the heart of the experiment when it started at UMW, and more and more schools are picking up on the simultaneously practical and idealistic vision of making the open web a viable platform for teaching and learning. That’s an awesome thing and can and should be celebrated. It’s taken many, many folks to make it work, and there is no way a two-page report will capture all the nuance and history, but it does an excellent job of providing a snapshot for folks who are dreaming about re-centering ed tech around student, staff, and faculty-centered web for teaching and learning. Avanti!

Berg Builds Community

It’s been a week of travel and on-the-ground work at Reclaim’s Headquarters in Fred Vegas, but I would be remiss if I did not share the awesome community portal the folks at Muhlenberg College have built with their Domains instance.

Community site for Berg Builds

It’s a beautiful thing, scores of featured sites  around the community that can be filtered by a few key categories such as research, travel, portfolio, student, staff, faculty, etc. The screenshot above does not capture the long scroll of sites that provides an instant sense of just how much work is happening in the Muhlenberg community, and for me that is everything. I continually return to the idea that these educational publishing platforms are at their core a way to reveal the life of the mind of a community, and Berg Builds has nailed it. From what I understand the great Tim Clarke is behind this project, and he has really done a brilliant job, simple, elegant, and sensitive to the issues that surround be out there in this day and age. 

The opt-in/opt-out form does a nice job of inviting submissions as well as providing a place for users to remove their work if need be. And the blurb introducing the form lays it all out:

We try to keep up with all the great work happening on Berg Builds domains. But sites come and go, people wander, the world forever marches onward. If we’ve missed your site and you would like to be included in this community, please use the opt-in form below and let us know!

Working on the open web adds our voices, knowledge, and experience to the greatest collection of human creativity ever known. But we understand that folks seek visibility of their work on the web in different ways. While we encourage everyone to share their creations within our Berg Builds Community site, we also understand that you may have reasons why this doesn’t feel right. If you would like to have your site removed, please use the opt-out form below and we will honor your request.

I remain a true believer that working on the web can provide a unique space to share our work, and I also believe there is a special place on the web for higher ed given its foundational role in help shaping the internet. That said, we know the other side of that coin all too well these days, which makes the work Muhlenberg is doing to highlight the good work folks are doing all the more special. Opening up the inscrutable black box that is web hosting for discovery and connections is an act filled with hope and promise—it’s hard not to feel inspired.

I am looking forward to a play-by-play of this project, and imagine it’s either already published or on the way. And hey, there may even be a presentation in the works for Domains19—ya never, never know!

Practical Advice for Running Domain of One’s Own

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I spend some of my time these days giving sage advice; us thought leaders do that from time to time—consider it a fringe benefit of staying my ass in school. Anyway, I was asked how I would approach framing a Domain of One’s Own initiative to convince admin this is valuable, and my take is fairly simple: it’s cheap as hell and can actually conform to and be driven by the needs of your community. So below is a quick copy and paste of my advice column email because I can:

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Reclaim the Portfolio

A university contacted me earlier this week to see if we had anything their faculty might be able to play with in terms of portfolio solutions. Tim Owens created the amazing State University as a demo site for anyone interested experiencing what a Domain of One’s Own package would be like. I took the opportunity to create a couple of quick tutorials and borrow a couple more to showcase how one might imagine web hosting in terms of a portfolio—Documentation December in action!. Below are the first wave of resources I created on the Reclaim Hosting site here. I plan on regularly updating this page with more focused resources given this quick quide is focused specifically on customizing WordPress after it takes you through the minute and a half it required to get an account and install WordPress. Damn we are good!
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appboxKeep in mind that Reclaim Hosting is first and foremost a web hosting platform that allows students, staff, and faculty to build their digital presence online. In this regard it is by no means limited to portfolios, you can use it to create anything from course hubs to research sites to personal blogs and much more. At the same time, it provides several applications commonly used for portfolios in higher education, such as WordPress, Omeka, and Mahara to name just a few. What you get in a portfolio from Reclaim Hosting versus specific portfolio tools like Digication, Chalk & Wire, etc., is choice and possibility. You are not limited to a specific, proprietary system; you can customize your portfolio with thousands of freely available themes and plugins; and, finally, you have access to software that is popular, portable, and affordable.

In order to get a sense of how Reclaim Hosting could provide a portfolio solution for your university, we have created State University. StateU provides the opportunity to experience how getting access to a domain and web hosting would work at your school.

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Signing-Up at StateU

The following video will demonstrate how easy it is to get up and running with a domain and web hosting on StateU.


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