Domains21: Outside Their Domain

And let’s not forget the subtitle “Introducing German Higher Ed to Domain of One’s Own.” YEAH!  In their OERxDomains21 presentation Christian Friedrich and Katharina Schulz discussed their work to introduce the idea of a “Domain of One’s Own” to faculty and staff around Germany. They discuss the groundwork for getting academics to consider the possible benefits of exploring spaces on the web that provide a deeper sense of literacy, control, and application relevance. It’s a far-ranging discussion that looks at the real challenges of buy-in for a Domains project, which is nicely balanced with recalling that providing web space to academics and students has a long, rich global history that in many ways is the root of networked open education

The concepts and ideas around a Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) are not yet widely known or implemented in Germany. While there is a fairly strong ethos of independence in parts of Germany’s OER and ed-tech communities, DoOO has not gained traction.

In this session, we will present a project that started in February 2020. The project’s aim is to provide easily accessible information about DoOO as well as ready-made materials for those who would like to implement DoOO in their teaching. After basic research, we started by recording podcast conversations that explore DoOO from different angles, covering a student’s perspective as well as technical, didactical and strategic aspects. Based on these conversations, our own experiences with DoOO and available materials, we are developing guidelines and checklists for different stakeholders. The project Domain of One’s Own is funded by the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW HH) as part of the Hamburg Open Online University (HOOU), a cooperation of several institutions of higher education in Hamburg.

One of the impulses for our project was EDUCAUSE’s “7 Things You Should Know About a Domain of One’s Own”, which prompted the idea of producing similar materials tailored for the German Higher Ed landscape, while seminal projects at the University of Mary Washington and at Coventry University serve as important reference points. For the German discourse, discussions around digital literacies can provide a basis for starting the conversation about Domains.

In our pre-recorded conversation with Jim Groom, we share an insight into our experiences so far and talk about the challenges connected with advocating for a concept largely based on shifting control from teacher to student in a rather traditional higher education landscape like Germany. During the live session, we look forward to engaging with the communities around OER and DoOO by taking up questions and comments from the chat. With this session, we also hope to spark conversations around how to tackle more conservative spheres of higher education. Some of the questions that could be addressed are:

  • What can a conservative and largely publicly funded Higher Ed landscape gain from DoOO?
  • What kinds of reward structures, staffing structures, technological infrastructure and incentives are ideal for DoOO?
  • What kinds of success stories or good practices can you share about introducing DoOO?


EDUCAUSE (2019). 7 Things You Should Know About a Domain of One’s Own. [PDF] Available at: [Accessed 09 April 2021].

Coventry University Group (n.d.). Coventry Domains. [online] Available at: [Accessed 09 April 2021].

University of Mary Washington (n.d.). Domain of One’s Own. [online] Available at: [Accessed 09 April 2021].

Friedrich, C. (2019). Digital Literacies und Offenheit: Was wir tun, damit Menschen das Freie Netz formen können. [online] Available at: [Accessed 09 April 2021].

Domains21: Jelastic – a Look at the Technology Behind Reclaim Cloud

Keeping up with my OERxDomains21 syndication series, here is a another great session featuring Jelastic founder and CEO Ruslan Synytsky whochats with Tim Owens about all things Cloud.

In the Summer of 2020 Reclaim Hosting rolled out Reclaim Cloud -a next-generation hosting platform that allows faculty, students, and staff at educational institutions to run complex technology stacks with the click of a button. It’s a brave new world of virtualized, containerized infrastructure that in many ways changes what’s possible for ed tech and higher ed IT groups around the world.

Tim Owens chats with Jelastic founder and CEO Ruslan Synytsky about their cloud platform software and how it has enabled hosting companies like Reclaim Hosting to provide its customers a sophisticated and elegant cloud solution that provides them access to a whole suite of next-generation applications.

Reclaim Today Episode 30: OERxDomains21’s Headless TV Guide

For episode 30 of Reclaim Today Lauren, Tim, and I sat down with Tom Woodward and Michael Branson Smith to talk about the development of the headless WordPress conference website OERxDomains21 Guide. It was a fun one!

In this episode of Reclaim Today Lauren Hanks, Tim Owens, and Jim Groom of Reclaim Hosting chat with Tom Woodward and Michael Branson Smith about their development of the OERxDomains21 TV Guide-inspired conference schedule website. You can see the website here:

Jim Groom blogged about the development of the site a few times (he’s good like that):
“OERxDomains21: Reclaiming the Conference Experience”
“OERxDomains21’s Instant Archive”
“Design and Development Notes on the OERxDomains Guide”

Michael Branson Smith blogged about his work with javascript to do much of the time-based magic discussed in this video:
“This is Temporal Experiment Number One”

You can see the Luxon Javascript library here:
And the CSS text overflow here:

OERxDomains21 Love

Last week ended on a high note. We’d just wrapped up the OERxDomains21 conference a 2 day whirlwind of presentations, stories, shared moments, and lots of typing. I sat back in my “command center” in the Reclaim Conference room/studio and I was just amazed at the awesomeness that occurred over the last two days. Another conference in the books!

This was one of the first years where I wasn’t presenting at the conference. In years past, I talked about Scaling in the Open at OER20 and Growth through OER19.

Over the years this conference has always been one of my favorite times, to come together as a community to talk about the work that we’re doing in the community and surrounding the conference topics as well. This year they were:

  • Theme 1: Openness, care, and joy in the times of pandemic;
  • Theme 2: Open Education responses to surveillance technologies and data ownership in education;
  • Theme 3: Open in Action: open teaching, educational practices, and resources, how you might be using Domains and other tools;
  • Theme 4: Shifts in agency and creativity as empowerment of learners and educators;
  • Theme 5: Open Source Tools: infrastructure, cloud environments, targeted teaching tools.

There’s a lot to unpack there right?? There were so many amazing talks that I didn’t know where I wanted to jump in! Luckily the sessions were all set up to be recorded so they were all archived automatically. It’s literally like having a Netflix of OER to binge. I’m excited to catch up on it all.

OERxDomains21 took conferences to the next level– between the interactions in Discord, to the pre-recorded sessions that took the Domains to track to the moon, and the different topics of OER tracks 1&2 there was a blast of amazing work that’s been done over the last year and beyond.

This year, I stepped more into the role of staff where I produced the separate live streams behind the presentations. This was honestly such a fun experience. I’d taken video production back in 2016 when I studied abroad in London and spent time working in the UMW Production Studio as a DKC tutor and realized how much I enjoyed producing videos in general so I was super excited to be back in the back seat where I produced videos.

The Reclaim Studio Conference room– you can see bits of the green screen reflecting behind me

The planning went on behind the conference to ensure that everything was set up so that presenters and session chairs didn’t have to worry about recording the presentations was so smooth. That’s where myself and the Reclaim Staff and ALT Conference staff came in! We were the behind-the-scenes users where we coordinated and produced the presentations.

Working as the host for the conference turned out to be such an unexpected treat as well because I was on the schedule for a lot of presentations I wouldn’t have normally watched if this was a face-to-face conference.

One, in particular, by Virginia Rodés, described the digital divide that occurred in Uruguay when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country in her talk: Emergency, Openness and Agency: Adoption of Open Educational Resources and Repositories in Overcoming the Education Crisis During COVID-19 Pandemic by K12 Teachers in Uruguay.

The second was done by Sundi Richard and Autumm Caines, called the Use and Misuse of Care. Sundi and Autumm built out a website and twine game to narrate the student experiences when working with proctoring software during the pandemic.

I think one of the best parts about the conference was the use of Discord. Lauren Hanks developed the coolest Discord server for the event, making it the central hub for over half of the participants in the conference, most of which are still a part of the server after the conference!



I’ve used Discord a lot in the past for a lot of gaming communities and use it often for game nights with friends so I was super excited to jump into the conversations happening within the OERxDomains21 Community! (P.S. there is talk about maintaining the Discord server after the conference!)

It gave me some ideas on how to incorporate a server into the Reclaim sphere as well, so stay tuned for more info there!

Next, I want to talk about new experiences within the Reclaim Hosting crew! Isabelle Attard is one of our newest members at Reclaim and fellow UMW Alum. She joined the team in December 2020 and jumped into the OERxDomains Community with both feet. We were both working from the same ‘command center’ at the Reclaim office, enjoying our hosting timeslots and dance parties for KaraOERoke to kick off the event.

Seeing the community welcome newcomers like Isabelle is so heartwarming and makes me realize how valuable the connections are, virtual or not.

Reclaimers getting vaccinated
Reclaimers getting vaccinated


Finally, the classic Remixer machine was in full force as well! Bryan Mathers created a virtual nametag so participants could create their own badge. Here are mine!

Personal Conference Badge
Personal Conference Badge
Reclaim Arcade Inspired Badge
Reclaim Arcade Inspired Badge

Finally, we wrapped up the conference by talking through the Reclaim Hosting experience and what that looks like for the community and the company as a whole. It was such a fun conversation and a great Reclaim Today episode. Take a listen:


Featured Image Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

Reclaim Hosting does an OERxDomains21 Debrief

Several members of the Reclaim Hosting team who chipped into the OERxDomains21 conference effort took some time out yesterday to reflect on the experience for episode 29 of Reclaim Today. We did a similar therapy thing after OER19, so it was fun to capture our thinking the Monday after the conference and do yet another victory lap! WE DID IT AGAIN! WE DID IT AGAIN! WE DID IT AGAIN! WE DID IT AGAIN! WE DID IT AGAIN! WE DID IT AGAIN! …. plus I think these chats are fun 🙂

The Art of OERxDomains21

I am realizing I have not blogged that much about OERxDomains21, and given we now have less than a month to conference time, it is high time to change that. We have a lot of awesome things in the works, and with a preliminary draft of the conference program live, you can get a sense for yourself just how sick it is going to be.

Its exciting to see how many folks are joining us for this event, OER has become my favorite event over the last several years because of all the awesome people, and once again they’ve shown up ready to bring their A-game. YEAH! 

And there is a special feeling of excitement when folks like Eamon Costello want to have fun with the aesthetic we’re exploring. That is what it is all about,  and it will surprise no one to hear Bryan Mathers is behind those awesome OERxDomains21 animations you may have come across when seeing news about the conference. But if you haven’t seen them, well you are in for a treat, here are a few, the first highlighting the 80s neon aesthetic that Eamon references with the awesome Drive reference in his tweet. Synthwave, baby!

And there are also the test cards that are in many ways the defining aesthetic of the conference.

And finally we have my favorite, the Videodrome-inspired outtro wherein the viewer is consumer by the TV:

In fact, we had a rough idea the conference aesthetic could be framed around the retro TV idea when we approached Bryan to chat, but as usual he takes your ideas and not only fleshes them out but elevates them to the next level. The TV made sense given we knew this year would be online and video-based, and we want to give people a sense they could tune-in and out. And we knew we would have several tracks, so using the metaphor of channels was enticing (but more on that later on). In fact, we wanted to pre-record the Domains21 track entirely so we could free-up technical attention for the the two live OER tracks. It was a practical decision to balance workload and potential issues with live streaming—always having a pre-recorded channel to fall back to if there are issues is comforting. But an unexpected treat that came out of this thinking were the resulting animated intros and outtros for the Domains21 pre-recorded videos that are now awesome animated Twitter promos for the conference that gives folks a pretty powerful sense of what’s to come, as Eamon Costello demonstrated brilliantly. I’ve been using these intros and outtros during the production of the 25+ pre-recordings I am working through in Streamyard in an effort to make sure there is as little post-production work for these sessions as possible.

And the TV and all its surrounding artifacts have become fodder for a really cool metaphor. As the Open Community Production subtitle suggests, we wanted to play with the idea of public access TV, this is also present with the person be sucked into the TV outtro 🙂 But more generally, we wanted to try and capture a sense of a moment when there were just a few channels to choose and we all shared a limited sense of time and place within the glow of the CRT. The tracks become channels on a TV allowing folks to switch seamlessly between the various sessions, it is channel surfing in 1980!

Around the same time we starting considering where the TV would live and how the page would load. This led to discussions around ensuring the site doesn’t crash—that would not be a great look for Reclaim Hosting. I mean this vendor is putting it on the line!  The current OER conference site is running on WordPress, which is right up our alley, but Tim and I liked what the folks behind the Against Surveillance teach-in did with their website, they kept it a simple HTML page with the YouTube video embedded. If your page only has  HTML code and decent caching you can altogether avoid most load and database bottlenecks. If we couple that with seamless scaling on Reclaim Cloud we should be all set.

But once the idea of a straight-up HTML page was considered, we then got to thinking this would be a good use-case for some headless action. In other words, allow folks to add and edit speaker and presentation info using a WordPress backend, then pull the data out of using the WordPress APIs and pull it into a HTML/CSS/Javascript site with the video player. All the data will be entered before the conference, and any on-the-fly changes can be done in a way to minimize load and only pull when there are resources. this would ensure both the program and video player page can load reliably no matter what the traffic is (not to mention we can always point folks back to YouTube links should there be any issues). That’s great, but we had this idea with just 6 weeks until showtime, who you gonna call?  The A-Team! 

Click to see it in action

It helps to have a deep community, and immediately we thought of Tom Woodward to get the WordPress types pulling cleanly to a JSON file that Michael Branson Smith could use to build out the player and add the data with his mad HTML/CSS/JS skills. So good, and as we got to talking through the possibilities idea of creating the program/schedule as a TV Guide came up and it felt immediately like the front and backend of the conference platform was sealed. Artists on all sides!

The beginnings of a TV Guide program

The program is a work-in-progress, and we still have to do some testing and make sure all bases are covered, but I have to say watching this come together so quickly with so many folks I deeply respect has been a highlight of the process, the other highlight has been recording the awesome folks who will populate the Domains21 channel! If you look at the image above with the Player One and Player Two buttons try to imagine each of those buttons as a Conference sessions within a broader schedule page designed like a TV Guide. So, when you click on a session at the proper time you are taken to that channel of the TV. If you click on it before the time, we are figuring out if it should take you to the current session playing on that channel, which I think would be fun cause it allows for serendipity. These are things we still need to work out—but so far it seems pretty doable. And, returning to the Against Surveillance site, one of the elegant bits we love is how the video is immediately archived with a nice thumbnail with all the relevant data, which then lives on as an archive in perpetuity—however long that is. We will be able to do that for all 100+ sessions almost immediately with no extra work, which is insane. So the TV Guide/Program will live on as an archive of the conference moving forward, which I totally love. And thanks to the youtube-dl code we can ensure all the video and metadata are backed-up elsewhere in case YouTube gets cute, never trust our digital overlords!

I do need to blog a lot more about using StreamYard, but Tim, Lauren, and I spent close to an hour testing out all the possibilities and it really allows us to do everything we need—which is both awesome and a relief. I’ll try to blog that in more detail soon given if I don’t it will fade away into the rush of running the conference. What’s more, if everything works out I would love to have a post-conference chat with MBS and Tom Woodward about building the headless site because I really dig it, and it reinforces my belief that working from an aesthetic in many ways gives you the metaphors you need to get creative with the delivery, let the artists lead the way! But until then, go get registered for the TV event of the year 🙂

Known Issues with the Web Garden

I was looking through the UMW Living Room Console site while writing about the new posters for Reclaim Arcade. While doing so I came across a few broken links in the inventory, to my chagrin. Links such as this one  (which is not broken anymore) were pointing back to my Known instance that I ran for 4 years or so and then archived as HTML with site sucker.

Turns out all my images from Known were broken, and I think that has something to do with how Known writes those images (but will look into that in more detail this weekend). In the meantime I wanted to resurrect those images and luckily I kept an archive of my files and database, so I set that back up and everything was loading again. And that’s the story of how I temporarily fended off some link rot in my small corner of the web. Felt like the battle at Helm’s Deep.

The living room has loomed large in my mind these days with the opening of Reclaim Arcade, so making sure these images were available was important to me. But it was also interesting because while I was doing this Olia Lialina‘s article “From My to Me” has been resonating deeper and deeper. As Downes already notes, it is a great article and comes highly recommended, in fact my next post will be a deeper dive on the article given I even have a small cameo, but read it regardless of that oversight on her part 🙂 One thing she discusses is the harm the appification of the web has done to a broader sense of exploration, creativity, and wonder on the web, which is a sentiment I was discussing with Boone Gorges a couple of weeks ago when recording his session for Domains21. In fact, I am feeling a broader sense of ennui and general dissatisfaction with the mainstream web we have right now, it’s a real theme throughout the Domains21 recordings, which made me think Lialina’s article may be a kind of call to action:

Your resistance should not simply be a return to a Web 1.0 that never was in the spirit of “netstalgia,” but rather thinking creatively about what a return from me to my might look like when it comes to the spaces we inhabit on the web. For example, I would offer up Michael Branson Smith’s ridiculous beautiful HTML/CSS-based animated movie posters as a creative liberation of the form.

This in turn made me think about Lialina’s comment about WordPress being a horrible development for the state of the link on the web, which is something I have to follow-up on, but seeing that Known does not even link to image files which in turn broke the Living Room Console inventory gave me a sense of the legacy of broken links and dreams many of these apps hath wrought. I won’t go as far as to say it never should have happened, but with WordPress killing the classic editor by the end of this year I am looking to test my long-standing statement that the beautiful thing about my data in WordPress is it is portable, where can I put all the content in the should I finally decide to test out my own claim before year’s end?

Reclaim Cloud’s Got GLAM

I’ve been following Australian historian and hacker Tim Sherratt on Twitter for a while now, and his work with the GLAM Workbench is inspiring. GLAM is an acronym for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, and the workbench provides a series of tools Tim has stitched together to enable research across numerous collections in Australia and New Zealand so that scholars and students can do things with data.

I saw a mention of this work a few weeks back that piqued my interest, and the following tweet spurred me to follow-up on installing GLAM Workbench in Reclaim Cloud, so I gave it a shot.

I have to say it was quite easy to get up and running, and the documentation around this project is so robust that it also helped me finally get my head around how applications like Jupyter Lab, Datasette, and Voyant Tools might work together, which is huge for me.

It really was that simple, I created a new environment and used this script to import the YAML file with all the instructions for getting the custom Jupyter Lab notebook spun up. Literally one-click, which he has since integrated into the documentation so you can do this right from Github into Reclaim Cloud, which is so slick.

And as I noted, the JupyterLab was all set up and ready to go (it was behind a password given that was part of the customizations he built into his container):

The thing about the GLAM Workbench that pushed me beyond the straight install into exploring the app was the amazing documentation they created that seems to just be getting better.

I was able to wrap my head a bit around using Jupyter to run the Trove Harvester, which is essentially the tool that search across collections and brings back results, and then allows you to harvest text, images, and even PDF versions of the articles. All this is spelled out within the Jupyter Lab, and it allowed me to start digging in.

I did a search across the collections for references to home video rentals and got a solid 8000 hits. I’ll try and do a follow-up post about some of the awesome articles about home video in Australia, but let this page (and a few pull-out ads) suffice for now:

The article on silicon is pretty fascinating, but the ads tell a compelling story of the rise of the mom & pop video store. And this is just one of thousands, and tools like Datasette (which you can work with right from the GLAM Workbench) puts the search info into a database format, and something like Voyant Tools would enable you to visualize, so I actually started to wrap my head around this suite of tools.

This is amazing, but even cooler is that Tim has been hard at work and has updated the GLAM Workbench documentation to include a Launch in Reclaim Cloud link so that  script runs and you are up and running with GLAM Workbench in Reclaim Cloud, so cool.

And in all his copious spare time, he posted the details of his work creating an installer for GLAM Workbench on Reclaim Hosting’s Community forum which provides all the details, so thank Tim—this is above and beyond!

PeerTube, Sonic Outlaws, and UbuWeb

Over a week ago Tim got a one-click installer working on Reclaim Cloud for PeerTube. He got the details up on the Reclaim Hosting Community site already, so you can read more there.

PeerTube in Marketplace

PeerTube in Marketplace

Getting one-click installers working for a wide variety of apps is a big bonus of Reclaim Cloud, and between Azuracast and PeerTube we have the vertical and horizontal pretty well locked-in. I wrote a bit about my explorations with PeerTube already on this blog so feel free to follow that linked rabbit hole for more. But the long and short of this application is that you can upload videos to your own instance of a fairly robust Youtube-like interface. It has a growing peer-to-peer network, and one killer feature is that it can upload and archive just about any video on the web with a URL. I use it regularly to archive videos I watch online given the broken web copyright creates as a result of YouTube take-downs which highlights the worst of the service-centralized internet.

In fact, while Tim and I were working through the PeerTube installer I was watching the 1995 documentary Sonic Outlaws by Craig Baldwin. The copyright bugbear has been with us well before YouTube, and Sonic Outlaws focuses on the fallout of Negativland‘s  decision to parody U2.

Within days after the release of Negativland’s clever parody of U2 and Casey Kasem, recording industry giant Island Records descended upon the band with a battery of lawyers intent on erasing the piece from the history of rock music.

Craig “Tribulation 99” Baldwin follows this and other intellectual property controversies across the contemporary arts scene. Playful and ironic, his cut-and-paste collage-essay surveys the prospects for an “electronic folk culture” in the midst of an increasingly commodified corporate media landscape.

So, long story short, I wanted to see if PeerTube could use the YouTube-dl code to grab and upload the copy of Sonic Outlaws on UbuWeb, and turns out it can, the only thing is the metadata was not included, but that was fairly easy to fill in.

After that I got to thinking about the initial Tweet of this post from UbuWeb about downloading videos and not trusting the cloud.

I wonder if an application like PeerTube might help bridge that gap a bit by re-decentralizing the cloud so that folks could download and share collections like UbuWeb across numerous servers and local machines in order to not only build their own collections, but share them, and hopefully circumvent the copyright trolls that come with the territory of a centralized video service such as YouTube.

Reclaim Today: Jolie Tingen Talks Kits

028: Jolie Tingen Talks Kits

At the end of January I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Jolie Tingen about Duke University’s unique project Kits for episode 28 of Reclaim Today. I am intrigued by this project because Kits is a concrete example of what the oft-referenced Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) might actually look like. In other words, a learning environment wherein faculty and students can use a variety of tools including, but not limited to, the learning management system for the various courses they teach. The magic of Kits is the way in which they’ve worked through granular user management and single sign-on in order to make access to various teaching tools like Slack, WordPress, Box, and many others seamless and intuitive for their community. It’s the most fleshed out vision of the NGDLE that I have come across yet, and it was a real pleasure to hear Jolie frame Duke’s thinking around this tool.