A Trip to Wake Forest

Right after the Domains19 Conference, Jim and I had the pleasure of visiting Wake Forest University for a two-day workshop around administering their new Domain of One’s Own instance, Wake Sites. I always appreciate this one-on-one time we can have we schools when afforded the opportunity, and our time at WFU was nothing but productive and rewarding.

On the first morning, we met up with Carrie Johnston, Digital Humanities Research Designer at WFU, to get a lay of the land and take a quick tour of the awesome library which is connected with the Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Digital Scholarship space, and One Button Studio (more on that later).

From there, Jim and I jumped straight into a packed two days that covered everything involved in managing, supporting, and administering Domain of One’s Own. We worked with members from IS, DISC, and IT to look under the hood and conceptualize the technical and pedagogical elements that make up DoOO, and thought through how this initiative might have a lasting impact on WFU campus. On top of the fantastic turnout and conversation, we were stoked to find out that WFU has 14 (!!) instructional technologists ready to rock Domains. So cool.

Jim’s Post: Reclaiming Wake Forest
Carrie’s Post: A Week of Reclaim Hosting

This workshop also stands out to me as a personal favorite, because Jim and I were able to lean on the expertise of others by pulling them in remotely. On the first afternoon, Tim joined us on the first day to speak to Reclaim’s workflow regarding bulk migrations into Domain of One’s Own. On the morning of day two we brought in Lauren Heywood, Martha Burtis, and Alan Levine speak on their various experiences with Domain of One’s Own. Lauren spoke about the OWLTEH usage of SPLOTs, Coventry’s progress with DoOO, and different tools that Faculty are using beyond WordPress. Martha spoke about the DS106 Assignment Bank, her experience with UMW’s Digital Knowledge Center, and why there was a need for DoOO at UMW in the first place. Alan spoke about SPLOTs, Domains as a viable options for EdTech, and tools beyond WordPress.

Not only do I think that giving the folks in the room a break from listening to Jim and myself drone on and on, but the perspective that Tim, Lauren, Martha, and Alan brought to the conversation was invaluable and I’m so thankful!

I mentioned earlier that I had more to say about the One Button Studio.. and that’s because it’s so freaking cool! Taken straight from the website, “The One Button Studio is an automated video recording facility with a student focus…No need to mess with camera, lighting, or audio equipment. Just bring a USB thumb drive and the studio will do the rest.”

Brianna Derr, Manager of Advanced Learning Projects for Academic Technologies, gave us a tour of the One Button studio during one of our breaks and my mind was blown! I really love how dead simple it was to turn on the lights and begin recording almost immediately. The simplicity helped make the the studio space feel very approachable and doable for a newbie such as myself. Click here to read more about the One Button Studio mission!

A sincere thanks to Wake Forest University for hosting the workshop- Jim and I had a blast!

OER19 Notes, Thoughts, and Reflections

At the airport, on the way to OER19 in Galway, Ireland

I’m sitting in my home office, staring down at my little, blue notebook full of OER19 scribbles, and a bit in disbelief that the two-day conference has already come and gone. Last week I had the pleasure of returning to OER for the second time to participate in conversations surrounding this year’s theme: Recentering Open. I was also there to help represent Reclaim Hosting with Jim and Meredith, and I will speak more about that in a later blog post, as I really want to take the time now to spell out the various moments, phrases, images, and discussions that have continued to resonate with me over the last few days.

Getting seated on the morning of Day One

Naturally, I will start at the beginning. I really, really admired the way that the Co-Chairs, ALT Team, and NUI Galway framed the opening of the conference. Laura Czerniewicz told us to “…think beyond the easy optimism of open education,” which I thought was wildly refreshing. A representative from NUI Galway spoke about campus and conference values and pointed specifically to Respect, Expertise, Accessibility, and Sustainability. I was just recently nudged to include a Code of Conduct on the Domains 19 website, so having these values reiterated first thing at OER19 was a great way of tying into a personal lesson of mine. Finally, we were encouraged to step beyond our normal cohort of peers and attend sessions that we might not have considered otherwise. (Spoiler alert: I did this, and it paid off.)

“When hosts and guests meet face to face each must decide in that moral moment who he or she will be in relationship to the other.” – Arthur Frank, 2009

My slightly disorganized thoughts/notes from Kate Bowles’ Keynote, A Quilt of Stars: Time, Work and Open Pedagogy:

  • The expanding university means we must constantly perform a forensic analysis of the ‘closed university’.
  • Who writes the resources, and who receives them?
  • OER is currently a northern hemisphere movement- though efforts like Virtually Connecting are helping
  • I need to read The Ladybird Book of the Night Sky
  • The expanding university ‘experts’ communicate using Trade Data— “we are ‘ripe for growth'”
    • Uses trends and charts, which doesn’t capture all open practices
  • Open practice without Ethic of Care becomes an unfair absorption of time
  • Optimism is a discipline, not an emotion.

Feeling charged up from the keynote lecture, I attended the Amaz-Zine workshop hosted by Amy Burvall and Bryan Mathers on the communicative power of creating and sharing zines. After seeing a few examples, we learned how to fold a single piece of paper into a little 8-page booklet that would become our zine, and then began creating on the spot. You can see mine below: (P.S. We were also taught that zine art is a no judgment zone for artistic capabilities so I’ll let that extend to my readership as well, LOL.)

Later that afternoon I listened to Claire McAvinia speak about learning spaces in 2019, and her reflection on design and the use of physical learning spaces impacting how we learn. Does a more open learning space translate into more open practices?

Image via

She referenced this image from the 14th century by Laurentius de Voltolina and argued that our learning spaces still look very similar today compared to the above portrayal. Claire shared that this says something about the way that we’re teaching, and that we need to leave the age of ‘information poverty‘, in which the teacher has all of the information and the students have to ask for it.

While I no longer find myself personally working and learning in a classroom on a daily basis, I am always strategizing with instructional designers and campus administrators that want to think through learning spaces on their own campuses for peer-to-peer tutoring. I found the presentation fascinating for that reason.

Bonnie Stewart, Lawrie Phipps, and Dave Cormier spoke about a pro-social / pro-societal web in which they questioned the ‘pervasive surveillance and predatory practices’ that are normalized during our interactions with technology. They focused on the question, “Open for whom?” and ended with the argument that open is not the same as inclusion.

Lastly, I really enjoyed hearing from the folks at CUNY about their OER initiatives with Commons in a Box and Manifold. There was so much packed into the hour-long presentation, but my notes are as follows:

  • ZTC (Zero Textbook Cost) doesn’t automatically translate to OER, but it is a step in the right direction
  • Faculty have ‘Platform Fatigue’– being aware of this is important when extracting and unbundling data to create open experiences
  • Labor Problems (with Adjuncts, specifically): technologists invest time into adjunct training when there is no guarantee of contract renewal– this ties in with Bowles’ Ethic of Care
  • CUNY’s Commons in a Box OpenLab install sits on openlab.citytech.cuny.edu
    • Ability to clone Faculty Courses within the install for others to use- similar to cloning site templates/SPLOTs
    • Easily view Courses, Projects, Clubs, & Portfolios- a great solution potentially for schools wanting a Community Site
  • Manifold is an open publishing platform for the web that allows the publication of digital books
On our walk to the OER19 Venue in Galway

To say the least, I left OER19 feeling inspired by the conversations and new perspectives I was able to listen to and be apart of last week. I am very appreciative of the key values and themes that the OER19 Team made so readily apparent in every aspect of those two days, and it is my hope to extend them through Domains19 and beyond. Thanks for an awesome conference, OER19. I can’t wait for next year!

Michigan Domains Workshops, as told by Twitter

A few weeks back Jim and I had the pleasure of visiting two of our Domain of One’s Own schools, Lansing Community College and Michigan State University, for a good old fashioned pow wow. I had never been to Michigan before, so visiting in the dead of February after an arctic blast was everything and then some. We were fairly active on Twitter during our 3 workshop days, so I thought I might summarize the trip not with paragraphs of text but with a nice Twitter summary…

1-Day Workshop at Lansing Community College:

2-Day Workshop at Michigan State University:

Roadshow Website

To piggyback off of Jim’s recent post on our new Reclaim Roadshow artwork created by Bryan Mathers, I wanted to announce that the new Reclaim Roadshow Website is now live! I’ve worked on quite a few websites for Reclaim Hosting, and this Roadshow site is easily a favorite. Simple in concept, but the metaphor is so. good. I’ll share a screen capture with my design ideas below, but I also recommend that you check out the live version at roadshow.reclaimhosting.com for the full animated experience.

The Header

Once we figured out that the theme for the upcoming MSU workshop would be Digital Presence and the looming ‘Ghost of‘ metaphor came to be, I knew immediately that I wanted to incorporate some sort of smoke element to tie into the spookiness of Scooby Doo. I came across these great smoke effect videos on Youtube, so it was quite simple to load one in the background using Elementor.

Logistically, I wanted the header to answer the Why, What, & Where of the Roadshow. I also created a little Flower-Power button graphic that links off to the workshop registration.

The Mystery Van

With artwork this good, I really just wanted to let it do the talking. I added an entrance animation for the van (it bounces in from the right) to create that vroooom feel. I also love playing with overlapping elements on sites to break from the website status quo of clean boxes & uniform lines.

The dotted path on the left starts off the page and pulls the eye down the site towards the next phase of important info. I also love that it plays on a mysterious scavenger hunt vibe.

The Poster

Again, with the idea of letting the art do the work, I added pieces of tape to Bryan’s poster to make it look like it was quickly slapped onto the reader’s computer screen. The Groovy 70’s font that used throughout (since I unfortunately can’t just steal Bryan’s handwriting) is called Keep on Truckin’ and free for download.

The Previous Episodes

Finally, I’m excited to be able to start collecting previous episodes (i.e. workshops) almost as a portfolio in this section. When you hover over each box with your mouse, you’re given a summary of an episode past, with links to that specific episode’s website.

I can’t wait to see how this site changes & grows over time. While the top header elements should stay relatively the same, the current episode poster will switch out depending on what’s current, and the episodes section should grow as well. Bryan doesn’t know this yet, but I’d love to continue working with him to create a new monster/theme for every episode. So while we might be tackling the Ghost of Digital Presence this February, we may have a handful of other monsters to conquer in the future.

Interested in joining us come February? Be on the lookout for more details at roadshow.reclaimhosting.com/msu.

Skidmore Workshop: Reclaim Roadshow

A few weeks ago Jim and I had the pleasure of running our very first Reclaim Roadshow in upstate New York at Skidmore College. We’ve done variants of this Domain of One’s Own administrator workshop in the past, but it was always in Fredericksburg, Va at Reclaim Hosting HQ. These worked well enough, but being able to take this content on the road now means that we’re able to reach a whole new set of folks who maybe wouldn’t be able to travel all the way to Virginia otherwise. So instead of semesterly workshops in Virginia, we’re thinking through what Regional workshops would look like across the U.S. There’s obviously a benefit to getting the undivided attention of the entire Reclaim Hosting team in Fredericksburg, but I also love the idea of being able to say, “Can’t make it? No worries, we’ll come to you.”

You can read through the full Roadshow Workshop itinerary here. We were originally thinking of breaking up the schedule into two parallel tracks, one that encompasses everything technical about Domain of One’s Own, and the other that addresses topics of Digital Literacy and Instructional strategies. However, after getting a sense of our final numbers and audience, I’m so happy that we ultimately decided to blend the two tracks together. The attendees represented variable degrees of experience and perspective in terms of DoOO, so the technical training acted as both a nice refresher for veterans and a big help for newbies. Jim and I spent the full first morning tackling the technical DoOO, which also allowed us to lay the foundation and make sure everyone was on the same page when it came time for discussions around growth, data ownership, exit strategies, and digital organization. 

We dove into a hands-on SPLOT/Site Template/Tiny Teaching Tools workshop after lunch, which was much needed. Though the technical overview is a necessity, it was nice to switch it up for the rest of the afternoon by focusing on creating tools for our respective communities. 

As shown in the embedded tweet above, Jim started by giving an overview of what SPLOTs are and how they’ve come to be. He gave a nod towards the awesome work that Alan Levine has done to build out templates with Reclaim Hosting, and even shared the custom one-click installers that Tim has built. Even though we’ve talked about SPLOTs at workshops past, the conversation always leads somewhere new and this time was no different.  

We tasked the group with going out and collecting little scenes from our surroundings and then uploading them to a quick TRUcollector template that Jim built on our Demo server, StateU. I used the above images taken behind Surrey-Williamson Inn, where we spent the majority of the two days, and then uploaded them to the site straight from my phone. (And did I mention participants don’t have to log in?) The process was seamless, and the site became a “tru” collection of images from the day in a matter of minutes. Very cool to see this live example of how students could quickly add to a course website, for instance. 

SPLOT discussions continued on the afternoon day two, where Jim and I gave folks the opportunity to share what they had worked on the previous day. It was cool to see how existing templates were picked apart, manipulated and changed to meet the needs of various communities. I ended up sharing a template that I made for DoOO admins based off the Dimensions SPLOT:

As a brief backstory- the technical training on the morning of the first day exposed that some new administrators were having a hard time keeping up with the various DoOO platforms. I would have to agree; the acronyms are hard to adopt, and the login pages are long, hidden, and unfamiliar. Enter StateU.org/dooo-admin, a new landing page for admins that has quick descriptions of each platform and how they’re used:

Since this landing page is created from an existing template, it’s very easy to recreate and/or set up on DoOO servers. Now an entire team that manages a DoOO instance can navigate to the same landing page, get a quick refresher of how the platforms are used, click to specific guides, and lastly, navigate to their respective login pages.  (Psst- if this is something you want for your DoOO team, shoot me an email!)

On top of the SPLOTs show & tell time, day two was jam-packed with panel discussions, mini-presentations, and then free-flowing conversations that addressed any unanswered questions from the group. We heard specifically from schools like Colgate, UMass Amherst, Wesleyan, Drew, and Plymouth State on their specific cases for how DoOO is being used on campus which was (and always is) incredibly fascinating. Reclaim Hosting can’t always be ‘on the ground’ as folks roll out these projects, so listening to strategies that were bounced back and forth was easily one of my favorite parts of the workshop.

My biggest personal takeaways were the discussions around data ownership, migration strategies, and institutional archiving, which spawned from the following question: who owns student work after the student graduates? I’ll have to dive into that one on another day, but it’s safe to say that I left the first Reclaim Roadshow feeling inspired and even more ready for the future of Domains.