Muhlenberg is the Word

A handful of blog posts have came out recently on Muhlenberg’s Domain of One’s Own project bergbuilds including a posts from Lora Taub (post) and Tim Clarke (post) at Muhlenberg and Lauren Brumfield (post) at Reclaim Hosting.

Lora’s post encouraged folks to get involved in this years OLC Solution Design Summit, which is actually where I first met Lora. I wrote this in April:

If they pull off their idea (I’m hoping someone from their team will write a post), it will be one of the more innovative approaches I’ve seen in holistically engaging a community in domains and digital literacy.

I continue to stand by that statement. Muhlenberg is utilizing their domains as a central space for students to think broadly about digital learning and digital scholarship as a student’s pre-orientation experience. From what I remember, students even move in to their dorm room early to partake in the week-long session

As someone who’s graduate experience was deeply impacted by a similar experience and as someone at a university that’s about to launch two residential colleges, I’m thinking more and more about how these types of experiences. Too often, digital is positioned as in conflict with the residential experience. I don’t want to hear another person lament about students learning at home in their pajamas, as if that’s vitriolic. I don’t want to hear another false argument about digital natives. I would rather see us explore, together, head-on the opportunities and challenge that digital space brings. If anything, let’s embrace the way that the two worlds have deeply merged.

I do believe that a good place to start building respect with the students by offering and supporting them with their own space. What better way to fully actualize the digital verison Virigina Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own then a Muhlenberg-type of project? From Lora:

In fact, our tagline for this entire pre-orientation experience was, “A Dorm & A Domain” — emphasizing that a Muhlenberg experience is as much about staking out an online presence as it is setting up a dorm room or learning your way around campus.

Both Lora and Tim both touched on the ways which they’ve felt supported by the broader domains community as they’ve launched this project. Tim had these nice things to say:

To inform these efforts, we reached out for assistance to Adam Croom who kindly shared his afternoon with us fielding far ranging questions. It’s difficult to quantify Adam’s helpfulness, but it’s essetial to try. At the close of our online meeting, Adam encouraged us to continue to reach out, even offering to provide a clone of Create OU Support for us to customize. Adam’s efforts to work openly and to share everything from support documentation to learning community reading lists and curriculums will save us at Muhlenberg weeks, perhaps months, of effort. But more important, Adam’s, and Martha’s, and Tim’s, and Jim’s, and Lauren’s engagement with us will make our efforts better.

I have to say I really like this idea of working together. I’m always the first to say that what we are doing is, if anything, the opposite of innovative. One of the best things about the community is how much everybody wants to see the other person succeed. Create is only what it is because UMW is what it is and Emory, Davidson, BYU, VCU, Middlebury, CSU Channel Islands, Georgetown and many others are what they are. And the different ways in which institutions have reimagined it for their specific community is really, really gratifying to watch. It’s like, oh I don’t know, the web; small pieces loosely joined.

Some day I’ll probably stop gushing about domains and the web. But, until then, I’ll take my people over anybodys!

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This Week On OU Create is back.

Last year, we launched a blog titled thisweekon.oucreate.com and a similar Twitter account @OU_Create to highlight some of our favorite OU Create content, mostly blogs from OU students and faculty, thanks to the good work of Anoopdeep Bal. I’m not sure I even know the full details, but the best answer is that we focused our highlighting attention on the Creaties and moved the This Week blog to the backburner. Then in July we had some staff turnover that caused us to hault the account altogether. BUT we are back on the horse!
The Week from 10/14 – 10/20 on OU Create
The way that we do this is fairly simple. Every newly installed application gets plugged into our Community syndicator which runs on FeedWordPress. Though not every site has an RSS feed, we are currently syndicating 3,310 sites. We get these URLs by pulling them directly out of the Installatron database file and bulk subscribing to the newest posts. Then we read them (I use Reeder to do so), share our favorites in a Slack channel, and then John Stewart writes up a weekly roundup. Anddd that’s about it. My thought is that the only way to know your community is to be of it and in it. We are proud to publicly offer a way to see the public work that exists within it as well. I’ve always liked to the think of OU Create as the best representation of a digital common area for the community and it’s fun tosee how people are still thinking up new ways to use the space. For instance, Darren Purcell (who is has one of the most richest faculty OU Create spaces if I do say so myself) is using it in a freshman-level Geography class to teach students about mapping and GIS tool. I just saw a post today where Lexi McLane had used ArcGIS Online, a cloud-based mapping platform, to show high school graduation rates at a macro and micro level. It shows national, state, and regional (in fact her own hometown). Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 12.27.59 PM.png Not only is it personally contextualized but she was able to start to understand the influence how race and economics affect graduation rates:
Through the maps in my story map I compare areas with lower rates to areas with lower incomes and see a clear trend. Also groups with higher averages such as white and asian groups, are typically associated with higher income groups. The maps in my story map also show higher incomes around counties with high graduation rates. I was surprised to find that the school I graduated from had such a high graduation rate when drop outs seemed so normal throughout high school. Also my high school was primarily hispanic and economically disadvantaged, meaning it should have some of the lowest graduation rates based on the national statistics. However, in 2014 Olustee Public High School had a 95 % graduation rate, putting my high school above the national average. – Lexi McLane
Another project I saw pop up this semester is the OU Integration Business Core program. IBC is a set of four courses students take in which throughout the courses they do market research and launch a product. The profit generated is then donated to a local company. All of the companies have a WordPress landing page (they use an OU purchasing tool for actual orders) and two of the companies are using OU Create: Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 12.36.09 PM.png   Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 12.36.19 PM.png I’ve said this time and time again, but I love the flexibility of the web to serve such vastly different needs. Both of these projects fall widely out of the scope of a traditional eportfolio, our original idea for OU Create, but show the creative ways for which the technology can be exploited by the users. Oh, and support these IBC projects if you know what’s good for you!

Creating Course Sites in MiddCreate

Interested in creating a course site or assignment using MiddCreate? Not sure which application fits your needs? Look no further! This guide will provide resources to help you think through how a domain can best serve you and your students.

A “Domain of One’s Own” asks us to consider the infrastructure. It asks us to understand the Web and our place on it. It asks to us to pay attention to the content we create — as teachers and as students — and to weigh where it best resides — who has access to it, and for how long.

Audrey Watters

Technology is all about removing limitations and building connections. The MiddCreate application you select for your course site or project should connect your students with new, useful content and experiences. Having specific goals is the key to maximizing a digital tool’s value. Determine how the tool will figure into your existing tool inventory and pedagogy. Do you intend it to replace something or is it just an addition? Thinking about these questions will help inform your course objectives, determine how to proceed with initial set up and how much time the configuration will take.

Design Your Project

It’s a good idea to focus on what the technology can do uniquely well (such as enabling multiple modes of participation) when thinking about how it will integrate with your course. MiddCreate applications like WordPress, Known, Dokuwiki, and Omeka can be used to help your students collaborate and build a sense of community among the class. There are many models by which you can achieve this. For example, by establishing a communal space where everyone can create content, or by syndicating content students create individually to a community space.

Click to view slideshow.

You might also consider the site’s intended users and audience: who will be utilizing the site and how will they interact with it? Will this change over time? An example of this would be having students collaborate to draft information into a wiki resource site, then opening it up for public contributions once the initial entries are completed. In order to make this run smoothly, an instructor would need to understand not only how to create and edit pages within the wiki application, but also have a plan for how to configure changes in privacy and multiple user access settings at each stage of the project.

Every application has unique aspects that will require careful thought and intentional planning to ensure that your project fulfills its purpose and provides a rewarding, enjoyable learning experience for everyone involved.

Identify Appropriate Challenges

Before you decide which MiddCreate tool to use, properly consider its drawbacks. These could include limitations that arise due to its features, or the extra time and effort needed to create, maintain, and grade, digital assignments. You and your students are busy, so you’ll want to consider how long it will take to get your site ready. Will the application require extensive configuration to make it do what you want it to, or will it be usable soon after installation? Consider this carefully when planning your course, learning objectives, and the timing of assignments you expect students to complete.

You should also take into account how comfortable you and your students are with technology. Think about the tools they have used previously and how those compare to your potential selection. Even if students lack experience with this kind of digital tool, it could still be a valuable learning opportunity, but be aware that using it may require planning in extra time to accommodate the learning curve.

No doubt you want to give students the freedom to explore their own ideas and interests. However, leaving things too open can be intimidating and cause students to feel lost. The best way to increase students’ comfort level with new, experimental methods of learning is by including clear structure. Provide detailed requirements and frameworks for those who need them, but encourage students to take off in their own direction when appropriate. Remember that digital tools can give students the chance to take risks with the material they are learning, providing instructors insight into their students’ unexpected capabilities.

Plan for the Future

After students complete assignments, it might be nice to ask if you can feature the best work for all to admire. It’s also a good idea to archive the semester’s best examples for future classes. When students are struggling to find inspiration or understand what the project should look like, it often helps to give them look at some of the best work from previous semesters.

Another thing to consider is whether you’ll be using the same course site again in future semesters, or would like to archive and duplicate it each time. Think about how much of your content you can create as separate assets that can be easily migrated if and when you decide to move on.

Evaluate the App

Think you’ve found the right digital tool for your site? Go though the questions in this handy, comprehensive guide to choosing digital tools for course sites. This resource offers queries to develop and improve the digital pedagogy of your classes, focusing on the unique complexities and responsibilities that incorporating MiddCreate’s web tools into a curriculum may present.


Additional Resources


Learn more about MiddCreate »

If you’d like help getting started in MiddCreate, feel free to drop by the DLC Learning Lab or make an appointment with a DLC staff member.

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MiddCreate Conversations: “Attending to the Digital / Reclaiming the Web” | Oct 21

You are not an object that online companies get to play with. You don’t have to submit yourself to data mining by large corporations. You can control and reclaim your online content.

Join us for a live presentation by Audrey Watters, education writer and rabble rouser at Hack Education, entitled “Attending to the Digital / Reclaiming the Web”. This is connected to the launch of MiddCreate, Middlebury’s initiative to offer a “domain of one’s own” to everyone in the Middlebury community. Audrey will be talking about what happens to your content, intellectual property, and online data when you’re not paying attention; why it’s important to take control, or reclaim, your portion of the web under your own domain; and how you can present your identity with integrity and thoughtfulness through having a domain of your own. Stay with us after the talk for a hands-on workshop in Monterey led by Audrey called, “A Domain is not a Website.” In this workshop, we will look at our personal online data trails and raise questions about how to take back control over what we (sometimes inadvertently) share online. The workshop will include lunch at Monterey.

Two Events, a Talk and a Workshop:

1. Details for the Talk

Place: The talk will be held in Van Buren 499 on the Middlebury Institute campus in Monterey, and streamed online at middcreate.net. Date: Friday, October 21, 2016 Time: Starts at 10:30 AM  PT What: A viewing and discussion of Audrey Watters’ presentation. The talk will focus on how and why it’s important to reclaim the web.

2. Details for the Workshop (Please RSVP)

Place: The workshop will be held in the Design Sp@ce of the DLC, MG001. Date: Friday, October 21, 2016 Time: 12:00 PM  – 2:00 PM PT What: A hands-on workshop led by Audrey Watters focused on how you can utilize your domain on MiddCreate to control and reclaim your online content. Includes lunch. Bring a computer so you can fully participate. RSVP Below

Current Sign-up Sheets

Title Date Open Spots
Post-lecture workshop + lunch with Audrey Watters October 21, 2016 29
We hope you’ll join us!
Want to know more about Domain of One’s Own? Check out these recent articles:

Talking Digital Identity and Scholarship with Graduate Students

Yesterday I finished up the last installment of a six-week workshop series focused on assisting graduate students with understanding digital identity and the open web. I co-taught this with John Stewart who did much of the heavy lifting filling me for me a couple times when I wasn’t able to be available. This was also our first time to partner with the Clay Wesley in Graduate Student Life who was kind enough to organize, manage, and offer food for the event itself. I’ve spoken twice at their annual career development week and was humbled that the presentations were rated high enough to pique the college’s interest on expanding it into a more concerted effort.

The truth is a digital identity is not a tool or a website, and it can’t be fully actualized in a mere six weeks, but through the process of a building a website it can get folks started on a path and give them enough of knowledge to be armed with how to take ownership of their digital identity by giving them an environment where they are forced to put pen to paper. This fact was driven home quite well by Michael Thompson, who is our Director of Broader Impacts in the Office of the Vice President for Research, who, among other things, leads our faculty in workshops to help assist them in building and verbalizing their faculty identity. One of the comments he brought up multiple times was how identity is changing and fluid, which is so true. The more time I spend in this project, the more I see identity building as the opposite of a streamlined tech tool built to help you answer a pre-determined set of questions much like many social media profiles and e-portfolio solutions. The complexity of people demands flexibility and ownership.

The last week of the workshop was focused on digital scholarship. Digital scholarship is such a broad term and I wanted to pull examples of various ways of interpreting the notion of DS including how one’s own digital space(s) can reflect research, digital scholarship tools, digital and open-access journals, research group sites, and fully-fledged online research projects. It’s certainly nowhere near exhaustive but these are references I point to often. Below a brief summary of the sites we went over:

Laura Gogia – An example of a phenomenal recent PhD graduate site. Good example of leveraging a multitude of spaces for various identities and projects. Lauragogia.com is a landing page aggregation of work. Messy Thinking is her “thinking out loud” blog. Deconstructed Dissertation is her main research website. 

TAGS – Twitter archive to Google Sheet tool built developed and maintained by Martin Hawksey.

Hypothes.is – An annotation tool that can act as a layer on top of any public website. See this Guardian article for how an example of how Climate Feedback is utilize the tool as a way to be “a scientific reference to reliable information on climate change” within popular media.

Tableau – a visualization tool with a free offering for students. See Austin’s Teacher Turnover for an example of various ways structured data can be visualized for storytelling.

Jove – calls itself the “the world’s first and only peer reviewed scientific video journal.” An example of a digital version of traditional researcher as referenced in Martin Weller’s article

Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments – “an open-access, curated collection of downloadable, reusable, and remixable pedagogical resources for humanities scholars interested in the intersections of digital technologies with teaching and learning.” Hosted and openly edited on Github.

Inhabiting the Anthropocene – a group blog written by an interdisciplinary group of University of Oklahoma scholars interested in how humans have and continue to transform the Earth.

Community Informatics – an example of a research website. This research site began on OU Create and has since migrated off OU Create due to the faculty member now be located in Boston at Simmons College. This site is made up of a WordPress information page as well as an evolving wiki hosted that uses the application DokuWiki.

Situating Chemistry – a collaborative research database and map that investigates the sites where chemistry was practiced between 1760-1840 led by University of Oklahoma staff member and historian John Stewart. This project is built on the Drupal platform.

New Deal – an undergraduate research project at the University of Oklahoma utilizing the Omeka platform. For more information, see a more detailed blog post I previously wrote.

Digital Humanities Toolbox – A very well organized and much more exhaustive list of tools that one can use for projects including mapping, text analysis, audio, annotation, and research tools. Very applicable to non-humanities fields.

Featured image: flickr photo shared by renaissancechambara under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license