Recapping the OU Creaties

Yesterday afternoon we held the first OU Creaties award luncheon, which was a ton of fun. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, it’s great to get to celebrate the work of your community. We wanted to simply have a way to acknowledge and showcase the work that has taken place at the OU since we started our domain of one’s own project, OU Create, via Reclaim Hosting, and I think it’s safe to say we accomplished that.

This was a major project for Anoop Bal, our Digital Learning Fellow. Event planning is a massive undertaking and one that easily goes under appreciated. It was great to see the event go off without a hitch. Not that metrics are the only way in which we are evaluating it but here’s some “unofficial” results:

  • 50 nomination submissios
  • 102 nominated sites
  • 31 finalists
  • 842 ballots casted for fan voting
  • 2,683 total fan votes
  • 38 total attendees to the awards luncheon

One of Anoop’s ideas was to ditch the regular ol’ engraved acryllic plaque and go with engraved bamboo. I really think these matched the sort of maker aesthetic of Create and were a really nice touch.


There will also be digital awards. John Stewart is taking the lead on issues some digital badges via Credly that users can throw on their blog sidebars if they wish. This takes me back to the golden age of the web where it seemed like everyone had received some award that show their community. Or site rings–just give me site rings!

We were able to kick it off with Provost Kyle Harper (who runs the HIGHLY acclaimed and I was able to brag a little on him noting that OU Create exists only because of his support. He had an idea for e-portfolios and Mark Morvant and I were able to run with it. It means a lot to me that we have the level of support we do from the Provost level and having him give opening remarks was a very fitting way to start.


Provost address at the OU Creaties

I, too, was also able to say some words about how I see OU Create. Here’s a couple of graphs from my notes:

OU Create isn’t a system where technology “does things” to the student. Students independently build because of the technology. There’s a fundamental difference. In this space, knowledge isn’t simply being “transmitted” to the student, but students are constructing their own knowledge. And the site is simply the phyiscal manifestation. Of process as much as product.

At the University of Oklahoma, my hope is that students are creators, not merely consumers. As computer scientist and educational theorist Seymour Papert once said that “the role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than to provide ready-made knowledge.”

Last, we’ve launch a new front page for the Creaties which shows and links to all the finalists and winners. Hopefully this can be a resource for other universities who need examples of the various roles domains can play at their institution.

Bragging tends be incredibly self-serving but it’s that time of the year again where I start to feel sentimental so I am totally ok with doing it today. I love the community I’m a part of. It’s one where I can brag on my team members (like Anoop), my administration (like Provost Harper), and, most importantly, the OU Create users who push this technology way beyond how I would ever think of using it. I strongly suggest you browse the work for the finalists and winners. We’ve got it good on the prairie!

Welcome to the Creaties!

Sometime last semester, I was trying to think of different ways to promote work that was taking place on OU Create, our domains project, as well as simply say thank you to folks that have committed time and energy to our first full “non-pilot” year of domains at OU. At some point, I ran across my old friend the Webby Awards and thought it would be neat to think about how something like that could translate to a campus.

I pitched the idea to Anoop Bal, our Digital Learning Fellow, who has really ran with it and birthed what we are calling The Creaties, an award show for the OU Create users, thinkers, and builders.

We’re currently taking nominations for ten of the eleven categories:

  • Best Portfolio Website (Student)
  • Best Portfolio Website (Faculty)
  • Best Course Website
  • Best Short Story
  • Best Photonarrative 
  • Best Narrative of 2015 at OU
  • Best Post Related to Study Abroad
  • Best Review of a Song, Movie, Book, or Video Game
  • Best Wiki
  • Best Community

This doesn’t comprehensively cover everything that we are seeing happen on OU Create, but it does give us a small list that we can work with and manage this go around. After nominations, there will be a brief round of fan voting that will take place as well. Everything culminates with an award luncheon to take place on April 29, 2016 (free meal!). All of this will make for a very busy April, but one that will properly add a period to Year One of domains/subdomains for all.

We’ve had a lot of success simply amplifying work via our Twitter (@OU_Create) and our weekly “Best of” blog, This Week on OU Create (again, thanks to the hard work of Anoop). I was pleased when, a couple weeks back, a student tweeted this:

Prior to the tweet, I received this email:

Hi Adam,

I just discovered the “This Week On” page – what a great idea! I let my students know if their posts had been highlighted, and I’ve already heard how thrilled many of them are. Thanks for all you do to build up this campus.

It appears to me that these simple acts where we, as Amanda Palmer would say, say “I see you,” are pleasantly received by students.

It’s easy for institutions to get comfortable being at odds with students (because that puts the institution in power). This can translate to social media where the department accounts become sounding boards for more noise where we talk at our students instead of with them. I see this abuse mostly by large companies who use social media to quiet tempers of customers who have a bad experience.

Example: Company tweets $69 one-way flights promotion (talking at me). I complain about experience (talking at it). They apologize (via DM), give me a number to call, and send me drink tickets. This commercial approach isn’t bad (hey, I got a free drink) but it doesn’t build community. Again, to get back to Amanda Palmer:

For most of human history, musicians, artists, they’ve been part of the community. Connectors and openers, not untouchable stars.

For me, The Creaties is another way for us to say that we, as administrators of a system, aren’t untouchable stars, but rather connectors and openers. We aren’t adversaries here only to tell you about uptime/downtime and what you can/can’t do. We are also a part of this small community who believe in creating a culture of public sharing in digital spaces. And we want to acknowledge that your work can be more than a grade (if only by giving you a free meal :smile:).

Nominations are now being accepted over on the OU Creaties page!

MiddCreate Applications Workshop Recap

On March 17th, the Digital Learning Commons held a workshop on MiddCreate Applications lead by Evelyn Helminen and Clarissa Stewart. The workshop was attended by students and members of staff interested in learning new ways to utilize their MiddCreate domains.

MiddCreate (an initiative currently in the pilot phase) allows students, faculty, and staff to create spaces on the web where they can explore and connect their learning, experiment with digital tools for teaching and learning, and create a digital identity that is owned and managed by them.

Classes and programs may also use MiddCreate to build a space for students to share and comment on each others’ contributions. There is an incredible variety of applications available, which can be a little intimidating at first. The workshop showcased four easy-to-use applications to give participants an idea of what’s possible in MiddCreate. They included a survey maker, a wiki page builder, a social publishing platform, and a project management system.

First, Evelyn explained what MiddCreate is and how to get started, introducing the application installer.

Then, Clarissa demonstrated how to use LimeSurvey, a survey making tool that lets you to easily create and execute a variety of assessments. It supports an unlimited number of surveys in 80 different languages, with over 28 different question formats and conditional logic options available.

Next, Evelyn discussed DokuWiki, which can be used to outline or keep track of a project, plan social events, or serve as a catch-all binder of knowledge. DokuWiki has all of the core features you need from a wiki, such as cross-linking pages, without the bells and whistles necessary for collaborative work. The look of your personal wiki can also be fully customized within the app and by accessing its files from the MiddCreate dashboard.

A social publishing platform called Known was also introduced. Known is very easy to use and works like a Facebook group or Tumblr, but doesn’t require that you be a member of those platforms. You can invite up to 200 users to collaborate by sharing post, status updates, photos, and audio. You can also make your own events or RSVP to external events. Students can use Known to showcase personal projects, get feedback on their work, reflect on and discuss course content with their peers outside of class, or serve as a bank of knowledge for everyone to access.

The final application was Collabtiv, a web-based project management tool that enables virtual teams to work in close collaboration. The tool represents projects by tasks, milestones, related files and messages. Time worked can be tracked on a task-by-task basis. Furthermore, the software is polyglot, supporting more than 35 languages.

Please be on the lookout for any future MiddCreate workshops! If you’re interested in learning more about how to use MiddCreate, feel free to come by the DLC Learning Lab or make an appointment with a DLC staff member.

Learn more about MiddCreate »

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