For whatever reason this semester has been incredibly busy and I haven’t taken the time to check back here regularly and update on the many initiatives we’ve been working on at UMW, or any of the many other things that interest me regularly. In lieu of taking the real time to write out any of that stuff I figured I’d take a single post to pull a bunch of thoughts and projects together to give some sense of where I am halfway through the fall semester.
Domain of One’s Own
The pilot project has had a lot of great successes and I feel like we’re learning a lot. The struggle now is to make sure this becomes more than just a small pilot and get funding for this to become a defacto part of the student experience at UMW. With budgets crunched it’s going to be an uphill battle but I’m confident we’re going to be successful. Among the lessons we’ve learned, one of the largest is that this cannot be a mandatory initiative, rather we have to frame this as an open opportunity for students to take hold of and let the momentum and community grow around it. When students are forced to get a domain for a class it’s not always something they value and stick with, but if we can tell all freshman “Here is something great you are free to get and we’ll help you build it out.” we’ll have a great set of students who really want to be in that space doing things. And imagine what that looks like 4 years from now.
Collaborating with multiple departments we were able to build a makerspace of our own right in the Simpson Library that opened this fall, we call it the ThinkLab. George Meadows and I are co-teaching a freshman seminar class on Makerbots, Arduino, Robotics, and the like and having a lot of fun with it. It’s incredible to have a space like this at a liberal arts college and find ways to incorporate the ethos of the space into a variety of disciplines. I have a class from the College of Business coming next week to do a project in the space as part of their research into emerging technologies and prototyping. We’ve already had a professional development workshop for recertifying educators to learn more about how to integrate the things we do in the space as part of STEM curriculum at the elementary level. And I feel like we’re just getting started. Lessons learned are that I need to find a way to keep the door open more, get more access for more people. That will build over time but there are still a lot of students that don’t know it exists and I want that to change because there are practically no students I show the space to that aren’t immediately energized by the possibilities.
Still using it, but often forget to post there. I have apps for the Mac and iPhone. I’m not sure what needs to take place for me to use it more. I enjoy the conversations there, I love the platform and it’s growing. But the community of people I follow on Twitter as a whole are not going to give it a chance until they can get some level of access for free. And I’m not sure that will ever happen.
I sold my iPad 3 and pre-ordered an iPad mini. It’ll be here Friday. I think I’m going to like it a lot more because over time the iPad felt too large for what I wanted to use it for (mostly bedtime reading and browsing). I did not get a smart cover because I had one on the iPad and hated it.
I’m running from zombies regularly and trying to track what I eat. Interestingly enough it’s been one of the redeeming factors of being back on Facebook as I’m a part of a Facebook Group with my brother and some friends and it’s a great way to keep each other accountable. I hope I can keep up with it.
Types and Views
I’m talking to a class on Thursday about how to extend WordPress from just Posts and Pages and really use it for any content type. It’s one of the things that we’ve used a lot over the past year at DTLT and ends up being a really eye-opening way of using WordPress as a full-on CMS instead of retrofitting a blogging platform to act like one. The set of plugins I like (one free, one paid, one in beta but coming soon) are here: http://wp-types.com/
Hard to believe how many months Hippie Hosting has been running. We have occasional hiccups but that’s probably true of any service provider. It’s been a wild ride so far being a sysadmin for a space with a large group of people hosting content. It was absolutely a catalyst for us piloting the Domain of One’s Own. My only struggle these days is figuring out how to make the thing sustainable financially. I was an idiot when I setup pricing early on and didn’t raise the incredibly low prices when the costs started to rise. I’m working on that now and hope I can keep the thing running without pissing off too many people. D’Arcy Norman rocks for helping with the server admin stuff.
That’s all I got for now. Each of these things probably could have been a long-winded post but who has time for that?