An Ode to UMW Faculty

An Architecture of Amazing Possibility

Andréa Livi Smith, who’s a Historic Preservation professor at UMW, found time on her blog to write a little ode honoring UMW’s DTLT. She contextualized it with an explanation as to why she is so enamored with this cutting edge, highly attractive group of instructional technologists 😉

They set up the blog aggregator for my Paris class. I love this thing: it keeps all my students’ blogs in one place, making for easy commenting and grading [the aggregator was the handy work of Alan Levine, I believe]. They also set up the system for my scavenger hunt which will be held in Paris later in the summer. (And no, you can’t see it yet. It’ll be the star of another post) All I had to do was explain what I wanted, what had not worked last year (seriously, it deserved an #epicfail) and voila! Now I have a system that will make it easier on the students and on me, and will be ready for the next trip, too.

I can just imagine how this would have worked at another school. One scenario: “you don’t use the CMS? Then figure this out yourself.” Another: “let’s figure out how to make the CMS do this.” This second option would actually be WORSE. Some things you can’t shoehorn to work well together. It’s like garlic and chocolate. I’m not saying Canvas can’t handle photos, but I would imagine that it would be a very
convoluted solution to have 40+ photos from different teams to be accessible on a single screen for easy comparison.

That’s right, it’s not like we don’t support learning management systems, we most certainly do, and Lisa Ames has been an amazing part of this group in that regard. But we only dedicate about 1/6 of our respurces to that, the vast majority of what we do is work with faculty to imagine what they want to do and how we can help them do it using a wide range of resources at our disposal. I love how Andi articulates what makes UMW special in this regard, it’s a matter of support and the ability to quickly scale a custmoized learning environment for faculty. We’ve become masters at that by experimenting with open source tools and cheap web hosting. Interestingly enough, this is exactly the approach we are trying to scale beyond UMW with Reclaim Hosting that Tim Owens framed beautifully here.

What’s more, Andi herself has become masterful at managing her own domain over the last six months. her work in the Domain of One’s Own faculty initiative was truly brilliant, and her Digital Bridging blog is the tale of the tape. She’s fired up about the digital, is an awesome person to work with, and has been breaking new ground with Martha Burtis on research applications for a customized WordPress blog for collecting data on historic structures around Fredericksburg (but I’ll let them talk about that).

Andi is a force of nature, and like most of the faculty at UMW, she came here because she loves teaching. In fact, we have no shortage of great teachers at UMW, and that is truly be the secret sauce behind DTLT’s success. We couldn’t do what we love to do, i.e. experiment wildly with technology in the classroom, if we did n’t have such awesome, engaged faculty that treat us as partners in the process. So here is an ode right back at Andi and the rest of UMW’s awesome faculty:

The UMW faculty, they teach 4/4,
And labor for love with an experimental galore.
But when it comes to the LMS, It’s nevermore, nevermore
They rock the open web, and innovation abounds
Augmenting learning with tech continually astounds

We’re making the myths at UMW because we’re working as a well-oiled community, rather than a machine. You can do a lot of great things when everyone involved is willing to experiment openly.#umwfaculty4life

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