The Reclaim Roadshow logo! Using this as an example for the Workshop session.
I’m hijacking this post which was originally used as a demonstration of the magic of SPLOTs at this week’s Reclaim Roadshow for a quick recap of the two-day event we provided Domain of One’s Own administrators. The Roadshow has been our in-person, regionally focused event wherein Lauren and I provide administrators both technical training with cPanel, WHMCS, and WHM (web hosting acronym soup right there!) as well as the opportunity to share cool things happening at the various schools using Domains. This in-person event was yet another casualty of COVID-19. We had events planned at both Brynn Mawr College in Pennsylvania last Spring and Trinity College in Connecticut this past fall, but the best laid plans of mice and men pale in comparison to the undying will of a microscopic virus.
So, after the awesome that was the virtual event OERxDomains21—and thanks to an email from Lee Skallerup Bissette looking for some training—Lauren Hanks and I decided to see if there was broader interest in a virtual Roadshow, and the response was an overwhelming YES! So, we got to work in May to put it all together despite the fact we were still hung over from helping to run OERxDomains21—but a good hung over 🙂 So, first thing we wanted to do was further tailor the setup we used for OERxDomains21 to meet the needs of a more focused schedule. This included the following:
- Pre-recorded sessions that have the various technical trainings so we can chat during the videos, but they also stand apart as ongoing resources
- Live sessions for panel presentations, show and tell and the SPLOT workshop and more
- A Discord server for the participants to comment alongside the videos as well as voice channel break-out spaces to dig in on a variety of topics
It was fairly ambitious and experimental, much like OERxDomains21, and I think we were excited because we relished the opportunity to further refine this approach to virtual events. This also meant working again with Michael Branson Smith (MBS) and Tom Woodward (ignore the featured image on his latest post) to revisit the headless WordPress site and video player integration, something I believe ALT is also keen on doing for their annual conference which is pretty awesome because it means more development and further fine-tuning of this slick setup.
Once again Discord proved to be an easy tool for onboarding 80+ folks and the combination of pre-recorded and live sessions was fun and fairly effective. The site for this version was more streamlined with a single URL (http://reclaimroadshow.com) that included the schedule along the top for both days, the video player, and embedded chat from Discord. It was designed to have everything there for you, and the schedule had an abstract for each session along with links to useful resources for the various video dealing with WHM, WHMCS, and the WordPress portal for Domain of One’s Own. And like OERxDomains21, all the sessions have been instantaneously archived for viewing after the fact, and we are thinking through keeping the Discord server as an ongoing community resource.
It’s nice having an archive of the tech overview videos because we realized day 1 was a pretty intense experience with videos streaming and folks chatting, turns out that a lot of those videos might have been best pre-released and then re-run during the actual conference with active discussion. We’ll have to revisit how to slow things down a bit during the tech training, but I want to believe the live panel discussions and SPLOT overview/workshop helped break the intensity of some of day 1. Also, having the videos as ongoing resources with links to all the relevant documentation discussed will have a more “just in time” approach to solving issues for admins.
I think attendees really appreciated hearing from the various schools running a Domains project, nothing like practical advice and solid examples to inspire. A special thanks to Tim Clarke from Muhlenberg, Caroline Sinkinson and Amanda McAndrew from UC Boulder, as well as the dynamic duo of Keegan Long-Wheeler and John Stewart from the University of Oklahoma (they made us!). It was a great session with discussions around framing the community, highlighting the work, and managing the day-today of providing infrastructure for faculty, staff, and students.
Tim Owens and Meredith Fierro took over the support and troubleshooting sessions, offering some focused advice for new and veteran admins alike, and it turns out the real gold of these events is allowing folks to network and share common challenges and successes. The ability to carve out some time and space to connect is not easy, so seeing so many folks show up and contribute was magic.
We wrapped up day 1 with SPLOTs, that other weird acronym that came from Canada 🙂 We even had honorary Canadian Alan Levine join us for DIY SPLOTs session, and it is always cool to see the awesome stuff folks do with these tools. Alan blogged about some new SPLOTs in the wild, they’re everywhere!
And with that we closed up day 1 of the Roadshow. Day 2 had no pre-recorded sessions, and was. focused on further linking attendees with each other through shared interests, examples, and broader issues such as analytics, assessment, support, and more. The first session was another panel, Where DoOO You Live?, trying to highlight how hosting often has different facets/faces depending on where it lives, i.e. the library, a Digital Humanities group, an ed tech shop, a teaching center, IT, etc. And while there is definite overlap, some times thinking through the distinctions is useful. We brought back old colleague, friend, and hair model Andy Rush to frame how Domains is being used at the University of North Florida; Amie Freeman also returned to discuss the brilliant work they are doing out of the library at the University of South Carolina; Blair Tinker talked how they use Domains as part of a Digital Humanities group at University of Rochester, and finally Marie Selvanadin and Lee Skallerup Bessette talked about the work they’re doing out of Center for New Designs in learning and Scholarship (CNDLS). The session was chock full of good advice about how different schools use this tool for a variety of applications.
After that panel we experimented with breakout groups using voice channels in Discord. It was a new frame, and we organized the groups around topics such as supporting domains, building community, assessing domains, archiving domains, and promoting domains. Here was another intentional attempt to connect folks, and we asked folks in the community to help run these discussions in order to ensure folks had some structure yet could take the conversation where it led. I found myself in the assessment session for the full hour, and it was an interesting discussion around how you demonstrate the effectiveness of domains to the folks funding it—a common issue anyone running any program faces. We explored the possibilities and limits of analytics, the value of leading with examples, and the power of trying to engage your community with cool, focused workshops like the Exploration Week Bryn Mawr runs or the amazing Coventry Learn site that marries education with design for those interested in what Domains can do.
After that Tom Woodward and I talked about what we means when we talk about analytics and tried to frame more specific ways to collect data from across the three systems to make a Domain of One’s Own administrators job a bit easier. Tom, being the awesome blogger that he is, wrote up everything he wanted to say but I wouldn’t let him given my refusal to give up the mic 🙂 I highly recommend his post “DoOO Data Considerations” as a thoughtful frame to think about the claims you make, how to demonstrate them, and how to balance with qualitative and quantitative elements of the data collected. I am particularly excited about his explorations around the WHM, WHMCS, and WP APIs given some deeper integration into the WordPress admin portal of data from the other systems is long overdue. Hoping to making that a summer project with a few folks from the Roadshow who have expressed interest.
The “Why Reclaim Cloud?” session was fun, and I brought back Kathleen Fitzpatrick because she was so amazing at OERxDomains21! And we also got to hear from Kristen Mapes about her experimenting with Mattermost, Etherpad, and Jitsi for her Intro to Digital Humanities class in the fall. I liked her frame a lot because it highlights the difficulty of going full blown into these integrations, and underscores that Reclaim Cloud is a sandbox. Finally, Mo Pelzel and Sarah Purcell got us started talking about their early experiments at Grinnell College with the Cloud. Sarah shared how she is using Voyant Tools with her class, and the broader discussion was highlighting that while not part of Domain of One’s Own, Reclaim Cloud does represent a next generation sandbox beyond cPanel hosting.
The last session, and one of my very favorites was based around Show and Tell. We provided a link for folks inn the workshop to join us in Streamyard and share a project, idea, or whatever else they want with everyone. It was cool because we were using Streamyard in a new way for us, and while we weren’t sure it would be seamless, we wanted to continue to encourage engagement and providing a platform for anyone attending. Turns out Streamyard’s genius is its simplicity. Folks can use the link, we can keep them backstage until we are ready, and we can also communicate privately to make sure they have screen sharing set and are ready to go—it is quite nice. What’s even better is folks shared!
Ed Beck from SUNY Oneonta got us started with his first of two sharing sessions talking about the OER intiaitive at SUNY and how they are using Pressbooks, H5P and more. After that Lee Skallerup Bessette talked about the Data Sitters Club, a brilliantly fun and engaging Digital Humanities project centered around computational analysis of texts. If Lee’s excitement for this project does not tell the whole story, I don’t know what will 🙂 And then Marie Selvanadin blew us away with the Free Speech Project site built of Georgetown Domains, a truly awesome example of marrying social justice to scholarship. Lee came back for a second tour sharing the minimal computing project called Wax, which is a simple Exhibit tool using flat files—a love me some cool tool sharing! Tim Clarke highlighted the various applications he is running in his domain that may not be the more popular WordPress, Omeka, or Scalar. And then Tom Woodward shared how he has integrated Slack with WordPress so that you can send Slack posts to WordPress, or use updates as ways to track work progress, it was quite wild!
Lauren and I closed the session sharing various sites of interest, and then we wrapped up the Roadshow after more than 90 minutes of sharing. I think that tells the story of this Roadshow, it was two days of intense engagement, community building, and sharing using a cocktail of platforms that I couldn’t be more excited about. The fact that this Roadshow was so well attended, and folks actually came and engaged is really encouraging. Next month Reclaim Hosting turns 8 years old, and the fact folks are still fired up about what’s possible is everything to this aging edtech 🙂
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t end this post by acknowledging just how amazing it has been to work alongside Lauren on OERxDomains21 in April and now Reclaim Roadshow last week. The way in which she has been integrating and managing this new suite of small (and large) tools loosely joined to create a compelling conference/workshop experience is nothing short of stellar. I noted this in Lauren’s annual review, and I think it bears repeating: the work she is doing integrating Discord with Slack, thinking through the design of the Roadshow schedule/video/discord site with MBS and Tom, while at the same time proving a brilliant teacher and engaging representative of Reclaim points to the fact that she is doing some truly amazing ed tech work on top of everything else she already does. And having just finished her sixth full year at Reclaim, we are reminded just how lucky we are to work with her and how crucial she is to who we are as an indie ed tech outfit. Kudos are in order!
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