Scaling Domains

One of the questions that came up during our trip to Georgetown earlier this week (read more about that visit here), was how do you effectively scale something like UMW Domains. It’s a good question, and we talked a bit about making the tech more seamless. But Tim Owens pointed to UMW DTLT’s latest addition, the Digital Knowledge Center (DKC), as one tremendous asset to scaling the work we are doing with UMW Domains—and that is absolutely right.

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Martha Burtis has done a brilliant job of getting her center up and running in the Fall. And there is no question DTLT’s presence and possibilities have been dramatically expanded as a result of her work. Martha has built a center that employs eight student aides who are equipped to help the broader student community at UMW with everything from media editing to managing WordPress to navigating cPanel to editing images to using TinkerCad, and much, much more. In short, the DKC is a peer-tutoring center for digital projects that coordinates with faculty development to further support and scale the work we do on campus. Martha’s recent post, “Why Every EdTech Group Needs a DKC,” lays out the various benefits the DKC offers a group like DTLT, and it comes highly recommended.

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When we talked briefly about the work Martha is doing with the DKC, everyone around the table at Georgetown was impressed. Scaling was not framed as solely a technical issue, but a development and support issue. At it’s heart, support and development is what the DKC helps us with when it comes to Domain of One’s Own. A center like this enables students who have issues or questions about what’s possible with their own domain and web hosting have immediate support and guidance from their peers. What’s more, it enables us to provide support for entire courses for faculty who want to explore UMW Domains, but are concerned about balancing tech support with their teaching. This goes a long, long way towards scaling a project that is deeply rooted in a broader vision of digital fluency.

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Katie Gach (who was one of Michael Wesch’s Anthropology students at Kansas State) was at the table, and she was immediately taken by the idea. We talked briefly at the break about the DKC, and she suggested how such a Center highlights the humanity of the Domains project. The space where the support and interaction around this process of becoming digitally fluent was anchored, and that’s a great way to think about what the DKC means to our group. I’m sure folks at Georgetown will be in touch with Martha, and I love that the question of scaling UMW Domains is not answered by a particular technology, but rather by investing in people and fostering relationships and conversations across campus. Now that’s scale that scales.

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