Teaching Without WordPress: Exploring the Known World

During our trip to Norman, Oklahoma to visit a bunch of tuned in and turned on Sooners (more on that trip soon) Tim and I were excitedly talking about our time in LA at the Reclaim Your Domain hackathon. One of the things the many things that came out of the hackathon for me was experimenting with the open source application Known. It’s being developed by Ben Werdmuller and Erin Jo Richey, and they were at the hackathon exploring how they might use this tool in education. Turns out much of the ethos around Reclaim Your Domain (own our content, take control of your online self, interrogate the web) gels neatly with the tenets undergirding IndieWebCamp.

A couple of things I like about Known:

POSSE: It instantiates many of the principals at the heart of Domain of One’s Own, particularly the IndieWeb Camp acronym POSSE –Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. What’s push, it’s push rather than pull so it can begin to get at the idea of accessing the APIs of various social media silos like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, SoundCloud, etc. and pushing out to them while controlling the original.

nowordpressIt’s Not WordPress: I mean this with the utmost affection. I love WordPress, and it could even be argued UMW has pushed harder than any other institution out there on its promise and possibilities for teaching and learning. In fact, we still do. But one of the things we realized when starting up Domain of One’s Own is that WordPress has become too central to our thinking—risking myopia. We owe it to ourselves to experiment with other tools and technologies.

A Distributed, Open Source Tumblr: One of the things that appealed to me immediately about Known is the simple, Tumblresque interface. Various content types, lightweight admin bar, frontend publishing, and a minimalist aesthetic. It’s everything I have learned to love about Tumblr, with the bonus of being open source and designed to capture a distributed network.

link-building-101-finding-web-mentionsDistributed Comments: Thanks to the developers in and around the IndieWeb movement, a nut we’ve been trying to crack with WordPress aggregation—syndicating comments—has been elegantly dealt with thanks to the Web Mentions protocol. A crucial element for connecting distributed communities is baked into applications like Known, which represent a whole new wave of web application.

15_1910In on the Groundfloor: Known is both clean and robust, and for a new application it’s extremely usable. This means we (Tim, myself, 60+ UMW students, and anyone else out there who wants to experiment) have the unique opportunity to team up with Ben and Erin to see if we can design the next generation edtech syndication hub.

We’re going live with Known for ds106 and tic104 this Fall, and I couldn’t be more excited to return to experimental mode. We needed it, and thanks to Tim, ben and Erin, we got it in spades. Jazzercise, bitches!

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