UMW Domains a Win for Open

Audrey Watters has been on an all-out tear over at Hack Education as she wraps up the year in edtech. Few, if any, in the field are sharper, more concise, and resolutely independent of the institutional and corporate entanglements that pervade this space. I’ll echo so many others who have recognized how unbelievably important her voice is as a result. That said, working independently, speaking freely, and calling out so many on their nonsense doesn’t always pay the rent, so to help ameliorate this UMW’s DTLT would like to provide a standing offer of a job for Audrey when she finally decides to settle down 😉

Until then, I totally support her writing things like what follows when ennumerating the many “wins for open” in her recent post  Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2013: The Battle for ‘Open’:”

University of Mary Washington’s “Domain of One’s Own” initiative (one of the very best things in ed-tech right now) has been picked up by other universities, including Emory and Davidson. Also, in addition to the Domain of One’s Own project, we saw efforts to “Reclaim Your Domain” and to Reclaim Hosting.

I know I’m biased, but I have to agree with Audrey 100% that Domain of One’s Own and its Reclaim tributaries are amongst the best things happening in edtech right now. And while I may have let myself get overly excited at the prospect of building on these initiatives independently over the next year as a Shuttleworth fellow, especially since I recently found out that won’t be happening, it doesn’t dull my enthusiasm in the least. Shuttleworth would have provided some nice start-up funds and a certain amount of geographical freedom for my family and I, but in the end that’s all it would have provided. The idea is still there, the people interested are still awesome, and the rejection by Shuttleworth just makes me that much more determined to make it all work.

I’ve had some time over the last week to consider what my plan will be for the coming year, and I’m doubling down on what we’re doing at UMW with Domain of One’s Own. We already have the infrastructure, the institutional support, and an amazing community of faculty, staff, and students. I’ve let myself get pulled in way too many directions this last semester between the idea of becoming a Shuttleworth fellow, entertaining  job offers, and negotiating structural shifts at UMW. That’s my fault, and I take full blame for the fractured attention to my work. But hope springs eternal, and it’s high time I put all of the distractions aside and start focusing all my energy on Domain of One’s Own. It’s what I want to do anyway, and I’m realizing I don’t need a fellowship or new surroundings for it to seem fresh. My work at UMW is not yet done, it’s time to recognize that and get locked in again!

But first I have to enjoy the next three weeks in Italy.

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5 Responses to UMW Domains a Win for Open

  1. Tim Owens says:

    Hell yes! Lets continue to lead the pack. You said something the other day in the office that resonated with me. When working on your course for the Spring, setting up a wiki, a blog, and a few other pieces you said “It’s amazing how we take for granted just how amazing this is.” You’re right and the feedback I’ve gotten from Reclaim Hosting has continually reminded me of that. This stuff is meeting a need that people have had for awhile now and weren’t sure how to get started or if they’d ever get there. I think there’s so much more we can do and it’s the perfect time to be doing it. If 2013 was the year “reclaim” broke wide open, 2014 needs to be the year we make it a real community that becomes a driving force.

    • Reverend says:

      Amen, Tim, Amen. And let’s be clear, you are ruling right now, and that’s a hard thing not to hitch my wagon to 🙂 Bring on 2014, the year distributed Edtech (or dedteech) finally broke 🙂

  2. Mariana Funes says:

    The only reason I joined was the community of like minded educators that is your vision and that is not dependent on geography or grants. I am sorry Shuttleworth chose not to support your work, Jim. I second Timmy’s point about at times forgetting how amazing the work you all do is. I am so glad that my failed experiment (well, I got the certificate, I just failed to learn 🙂 with the Open University led me to UMW. Enjoy your time in my home country – it is impossible not be happy to be alive in Italy!

    Look forward to a thriving community for Digimon next year!

    • Reverend says:

      Thanks for the kind words, and the work you have been doing on a regular basis with headless, no less the broader, remarkable idea for a digital monastery is truly inspiring. I look forward to jumping on board a bit more soon, time to reclaim some community 🙂

  3. Hi Jim,
    I just wanted to let you know that your keynote at MRI inspired me to have the first assignment in my emerging tech course (education graduate online course) to have my students create their own websites (using WordPress or any other tool they wish). I do think it is an important skill for students to learn how to create space that they control (but also, that they learn how to back it up themselves!).

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