Tag: Open Web (Page 1 of 8)

WP Campus 18 First Notes

This week, I’m attending WP Campus 18 in St. Louis, MO. For the conference, presenters are encouraged to create some sort of online artifact (usually a WP site) to share their slides and resources. Here’s mine.

I’m really impressed by the conference in terms of some of the organizational things they are doing.

  • Online artifacts
  • Almost all of the talks are live-streamed and recorded, and kept open on the schedule page for the conference.
  • Before each talk, the organizers give a brief talk about the online audience and reasserting the Code of Conduct.
  • There are nightly events for networking.
  • Lunch is on site and they set up ‘birds of a feather’ tables.

Pretty much everything about the conference is going well. Their website (in WP obviously) has a ton of information for attendees and some cool features in how it’s built. There are things about the conference that wouldn’t work at scale, but I’m taking a lot of notes on things that I want to borrow for my other conferences.

Why Domain

As part of his work in introducing Domain of One’s Own at Ontario Extend, Alan Levine posted the questions that I answer below. I haven’t been blogging enough recently, so I thought this was a good chance to document some of my own DoOO thoughts and kickstart my writing.

What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?

My domain name is https://johnastewart.org. From front to back, the difference between https and http is a security certificate. Our partners at Reclaim Hosting make it dead easy to get an SSL certificate, and I think all of the internet search engines are going to increasingly favor sites with security certificates over the next few years.

My domain name itself is just my name. John Stewart is an incredibly common name, so I threw in my middle initial for some small degree of disambiguation.

I chose .org rather than .com because of their historical significance. Originally, .com meant that you were visiting a commercial website, and .org signified a non-profit organizational site. I work for a university, and when I set up my site, I was an adjunct lecturer, which is about as non-profit as it gets. I still advocate open pedagogy, OER, open note-taking, open coding, and a general distrust of capitalism, so I think it fits.

What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?

I had been trying to set up a couple of .php based websites for a few years before I started this domain. Early in my grad career, I tried to start an online, open journal for publishing work by graduate students studying the History of Science. At the time, my university only offered 5MB of webspace and only supported HTML in that space. Eventually, I registered both that journal and a separate Digital Humanities project (situatingchemistry.org) with a corporate web host.

In 2013, the University of Oklahoma launched the pilot for OU Create, a Domain of One’s Own initiative. I went to the initial pitch by Jim Groom and Adam Croom, and was user number #13 with this domain.

What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?

I really wanted to be able to run modern CMS apps, particularly Drupal. Both my Situating Chemistry site and the Open Journal System I built are built on Drupal and require a LAMP environment. With this site, I wanted to start blogging – or thinking out loud as Laura Gogia and others in the DoOO community call(ed) it.

What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!

I’m currently the project manager for OU Create. We have about 5000 users and 6000 websites, so I feel like all of them are part of my current work on domains. You can see recent posts on our Feed WordPress site, community.oucreate.com/activity and you can get a sense of what type of sites people are using at community.oucreate.com/sites.

I have about 30 sites up and running on my domain. Most are demonstration sites that I use when introducing DoOO to either classes or faculty development groups. My larger projects include the Situating Chemistry site and subdomains like my Wiki faculty development workshop: flc.johnastewart.org. I also have designed sites for faculty projects on the history of education in Oklahoma (docnarr.oucreate.com):

Screen shot of docnarr.oucreate.com

and progettovitaliano.com:

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 of progettovitaliano.com

What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?

I really like sites like cog.dog. I think these simple sites built in HTML are faster and more elegant than most WordPress based sites. If I had to do it over again, I’d build my main site using an HTML5up.net landing page with lots of other projects in subdomains.

What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?

I think I will probably do what I said above. I think I can move the blog feed into a subdirectory (johnastewart.org/blog), leave all the posts where they are, and create a space for a nice landing site.

For OU Create more broadly, we are playing with what DoOO v2 looks like. We are trying to figure out how to help people get into the apps they want to use more quickly, how to support non-SQL based systems (MongoDB, node.js, etc), and how to keep costs as low as possible.

What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own? What will it take them to get going with their own domain?

My usual pitch centers on the superabundance of information available to us now. When I start a research project or try to figure out some new system, I search the  internet. There’s a cornucopia of resources, so I generally find a ton of great information, and I quickly start working through my project. If you’re not on the internet, if you don’t have a website, there’s a roughly 0% chance I will come across your work. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written 5 books and 20 great articles, if you and they are not online, I’m not going out of my way to find them. But if I come across one of your articles, and I can look you up and find your other work, I will do a deep dive into everything you’ve ever said. Your discoverability as a teacher is also vital to attracting grad students who want to know what you’re researching.

Live from OLC

One of the new features that we introduced at OLC Innovate this year was an online live stream that we called OLC Live. Through the magic of Zoom, we conducted more than twenty interviews and gave tours of the conference. You can see the YouTube playlist here: bit.ly/olcliveplaylist.

We were inspired in large part by the excellent work of Virtually Connecting. VC organizes Google Hangouts at dozens of conferences every year in an attempt to open the conference up to people who couldn’t attend in person. VC was active at OLC Innovate this year, hosting four sessions, and the leader on the ground of that effort, Autumm Caines, was also part of our OLC Live team.

Along with Autumm, Dave Goodrich, Kelvin Thompson and I collaborated to line up and conduct interviews and engage our online audience. I had not anticipated how much Zoom would support us, providing both the equipment for the broadcast and the help of the wonderful Paul Carmack, who became our producers for the 3-day long experiment.

Looking back on the experiment, I thought that the interview format worked really well. All of the interviews were great, including several sessions that were switched from discussions to interviews (e.g. Ken Bauer and Laura Gibbs). The interview-on-the-street sessions were also stellar. Dave and Autumm brought us into the Innovation Lab and Innovation Installation, and I think people got a good sense of  both of those spaces. 

The main shortcoming was that I did not do enough advertising and recruiting for online participation. We didn’t know how much organic participation we would get, which left us waiting until the conference started to see what happened. I wish we would have stuck with Virtually Connecting’s strategy of recruiting a list of participants for each discussion section. While this would have limited the size of the participant group, it would have also insured us against not having a participant group. I hope to replace the discussion sections next year with VC sections, if we can convince them to do 1 or 2 a day.

For next year, I would like to integrate OLC Live more into some of the other stuff going on at OLC Innovate. The most obvious place to do this would be to collaborate with the HBCU Summit and the Community College Summit. I would love if they hosted a couple hours each from their space to bring people into those conversations. I don’t know if those sessions take the form of interviews, VC sessions, man-on-the-street, or something new. We would likely still need to support these sessions from a production level.

I was nervous about having dead-air this year, but we ended up adopting a format where we cut away at the end of each segment to encapsulate pieces for YouTube. This worked really well and allowed us to have natural breaks in-between sessions. I would plan at least 10-15 minute breaks in between sessions next year, and would go off air completely during lunch, keynotes, and other events that are being streamed.


Kelvin Thompson kicked off the first session and was a fantastic anchor for OLC Live throughout the first day of the conference. One of the most surprising conversations of OLC Live came in the first 20 minutes of the broadcast, when we were joined by Jim Gareth from Lakewood College. Jim was unfamiliar with OLC and the Innovate conference, but joined OLC Live, because of a tweet from Kelvin. This conversation gave Kelvin a chance to explain what our conference and our Live broadcast were about.

The next clip comes from one of Dave and Autumm’s tours of the conference. In this clip, Dave and Autumm walk us through the OLC Innovation Lab, helmed this year by the effervescent Keegan Long Wheeler.

One of the most important interviews of the conference was Autumm’s conversation with Kate Sonka and Michael Berman. They, along with Chris Gilliard, were co-chairs of the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

I conducted the last two interviews of the conference. The first of these was with one of the conference keynote speakers, Jordan Shapiro. Jordan gave a provocative talk about how time is a construct, and we should rethink the routinized daily schedules of school.

The last interview was with Jess Knott, Angela Gunder, and Cathy Russell. Most of our conversation focused on their presentation about applying Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth to learning design. Jess and Angela were conference co-chairs, so we also talked about their experience of the conference and their hopes for next year.

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