I work at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) as my day job. (It’s currently 2017). We are a graduate school of Middlebury College. (For the confused, the Institute is located in Monterey, CA. The College is in Middlebury, VT. There are also other entities of Middlebury associated with us, such as the Middlebury Breadloaf School of English, the Middlebury Language Schools, and more.)
One digital initiative that Middlebury (all of Middlebury) is involved in is called “Domain of One’s Own,” or DoOO. (Pronounce it however you want!) Middlebury’s instance of DoOO is called MiddCreate, and is offered through the Office of Digital Learning at Middlebury. I also help support the initiative through my work in the Digital Learning Commons.
MiddCreate was in its pilot phase in 2015/2016. We officially launched the initiative in the fall of 2016 and are wrapping up our first year of offering anyone in the Middlebury community a domain of their own. We have learned a lot over the course of the pilot and the first year. But we also still have a lot of questions.
We were grateful, then, that our hosting provider, Reclaim Hosting, teamed up with Oklahoma University and our consultant Adam Croom who spearheads the OU DoOO project, called OU Create, to host the first ever conference for DoOO schools, called Domains 2017.
About the Conference
Domains 2017 took place in Oklahoma City on June 5th & 6th, 2017, at the 21C Museum Hotel.
It was two full days of conversation, knowledge sharing, ideas, and a bit of overwhelm, in the interesting environment of a wedding-themed art exhibition, with large purple penguins thrown in for variety.
There was a fantastic keynote and a gallery fair to kick it off. The rest of the conference was a choice of 2-3 concurrent sessions by presenters who offered both technical how-to tutorials and a critical lens on the idea of DoOO and what it means in terms of pedagogy and flipping the traditional academic world on its head.
Honestly, I am less personally invested in the idea of pedagogy—a word I had never said out loud before I started working at a graduate school, but which is something that a lot of people care deeply about, especially people at this conference.
I was excited to meet people from other schools who are also offering domains to their faculty, staff, and students. I wanted to know how they were doing it, and what unique results they had experienced. I wondered if we might be able to share resources in some way or form a community to bounce ideas off of one another and offer help beyond the bounds of the conference.
I wanted to know how they supported the platform at their schools, what skills they had and which ones they lacked, how to dealt with questions of privacy and security, and what level of hand-holding they offered to people who were completely new to the idea of having a domain of their own.
Finally, I wanted to see if any of them did something other than install WordPress on their domains, or at the very least what extraordinary things were being done with WordPress beyond the default theme and “Hello World.”
Who was actually using their domain in a way that demonstrated their uniqueness and took back their “agency”—DoOO ideas that I’ve seen touted over and over but haven’t been convinced were actually practiced.
So yes, I went in with a bit of skepticism, but also a willingness to learn and a great curiosity to see what else was out there. I came away with a teeny bit of discouragement at how far we all still have to go, but also a mind buzzing with possibility of what we can do!
As I finish my reflections on each of the parts of the conference I will be posting more. Check back soon!