Reply to Don’t let your online strategy become a conversation about which LMS to use by Tannis Morgan

Replied to Don’t let your online strategy become a conversation about which LMS to use by Tannis MorganTannis Morgan (Explorations in the EdTech World)
Here’s the short of it. LMS’s do some things really well and are not going to go away. We still use an LMS at our institution, and while I would really like the vendor to invest some of our hard earned license fees into making it a more user friendly tool, we still need an LMS. However, I’ve tried really hard to make sure our online strategy does not start and finish with the LMS, and yes, it is an ongoing battle.

This article presents an excellent point. I also see a lot of what I would call IndieWeb philosophy bubbling up within this argument, and perhaps the edtech space could benefit from some of their ideas, set up, and design?  If you like, we could take the analogy IndieWeb:Social Silos::Educational Technology:Learning Management Systems and extend it.

Much like the demise of the innovation on the web and within the blogosphere as the result of the commodification of social media by silo corporations like Facebook, Twitter, and others around 2006, the technology space in education has become too addicted to corporate products and services. Many of these services cover some broad functionality, but they have generally either slowed down or quit innovating, quit competing with each other, are often charging exorbitant prices, and frequently doing unethical things with the data they receive from their users. The major difference between the two spaces is that Big Social Media is doing it on a much bigger scale and making a lot more money and creating greater damage as a result.

Instead, let me make some recommendations to thought leaders in the space for more humanistic and holistic remedy. Follow the general philosophies and principles of the IndieWeb movement. Dump (or at least gradually move away from) your corporately built LMS and start building one of your own. Ideally, open source what you build so that others can improve it and build upon it. In the end, you, your classes, your departments, and your institutions will be all the stronger for it. You can have more direct control over your own data (and that of your students, which deserves to be treated more ethically). You can build smaller independent pieces that are interchangeable and inter-operable. The small pieces may also allow new unpredictable functionalities when put together. You can build to make better user interfaces, better functionality, and get what you’d like to have instead of just what you’re given.

Sure, doing this may be somewhat uncomfortable in the near term, but many hands over many institutions, building and crafting a variety of solutions will result in a much better and more robust product–and one that we all can “own” and benefit from. By open sourcing, many hands will make light work. Imagine what the state of online learning, Open Educational Resources (OER), and open pedagogy would look like if the hundreds of institutions had put all of their LMS related funding over the past decade into even a handful of open source programmers instead of corporately controlled interests?

Already within the article, there is a short list of potential solutions one could look to as LMS replacements. Those that are open source are literally crying out to not only be used, but to be improved upon so that everyone can benefit from those improvements. Other related options might include

For solid examples of what can be accomplished, we can also look toward individual developers like Stephen Downes and projects like gRSShopper or Alan Levine and his many open source repositories. There are also individuals like Greg McVerry, who is using free and opensource content management systems like WordPress and WithKnown to push the envelope of what is possible with classroom interactions using simple internet protocols like Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, and bleeding edge readers using MicroSub, and Robin DeRosa, who is creating her own OER materials. These are just a few of thousands of individuals hacking away at small, but discrete problems and then helping out others.

At the higher end we can see broad movements like A Domain of One’s Own (DoOO), which empowers students students and faculty by giving them their own domain names and hosting as well as web-based tools to leverage these benefits. (I often look at the DoOO movement as IndieWeb for Education, but without as much emphasis on building for oneself.)

There are even ethical companies like Reclaim Hosting who are doing some excellent and tremendous work in the DoOO space. The benefit of the way these systems are built and maintained however, is that should Reclaim cease offering their excellent support, benefits, and add-ons, individuals or institutions could relatively easily take all of their data and applications and move them to another provider. This provides a massive incentive for service companies to continue iterating and improving on their work as well as the services they offer. Sadly, some of these mechanisms don’t exist this way within much of the corporate LMS space. But they certainly could and should.

For those who are interested, feel free to do some research into some of these areas and tools. Join the DoOO or IndieWeb.org communities. Build your own tools, give feedback to developers of opensource projects to help them improve. Give them some of your time and resources to make these communities and spaces better and stronger over time. Feel free to join the IndieWeb chat to meet folks virtually and discuss these ideas, or use the IndieWeb wiki (the IndieWeb for Education page is an excellent place to start) to not only read, but to contribute back ideas, tools, links, and resources for others. (The wiki has a CC0 license.)

I’m always happy to help people begin to find their way in some of these resources if they need it to get started.

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Reply to Greg McVerry about DoOO paper

Replied to a post by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry (Quick Thoughts)
@chrisaldrich @jackjamieson and I are writing a case study analysis on #IndieWeb and #DoOO using GitHub markdown. It is a chapter for @shsabrams is editing. GitHub is a decent collaborative research space.

For a few minutes, I thought I was being drafted in as an author, in which case I’ll need some additional background information. I did find the repo.

Then I thought it might be a status update where it might be more apropos to replace the word “writing” with “living”.

But perhaps it was a simple @mention to notify me of an awesome little project?

In any case, I’m in, just let me know how much you need, when, and where!

🙂

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🔖 academicpages is a ready-to-fork GitHub Pages template for academic personal websites

Bookmarked academicpages is a ready-to-fork GitHub Pages template for academic personal websites (academicpages.github.io)
This is the front page of a website that is powered by the academicpages template and hosted on GitHub pages. GitHub pages is a free service in which websites are built and hosted from code and data stored in a GitHub repository, automatically updating when a new commit is made to the respository. This template was forked from the Minimal Mistakes Jekyll Themecreated by Michael Rose, and then extended to support the kinds of content that academics have: publications, talks, teaching, a portfolio, blog posts, and a dynamically-generated CV. You can fork this repository right now, modify the configuration and markdown files, add your own PDFs and other content, and have your own site for free, with no ads! An older version of this template powers my own personal website at stuartgeiger.com, which uses this Github repository.
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❤️ staeiou tweet: GitHub pages template supporting CV-style content for academics

Liked a tweet by Stuart GeigerStuart Geiger (Twitter)

More academics should definitely try this out! For those who might need help or support, check in with the #IndieWeb community via chat or find resources at https://indieweb.org/Indieweb_for_Education
#academicsamizdat #edtech #phdlife #phdchat #DoOO

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👓 Someone bought BrettKavanaugh.com and made it a forum to help sexual assault survivors | CNN

Read Someone bought BrettKavanaugh.com and made it a forum to help sexual assault survivors (CNN)
Don't go to BrettKavanaugh.com looking for information about the nation's new Supreme Court Justice.

I read this article and want to coin the term “domain gilding” as a sub-category of domain squatting. I’m curious if others can think of examples?

Domain gilding: using the method of domain squatting with the intent of helping a potentially corporate or personal branded website accomplish more good in the world than if it were to be used by the person, company, or concept that might otherwise be broadly associated with the name.

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👓 The Pre-Challenge Challenge – Setting Up for the 9 X 9 X 25 | Extend Domains

Read The Pre-Challenge Challenge – Setting Up for the 9 X 9 X 25 (Domains of Our Own)
This post will be a series of questions. If you answer yes to the question, skip to the next one! If you answer no, follow the links for further detail. If you’re thinking “I’d ra…
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👓 The 9X9X25 Challenge – More, but not all, the details | Extend Domains

Read The 9X9X25 Challenge – More, but not all, the details (Domains of Our Own)
This could be a pretty easy challenge if you’re already a reflective educator. Even easier if you’re already on a team of reflective educators! We want to collect your reflections on th…
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Educators:

Interested in making the internet and your preexisting website your personal/professional social media platform? Here are some of my favorite examples:
Greg McVerry, W. Ian O’Byrne, Kimberly Hirsch, Kathleen Fitzgerald, John Johnston, Aaron Davis, Cathie LeBlanc, and Dan Cohen

Take a look at IndieWeb for Education for more examples and details.

Ask us about the value of adding technologies like Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, and others to your personal or professional website to interact with others directly from a domain of your own on the web.

Featured image courtesy of laurapomeroy via Pixabay under CC0 license.

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👓 Google Sheets Blogging CMS, part 1 | John A. Stewart

Replied to Google Sheets Blogging CMS, part 1 by John StewartJohn Stewart (John Stewart)
This is the first post in a three part series on using Google Sheets as the database for a blogging CMS. In this post, I’ll explain the motivations for building the system. In the second post, I’ll walk you through the Google Sheet itself and the Google scripts (their version of js) that drive it. In the third post, I’ll share the website that displays the blog, and the code behind it. My guess is that interest in the three pieces will vary for different audiences, so I wanted to encapsulate the descriptions.

I generally like where John is taking this idea and the fact that he’s actively experimenting and documenting what he’s coming up with as potential solutions. While I do like some of the low-tech angle that he’s taking, I’m not sure, based on what he’s written, how some of it will come out within the broader spectrum of DoOO or IndieWeb-related technologies.

For example:

  • How easy/hard will it be for students to own/export their data after the class?
  • How might they interact if they’re already within the DoOO cohort or already self-hosting  their own space?
  • What are the implications for students of maintaining multiple spaces with a variety of technologies and therefor overhead?
  • I’ve never had a lot of luck with Disqus, which I find to be heavy and often has problems with auto-marking all of my content as spam. I’ve definitely found it to be an issue with using for POSSE workflows. Worse, with the introduction of specifications like Webmention to the DoOO space, students could be writing their responses to classmates and teachers on their own sites and thereby owning all of that content too, but with Disqus, this just isn’t possible.

I’ll reserve judgement for once I’ve seen some of the code and further ideas in parts II and III as I suspect he’s likely taken some of these issues into account.

We’ve played with this concept of front-end blogging for a while now. Alan Levine has built an open sourced tool called TRU Writer that even provides this type of front end interface on a WordPress site.  

I’m curious if John, Alan Levine, or others have yet come across the concept of Micropub? It generalizes the idea of a posting client and interface so that it could work with almost any CMS-related back end. I could see people building custom micropub clients for the education space, or even using some of the pre-existing ones like Quill, InkStone, or Micropublish.net. Many of them also use JSON or form encoded data that they could also be using with platforms like the one John describes here. The other nice part about them is that they’re flexible and relatively open in more ways than one, so they don’t necessarily need to be rebuilt from scratch for each new CMS out there.

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Reply to Robin DeRosa et al on archiving and self-hosting in DoOO

Replied to a tweet by Robin DeRosaRobin DeRosa (Twitter)

I had read Dave Winer’s post† and shortly thereafter Mike Caulfield’s response, which was similar to some of my own reaction (particularly the analogy to nature and proliferation of copies via means of DNA, etc.)

I’ve recently outlined how ideas like a Domain of One’s Own and IndieWeb philosophies could be used to allow researchers and academics to practice academic samizdat on the open web to own and maintain their own open academic research and writing. A part of this process is the need to have useful and worthwhile back up and archiving ability as one thing we have come to know in the history of the web is that link rot is not our friend.

Toward that end, for those in the space I’ll point out some useful resources including the IndieWeb wiki pages for archival copies. Please contribute to it if you can. Another brilliant resource is the annual Dodging the Memory Hole conference which is run by the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

While Dodging the Memory Hole is geared toward saving online news in particular, many of the conversations are nearly identical to those in the broader archival space and also involve larger institutional resources and constituencies like the Internet Archive, the Library of Congress, and university libraries as well. The conference is typically in the fall of each year and is usually announced in August/September sometime, so keep an eye out for its announcement. In the erstwhile, they’ve recorded past sessions and have archive copies of much of their prior work in addition to creating a network of academics, technologists, and journalists around these ideas and related work. I’ve got a Twitter list of prior DtMH participants and stake-holders for those interested.

I’ll also note briefly, that as I self-publish on my own self-hosted domain, I use a simple plugin so that both my content and the content to which I link are being sent to the Internet Archive to create copies there. In addition to semi-regular back ups I make locally, this hopefully helps to mitigate potential future loss and link rot.

As a side note, major bonus points to Robin DeRosa (@actualham) for the use of the IndieWeb hashtag in her post!!

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❤️ actualham tweet

Liked a tweet by Robin DeRosaRobin DeRosa (Twitter)
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👓 A Provocation for the Open Pedagogy Community | Hapgood

Read A Provocation for the Open Pedagogy Community by Mike CaulfieldMike Caulfield (Hapgood)
Dave Winer has a great post today on the closing of blogs.harvard.edu. These are sites run by Berkman, some dating back to 2003, which are being shut down. My galaxy brain goes towards the idea of …

An interesting take on self-hosting and DoOO ideas with regard to archiving and maintaing web presences. I’ll try to write a bit more on this myself shortly as it’s an important area that needs to be expanded for all on the open web.

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👓 Friday, August 10, 2018 | Scripting News

Read Friday, August 10, 2018 by Dave Winer (Scripting News)
I got an email in the middle of the night asking if I had seen an announcement from Berkman Center at Harvard that they will stop hosting blogs.harvard.edu. It's not clear what will happen to the archives. Let's have a discussion about this. That was the first academic blog hosting system anywhere. It was where we planned and reported on our Berkman Thursday meetups, and BloggerCon. It's where the first podcasts were hosted. When we tried to figure out what makes a weblog a weblog, that's where the result was posted. There's a lot of history there. I can understand turning off the creation of new posts, making the old blogs read-only, but as a university it seems to me that Harvard should have a strong interest in maintaining the archive, in case anyone in the future wants to study the role we played in starting up these (as it turns out) important human activities.

This is some earthshaking news. Large research institutions like this should be maintaining archives of these types of things in a defacto manner. Will have to think about some implications for others in the DoOO and IndieWeb spaces.

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👓 Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own | Connected Learning Alliance

Read Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own by Doug BelshawDoug Belshaw (Connected Learning Alliance)
Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through online means, you could guarantee they had their own domain name. It was just before the big explosion in social media use which meant that if you wanted a space online, you had to create it. This provided a barrier to entry in terms of the digital literacy skills required to register a domain, set up the necessary software and, of course, design, build and upload a website. The upside was that your digital identity was yours. That domain name could be your gamer tag, it could be your real name, it could be a heteronym — it was up to you!

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through online means, you could guarantee they had their own domain name. It was just before the big explosion in social media use which meant that if you wanted a space online, you had to create it. This provided a barrier to entry in terms of the digital literacy skills required to register a domain, set up the necessary software and, of course, design, build and upload a website. The upside was that your digital identity was yours.  

Why have we gotten away from this? In short, I think it’s because it was easier for big companies with massive resources to do the initial heavy lifting.

If we look at history, Gutenberg created the first printing press and guarded it heavily for years. Eventually others figured out how to do it and printing presses spread like wildfire. Now, with some modest means and some time, almost anyone can publish.

With simple standards and accessible hosting people can now broadly own their own domain name and create their own websites using a variety of content management systems. In a few years, this will be even more ubiquitous. Facebook is going to be just like Gutenberg attempting to hold onto his monopoly, but failing miserably.

The best part, I think, is that the speed of digital technology means that the Facebook edifice is going to crumble faster than Gutenberg’s.

Twitter and Facebook are publicly-traded companies and beholden to shareholders looking to make a profit. Google, which owns YouTube and processes over 70% of the world’s search traffic, is likewise legally obliged to return a profit.  

legally obligated? they’re definitely supposed to try or shareholders may move their money elsewhere, but why can’t they create things for the common good as well?

A world where one’s primary identity is found through the social people-farms of existing social networks is a problematic one. Educators and parents are in the privileged position of being able to help create a better future, but we need to start modeling to future generations what that might look like.  

This is exactly what I’ve been attempting to do with my own website. Naturally I use it selfishly for my own purposes, but I’m also using it to model potential behaviours for friends, family and colleagues.

I’m sometimes tempted to change the tagline on my website to “A digital canary in the coalmine”.

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📺 No Digital Facelifts: Thinking the Unthinkable About Open Educational Experiences | YouTube

Watched No Digital Facelifts: Thinking the Unthinkable About Open Educational Experiences by Gardner Campbell, Jim Groom from YouTube

Interesting thoughts about identity (both offline and online) presented here.

The idea of decorating one’s locker as an example of presenting one’s identity in school is interesting. I also liked the idea that students continued using a forum long after the class was over–presumably because it represented their identity and connections and relationships from the class.