Rosie the Riveter dot umw dot edu

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 3.10.49 PMSo, it’s been over a year since UMW has had it’s main .edu website running on WordPress. DTLT has been experimenting with the possibilities of aggregating posts from UMW Blogs into umw.edu (in fact, this post will aggregate into DTLT’s site on umw.edu). But the cooler part is to start experimenting with bringing the work students and faculty are doing in the classroom to the university’s website, and to that end Jess Rigelhaupt’s Oral History class last semester has done some really cool things.

Every semester I come and talk to this particular class about the possibilities for creating an open, online space to share the documentary histories they create over the course of the semester. We look at a ton of sites, and imagine what’s possible for them. The final project/product for the entire class is to build a site and populate it with all the documentary media on the assigned topic they create, collect, and curate for the world to access—public education writ large!

So, this past Fall semester they were working on Rosie the Riveter (very few topics could be cooler) and they decided they wanted to design the site to look like a umw.edu site—I imagine because they thought the school’s website looks pretty damned good, which it does! So midway through the semester we copied the theme used for umw.edu sites to UMW Blogs so they could have at it for their Rosie the Riveter project on UMW Blogs—which was at rosietheriveter.umwblogs.org. However, soon after we got the theme up the idea of “wouldn’t it be cool if this site was using umw.edu versus umwblogs.org” arose. And, as usual, we have the technology! All we had to do in this case is map the domain rosietheriveter.umw.edu onto umwblogs—and voila the resource site is using the umw.edu domain seamlessly!

The Rosie the Riveter Song as found here on Rosie the Riveter dot umw dot edu

Now, eventually I would love to see courses logging into umw.edu to create these kinds of resource sites, or having a seamless ways to syndicate and clone their work from umwblogs to umw.edu. But in the interim, I love this site as an example of what’s possible. Moreover, and more importantly, the students’ work is amazing. They have compelling oral history documentaries, a section that curates the pop culture films of the era (with everything from Woody Woodpecker to Hemp farming to a Syphillis PSA—now that’s educational!), as well as numerous interviews with local folks who share their experiences of living through that era.This is another example of undergraduate research at UMW finding its way into the public domain for the sake of sharing and making the world that much cooler. UMW has not forgotten the struggle, and we have not forgotten the streets 😉

500 Open Courses on UMW Blogs


500
At the beginning of every semester I get a hankering to post something about UMW Blogs. I don’t know why, it has arrived to the point that it’s more like air than technology around campus at this point. We regularly have more than 50 faculty using this platform any given semester as a space to share their teaching out in the open, and after five and a half years of UMW Blogs now  have more than 500 courses on the system (and this doesn’t include courses from the 2007/2008 academic year—we didn’t start tracking them until Fall 08). What’s more, since we started tracking traffic on UMW Blogs in the Fall of 2009 we have had more than five million unique visitors and almost twelve million page views—two million of which came last semester alone.

Five hundred open educational experiences laid bare to the world at large, each one a love letter to the ideal of thinking, sharing, and creating on the open web as part of a public institution. To be clear absolutely clear, a number of those courses have been taught several times, and the courses are uneven to say the least. But that’s part of the experience—it must remain a space for experimentation, and with that comes false starts, mid-stream re-thinking, and, sometimes, abandonment of an experiment gone awry in order to re-group for the next one. Not failure but learning. I want to take a moment to recognize all the awesome faculty, students, and staff at UMW that make this kind of sharing of the work we do possible on a regular basis, you all rock!