We’re getting ready here for a 2-day visit from Adam Croom, director of the office of digital learning at University of Oklahoma who has done so much to help inspire and and strengthen our still fledgling Domain of One’s Own initiative at Muhlenberg (DoOOM). Adam’s visit is the official launch of DoOOM campuswide, after a much smaller spring pilot with a faculty learning community and students enrolled in their courses.
On Monday, we’ve scheduled time for students to work with Adam on their domains. The first Muhlenberg students signed up for domains last spring, just about 6 months ago. Several more students signed up for domains a few weeks ago with the start of fall courses integrating DoOO in their work. So time with Adam, who has been working with students on DoOO for a few years now, will be productive and purposeful. The opportunity to look at students’ domains from OU, and to hear about the work and ideas growing there, will hopefully help students at Muhlenberg develop an understanding that the work they are beginning with DoOOM is connected to something larger than our small campus.
The following evening, Adam will headline an event, Domains in Progress, that celebrates and recognizes the time and energy faculty, staff, and students have directed towards their domains since last spring. This is the part of the two-day visit I’m most looking forward to, because it affords us a much needed opportunity to pause in the work and take some measure of its meanings, early impacts, challenges, and possibilities. Faculty and staff participating in the DoOOM FLC collectively decided last spring that we’re not quite ready for a “showcase” of domains, like the Creaties at OU. But six months into this work, it’s a perfect moment to recognize the early progress faculty, staff, and students have made in imagining how domains can be a resource for building a better home on the web for teaching, learning, and scholarship in the liberal arts.
Most of all, in welcoming Adam to Muhlenberg we’re inviting reflection. Reflection is a practice and a habit that we aim to cultivate among students in the liberal arts learning, but often have too little time for our own regular reflective practices. Without time to reflect, it is all too easy to become detached from the meaning that shapes the work in the first place, as well as the relationships that are at the center of our digital learning efforts. If DoOO is about reclaiming some control over our data, our digital identities and presence, the space of these next two days holds promise as a kind of retreat into reflection and dialogue that is nearly impossible to sustain in our current schedules on campus. Everyone seems to be juggling an impossible number of projects and pressures.
So we get to slow down just a bit, just enough to reflect on and think collectively about what we want Domain of One’s Own at Muhlenberg to look like. This begins with recognition and thanks for the thoughtful efforts and expertise of Tim Clarke, Jordan Noyes, and Jenna Azar, as well as the Digital Learning Assistants, who play such a significant role in cultivating a community of practice around DoOOM. (And without whom we really would be DoOOMed).