Two days in Durham followed by two days at Wake Forest learning what’s possible with self-service web hosting in higher ed. Truly inspiring!

This fall, Wake Forest will officially roll out Reclaim Hosting, which we’re branding as Wake Sites. The service provides campus-wide web hosting for all students, faculty, and staff. To prepare for the official launch, I spent a week with the good folks from Reclaim Hosting to learn all about the technical ins and outs, and to see examples of Reclaim at work on campuses across the US.

First, some background

Reclaim Hosting began in as an in-house web hosting solution at the University of Mary Washington. Founders Jim Groom and Tim Owens called it Domain of One’s Own, an allusion to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Like Woolf, Jim and Tim believed a person needed a space of their own in order to experiment, create, and innovate. For Woolf, that meant a physical room to collect your thoughts and to write. Jim and Tim saw the same need in the 21st century, but in a web environment.

As a result, Jim and Tim created Domain of One’s Own, filling a much-needed gap in web resources available in higher ed. Luckily for us, they made the product available beyond UMW through Reclaim Hosting, which Wake began piloting in the spring of 2018 and will introduce campus-wide this fall.

Reclaim Roadshow: First stop, Durham

Last week, members of Information Systems and ZSR DISC set out for Durham, NC for the DOMAINS19 conference. The conference theme, “Back to the Future,” reflects the interesting philosophy that Reclaim’s founders have about EdTech: for a product to be useful and even revolutionary, it doesn’t necessarily have to burn everything down and build something new and shiny in its place. Existing (and even old) technologies can continue to benefit us, especially when reinvisioned in the context of the issues, anxieties, and triumphs of modern-day technology.

The conference website says it much better:

Reclaim Hosting is very excited to be running our second Domains event in 2019. We figured it was high time to get together again and we’re hoping this provides a fun and creative opportunity to explore a wide range of topics in educational technology. We are framing this event around the theme of going “Back to the Future,” a dreamvision of technoir and utopianism wherein the neon possibilities of EdTechs past merge with the shadowy data that reflects the uncertain futures of data ownership, privacy, access, targeted teaching tools, cloud infrastructures, as well as the home video market!

Yes, you read it right: home video market. In addition to running a web hosting company, they have a Reclaim Video VHS store in Fredericksburg!

But, back to Back to the Future. The conference included presentations on a variety of topics, ranging from the affordances of web preservation tools to the often overlooked concerns about student data and privacy in EdTech.

I chose to attend presentations that focused on getting Reclaim up and running on campus, as that’s what I’ve been up to for the past year and am still in the market for creative and effective ideas for Wake Sites outreach and support.

A presentation by the Reclaim team at St. Norbert College was extremely informative. The team from St. Norbert included a student tech assistant, Cassie Nooyen, who uses Domains for her personal web presence, as well as for her professional web presence that showcases her work at St. Norbert’s Tech Bar. She also has a post about her experience at the Domains19 Conference! It is really inspiring to see students using, benefiting from, and supporting Reclaim Hosting on their campuses.

The conference keynote speakers captured the creative, forward-thinking tone of the conference. Rather than focus solely on Reclaim and how to use it, the speakers imagined futures (and current situations) that come with integrating technology in the classroom, discussed the creepy reality of facial recognition technology, and connected Brasil’s tropicalia movement to potentials for digital work in higher ed.

Additionally, there were art exhibits everywhere as part of the conference! These installations were just brilliant, and instead of trying to summarize them, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

I want my MTV… (brilliant art exhibit by Ryan Seslow)

Overall, the event left our WFU group excited and ready for two more days of Reclaim training back on campus.

Reclaim Roadshow: Next stop, Winston-Salem

On Thursday and Friday, Laruen Brumfield and Jim Groom led IS, DISC and the College’s IT Group in instruction and discussion about the affordances and potentials of Reclaim at Wake. Thursday began with a walk-through of Cpanel (the dashboard for Wake Sites), and the group had an excellent time geeking out at the ease with which we can support WFU students, faculty, and staff who wish to build a digital identity in Wake Sites.

Lauren Brumfield and Jim Groom, kicking off 2-days of hands-on instruction about Reclaim Hosting at Wake.
Wake tech folks webconferencing with Reclaim cofounder, Tim Owens

On Friday, the group walked through the user-end experience of Wake Sites. Among the many cool things we learned about were SPLOTs, interactive sites that have a TON of potential for classroom projects and crowdsourced research. One of the coolest features of splots is that NO ONE HAS TO SIGN IN TO CONTRIBUTE ! Imagine that–a course blog without registering users, helping with forgotten passwords, and worrying about students accessing the course dashboard and accidentally deleting it all. Brilliant.

On Friday we were also joined via webconference by Alan Levine, creator of the SPLOTs, plus other innovative Reclaim adopters to hear about how they are using their domains to encourage creativity and innovation on their campuses.

Having virtual coffee with innovative Relcaimers

I’ll stop here, but there’s so much more to share! If you want to learn more about hosting your professional site, creating a class site, or empowering your students to build their own sites using Wake Sites, please let me know! I can’t wait to share the ideas and excitement about what Reclaim Hosting can do for digital scholarship and pedagogy at Wake.

Carrie goofin’ around with Lauren and Jim at the end of a very good Reclaim week

Update, 7/11/19:

Very glad to report that the excitement about the Wake Forest-Reclaim Hosting partnership is is mutual: Thanks to Jim Groom for an excellent recap of Reclaim’s visit to Wake!