Designing a Hardboiled Course Site

Designing the Hardboiled lit course site over the last couple of weeks has been fun. I’m modeling it very much on the way I built the early ds106 course sites in the Spring and Fall of 2010. I love TwentyTen because it is the closest thing to K2 on the market, and I remain old school. Tim Owens cracks smart about my devotion to this theme, but he’s a philistine. Twentyten4life!

Anyway, so I am using the TwentyTen theme and the course site is an aggregation hub of all the students work that will be syndicated in from their own blogs. This course will be one of the 10 or 11 courses this semester piloting the Domain of One’s Own project at UMW. What’s nice about this is I can actually approach the beginning of the course as a discussion about their digital identity, the experimentation UMW is doing to encourage them to think about the digital space and their learning, as well as having them think about how they might become sysadmins of their education. What’s nice, too, is that this is a literature course, so it will push us to think about how we can use digital media to think and talk about literature—for many the divorce between the two is all too academic, I want to disrupt that. It was easy for people to dismiss what we did with ds106 because that’s “digital storytelling,” now it is time to show the people what can be done with a lit class and a few good animated GIFs :)

Part of what is fun about the Domain of One’s Own is each class can have its own domain. I took advantage of that and purchased murderinc.biz as the course domain. I’ve never had a biz domain, and I figured it was high time. The actual course blog is run through UWM Blogs, I am just mapping blog.murderinc.biz onto it. I am also experimenting with Tumblr this semester, and I am mapping the domain tumblr.murderinc.biz on that site as well. I’ll have the students experiment similarly, demonstrating their options for creating their own blog, mapping on top of an existing service, or some combination of the two. I am working on documentation for this process currently here.

The syllabus and course calendar were created in the UMW Blogs wiki and are being pulled seamlessly into the blog pages using the outdated, but still awesome Wiki Inc plugin—we’ll be upgrading sometime this semester to Wiki Embed thanks to the awesome folks at UBC! Finally, I am going to work with martha on Monday if possible to see if we can;t use Gravity Forms on UMW Blogs to automate the way the course site creates users on UMW Blogs and automatically pulls their feeds into FeedWordPress, associates them with the correct author automatically, and tags every post with the hardboiled tag. Martha has figured out how to automate FeedWordPress using Gravity Forms, and it’s awesome.  She’s already got it working on #ds106 and David Wiley’s EdStartUp 101 site, which means this is an approach we might see more an more of for other courses that want to using a syndication/hub model. What’s even cooler is we should be able to roll-out a more streamlined approach for the aggregator/hub approach using FeedWordPress on UMW Blogs just in time to support the Domain of One’s Own push to have students manage their own work and syndicate it appropriately.

The course will alos be doing assignments around design and visual elements of the noir, writing experiments, and a Wikipedia research component I want to build into this site using Wiki Embed. I think I’ll be developing out the site as the course evolves, it is my first time teaching it at UMW as a Freshman seminar—and I’ve found being as loose and flexible as you possibly can with the design of a new class the better. I’m sure it will change, I just hope for the better. Also, I am still getting my head around how I’ll be using Tumblr. I am thinking every week their will be a visual/design challenge, and we will feature those on Tumblr but aggregate them into their blog, or vice versa. We’ll see, ideas are always appreciated.

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