Piloting Whittier.Domains

As of the end of August, 2015, DigLibArts is now offering self-hosting to our students, faculty, and campus academic organizations through Jim Groom and Tim Owen’s amazing Reclaim Hosting service. We are piloting the project Fall 2015 and hope to roll it out either Spring 2016 or Fall 2016 to the wider campus community.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 2.00.15 PM
Whittier Domains front page

For Fall 2015 only DigLibArts’ Steering Committee members have been offered their own domains, with the proviso that they do as much as possible with their installs to help us discover where the kinks might be, where we will run into management questions, etc. I’ve been having a lot of fun migrating my own site from wordpress.com and exploring the many other CMS’s I can use via my C-Panel.

Anne Cong-Huyen is managing the Domain project, and it has gone very well so far, despite the inevitable hiccups. Our campus single sign-on is not completing the full handshake with Domain yet, which has caused a lot of administrative work for Anne. For each new domain, currently Anne has to enter all the user data by hand. This will clearly need to be resolved before we can offer the service on a wider basis across campus.

We also are discovering a number of questions about where content should live:

  1. Should student clubs be allowed to launch their own domains, or should they be housed in the student life system OrgSync, which enables some web presence and builds in smooth transfers of leadership, but does not provide the same data privacy?
  2. What about student media, including the campus newspaper, Youtube channels, radio, yearbook, etc?
  3. What about academic staff members? Is there any reason not to offer them the same freedom that faculty and students would enjoy via self-hosted domains? Who should pay for domain space, and how should the institution fund this on an ongoing basis?
  4. Should DigLibArts’s web presence itself reside on our Domain service, or should our central hub pages remain part of the campus website and servers?
  5. Should academic departments be able to have their own domains (in addition to their pages on the university site)? What about departmental student honor societies? Or should those entities be hosted by the campus-wide servers?

Many of these questions have been addressed by other campuses that are a year or more into their Domain hosting experiences. David Morgan at Emory University has been enormously helpful as we began imagining how to implement our own DoOO installation, and we regularly consult his helpful documentation. Adam Croom at University of Oaklahoma has shared lots of resources on his blog and their hub pages. The good folks at CSU Channel Islands have a lovely interface and resources. Jim and Tim themselves have spent endless hours patiently answering emails and trying to sort out our various IT glitches during the initial launch.

I would absolutely love to talk with others who have launched or are about to launch their own DoOO projects about the nuts-and-bolts implementation decisions we face, as well as about the larger implications for academic freedom, university branding, and data privacy.

What do you think? Could the DoOO campuses unite for some conversations?

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