Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a new Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) training on campus alongside John Stewart. This training, WebFest, was centered around building websites and engaging in many of the conversations that surround DoOO. There was a much stronger level of interest than we anticipated and this professional development filled only an hour after being announced….

In a nutshell, WebFest is designed to bring people together with the allure of building a website in 4 days only to engage them further in thinking critically about using the web. We spend time reflecting on web technologies, digital presence, and why we might want to engage students in these topics. If you view the WebFest website, you’ll see that each day’s content is divided into three sections: (1) a description of the day, (2) goals/checklists, and (3) additional resources for those who want dive even deeper. Additionally, each day of WebFest is divided into covering some content immediately followed by free time that allows participants to work on their websites in the presence of a learning community and knowledgable trainers. This design is very similar to the Canvas Camp formula.

One of my favorite WebFest activities occurs in the first few minutes where I simply ask participants “What is the web?” Then I encourage everyone to draw a picture, produce a diagram/flow chart, or organize the web vocabulary they know—whatever they prefer. This activity is followed up on the last day of WebFest when I again ask “What is the Web?” and we compare the results of the first and last days reflections. The first thought offered from this juxtaposition revealed just how much participants’ perspectives had shifted during the week. Over four days, one instructor started viewing the web more positively and one graduate student, feeling empowered, proclaiming that she started thinking of the web as a tool rather than an ambiguous space. Here’s the notes from this wonderful discussion:

Whiteboard showing the following list of words: positive, contribute (insider knowledge easily), meaningful content, personal, creativity (css customize), the web as a tool (instead of space)

If this sounds like fun, I encourage you to review WebFest and take it and use it as the open license allows.

Finally, not only was a pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest in WebFest, but I was also blown away by some of the feedback we received in our evaluations for this training:

Q1: What was the most valuable/useful aspect of this session?

Overall, the whole course was very useful for me since I had no prior knowledge of  website building and operation at all. 

learning how to build a web page and being able to maintain it (on my own).

I learned many new things about OU Create, in particular WordPress application. I also got to design a new course website from scratch.

Q2: Do you have any suggestions for how we can improve this session in the future?

Nothing, all good! as an aside: the size of the class was great

Graduate students may gain tremendously from these workshops. Target them in one workshop or two, if you wish, and see how they respond.

extend it another day.

Always have 2 people because one may be the trainer but there are so many questions, it helps to have more than just the instructor to help with the troubleshooting and questions.

I hope we can have a one day mini sessions every 6 weeks to upkeep our learning and also bring our projects and work on them with the instructors.

Q3: Share any additional comments:

I joined the course thinking mainly as a consumer of the web– I finished the course thinking as a designer and a contributor!

Keegan and John were exceptional– I learnt so much this week! Keegan took us behind the scene and gave more information that I anticipated. This short course was beyond my expectations! It was also fun to be a student again and learn things from others! Thanks so much!

Thank you again for teaching this class and providing the opportunity for us to start our own websites.

At this point I’m already looking forward to the next round of WebFest and am equally excited about prospective trainings that are already in development! 😉

The featured image is provided CC0 by Melissa Askew via Unsplash.

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