UMW Blogs is quite simply a web-based publishing platform for the Mary Washington academic community. The distinction between a blog and a more loosely defined publishing platform is actually important because while some people on UMW Blogs use it for what is commonly thought of as blogging, many more use it for a wide range of purposes that often don’t quite match the dominant logic of a blog (see here for a number of examples). So to call it a series of blogs in many ways doesn’t capture the more complex reality, it’s more akin to a dynamic, open online publishing space for students, staff, and faculty alike.
The official birth date of UMW Blogs is August 27th, 2007, but unlike Athena it didn’t just jump from the head of Zeus one day. It came out of numerous iteration cycles with a variety of free and open source applications. It was born out of a culture of experimentation at UMW more generally, and the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT) specifically
The driving logic behind UMW Blogs is to imagine what takes place on the wide open web as part and parcel of the classroom at the university. It is our belief that exploring this avenue more fully, the experience in the classroom can only be augmented by the networked approach of thinking and sharing openly on the web. The move towards openness with networked tools at UMW is not so much premised on a pre-determined ideological impetus, but a push for developing the best framework for sharing resources and publishing easily on the web for an entire intellectual community. In many ways openness comes as a serendipitous extension of such a framework, illustrating the point that the architecture of most Course Management Systems (and university websites more generally) are built upon a vision of controlling an image and locking down ideas rather than sharing and opening them up to the world at large. Openness is as much a function of design as it is of any set of beliefs.