It’s been five years since we launched Malartu. Our goal has always been to help professors and teachers in higher education to connect with each other. We’ve attempted to provide an environment where they can explore new pedagogies and technologies. In short, we’ve attempted  to facilitate an Open Education Commons.

In the beginning, we weren’t sure how to do this. In practical terms, Malartu.org website and server was a combination:

  • laboratory where Jim Luke (a.k.a Econproph) could experiment with new pedagogical & edtech ideas. We created a simple WordPress Multi-site installation and offered professors websites.
  • a laboratory and webhosting where a small number of other professors could also experiment with open ed technologies and pedagogies.

We’ve learned a lot in five years. One thing we’ve learned is that we’ve outgrown the original technical structure we started with 5 years ago. We need to do some updating/restructuring so we offer some new services.  So the whole site and server is undergoing re-construction this fall.

Here’s what’s coming.  In the meantime, if you’ve got any need, interest, or questions, please contact Jim Luke at jol@malartu.org.

What’s coming:

  • Focus on CC’s and small institutions – Larger universities increasingly provide the resources, professional development, and technology to support OER, open pedagogy, and open technologies. Community colleges and small institutions, however, are squeezed. They are where Malartu can provide the most help. We’ll still work with anybody in the non-profit higher education world, but we’re focusing our efforts on CC’s and small institutions.

  • CC2020 “Re-opening the Community College” – We will soon be issuing a call for papers/contributions for the CC 2020 project.The goal of CC2020 is to publish a book written by community college faculty and staff that lays out a vision of how “open”, OER, open pedagogies, and open leadership can revitalize the CC mission. The target audience for the book/sites will be CC leadership, faculty, boards, and staff.

  • Malartu Books – We are creating a Pressbooks EDU installation. This will allow professors to publish their own OER books. It will also professors to easily clone and then revise/remix OER books from other Pressbooks EDU installations and universities.

    The build-out of our Pressbooks and publishing infrastructure is proceeding. But we have our first open books online.  Check them out at:

  • “Domains of One’s Own” (DoOO) structure – We can now go beyond just providing basic WordPress sites to professors. With help from ReclaimHosting, Malartu now can offer cPanel shared hosting accounts to professors. THIS CHANGE WILL AFFECT ALL EXISTING WEBSITE ACCOUNTS. See below for what you need to know and choices you may need to make. We can now make available to individual professors at small schools the same “Domains of One’s Own” architecture that large universities like Mary Washington, Univ of Oklahoma, VCU, and Georgetown use.

  • SPLOTS! – SPLOTS are easy-to-install WordPress sites pre-designed for teaching situations where students can easily complete a form to post content to a class/topic hub without any of the start-up learning curve for the WP backend.

  • New Collaborative Tools – Besides basic WordPress, we can now offer multiple different tools for enabling discussion groups, professional development conversations, and collaboration. Among the new tools are WordPress + Distributor (a syndication tool that replaces the old FeedWordPress plugin), BuddyPress (a WP-based social media network), Commons-In-A-Box, and MatterMost (a self-hosted clone of Slack).

What’s not changing?

We will continue for the foreseeable future to offer free accounts. Our free accounts and sites are intended primarily for adjuncts who often cannot afford the modest amounts needed to pay for web hosting when their school won’t provide it. We don’t judge though, and it’s up to users. All support is welcome, both cash contributions and in-kind. Contributions of as little as $40 per year USD will pay for a single user account.