Domain of One’s Own
A short post today, because we are doing some work on the site and I only have a small window in which to get this up. Luckily, I have been studying something recently which I think deserves a bit of recognition, or at the very least some conversation. That something is the Domain of One’s Own movement, that started up at the University of Mary Washington and has spread to other universities. Predicated on the belief that learners benefit from intentional ownership over their online presence, which they can be encouraged to use as a platform for engaging with, and contributing to, the various fields in which they are involved, universities are giving students their own websites as an integral aspect of their student package. Students can then manage their using standard web technologies, like WordPress (or, if they really wanted the complexity and the headache, Drupal), which could be deployed as a portfolio, a professional blog, a space for collecting research, or more.
A Domain of One’s Own interests me because I share the belief that students benefit from this intentional, guided, but ultimately autonomous relationship with the web, that encourages them to be creators and contributors rather than simply passive spectators. However, I’m also an administrator of learning technology, and I know that opportunity is rarely unaccompanied by complexity, confusion, and mistakes. The overhead deserves respect, but the upside deserves just as much optimism. I think we should all be watching this trend to see where it goes; I certainly am.
The Domain of One’s Own movement isn’t new, but what is new is how it is now spreading to other universities. Which isn’t to say the experiment has been successful; rather, it appears to have fragmented into many similar experiments at once. Different universities are deploying the idea in different ways, and some are putting more emphasis on designing coursework around this new resource than others. It will be interesting to see what works and what doesn’t. In the meantime, I’m curious to hear what you think. What are the upsides of giving students their own domains? What are the downsides? And how do we navigate those to give our learners as much agency in their fields, each of them more and more present online, as we possibly can?