UWGB | Domain of One’s Own

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Here’s why DoOO Matters: Reclaim your Digital Identity

UWGB’S Pilot project for DoOO is facilitated by Jim Groom’s and Tim Owens’ Reclaim Hosting, and is another example of how the University of Mary Washington and Emory University are innovative giants in the digital scholarship world. This pilot is running in Chuck Rybak’s English 331: Experimental Novels class.

I love this project so much because it’s exactly what I would have wanted as a student, and have used for my own personal gain to show students how to make a portfolio project, use badges in courses, and install Omeka, and WordPress. So, I am entirely biased, but I know that students are learning so much more than they would if they read a book, wrote a paper, wash, rinse, repeat. Not that those skills are not valuable, but this project allows students to use their domain to talk about the different technologies for interpreting texts (blogging, Simile Timelines, Gephi, podcasting, QR Codes, and live tweeting class discussion), while at the same time using visuals to engage a public audience.

To get students familiar with a domain of their own I think it is valuable to have this project run as a pilot in a classroom setting where students can dedicate a subdomain to their course work–seen here with Sarah Miles’ WordPress site.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Provide documentation for how to secure their domain, and how to set up a sub-domain for class.
  2. Write up some directions for the Akismet Plugin so that the students wouldn’t get spammed.
  3. Asked the students to complete these steps.
  4. Wait for problems–because there were some–though not as many as I was expecting. The support from Reclaim Hosting (ie. Tim Owens) was nothing short of amazing.
  5. This prepped the students for earning a WordPress Badge on a volunteer basis. We created the badge, baked it, and then had the students set up a Mozilla Backpack so that they have a way to talk about their skills when this pilot is over. Because–gosh the skills! These students might not realize it yet, but they have such an amazing opportunity to do great things, market themselves in a way that isn’t afforded to other students, and gain some insight in how to fail gracefully if their projects don’t work the way they were expecting.
  6. In order to get this pilot off the ground, ideally–I will ask the students to also download the Jetpack Plugin so that we have some data about how public their work is, if they are using their domain in a way that can best reflect what they’re learning in class, and if this project is worthwhile based on how students/faculty/staff are utilizing their domain. It is worthwhile–I’m positive and will blind everyone with all of my data (in the nicest way possible).

There is so much red tape in the way of showcasing student work that doesn’t disadvantage a student’s intellectual property, and this project is a way to solve those problems. If students are in control of their digital identity it forces them to learn more about how they’re presenting themselves to the public, as well as how they’re talking about their academic endeavors. Alternative assignments are provided, if necessary, but there hasn’t been a need, thus far. The students have been brilliant, and brave. See! I knew you’d understand.

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