Exploring Domain of One's Own

Hi there! This past two weeks, I started my individual study. I am going to create an informational video for a program at Mary Washington called Domain of One’s Own. This program is unique where the university provides an opportunity of all students to get their own domain while they are at Mary Wash. With this they can begin to create their own space on the internet.

I’ve been in the research phase of the project, where I’m going to gather as much information as I can about the program. I have to say this project is so interesting. I wrote a  paper about my research up to this point, so I’ll put that down below.

Overall I’m enjoying this project so far! I’m a little overwhelmed but I’ve had great discussions about the project with students who are currently participating, and I have meetings set up to talk about the project with faculty next week.

Here is my paper! Also stick around to see more progress on the project itself as well!

The Internet is such a big piece in everyday life. People use it to search for information, create content that suits their hobbies, create social media platforms to express themselves, and many more. But is there a space that can house all of those pieces together? The answer is yes, through the Domain of One’s Own project. Unique to schools around the country, specifically at Mary Washington as well, this project allows students to really grasp that the Internet is for creating and building. The Domain of One’s Own project allows students to claim their own domain during their time at Mary Washington, and use it as a space to do whatever they’d like with it. They can use it to build out a professional portfolio, or keep a blog, the possibilities are endless. The program is not only used for personal use but is also used in an academic light as well. This paper will reflect the research I’ve completed so far. I examined how unique Domain of One’s Own is, how it fits into the classroom, and how it is a creative outlet for many students.

Currently, there is a major shift in classrooms in towards new media. The article, “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able: Learning in New Media Environments Most” tackles the implications that this new media shift has on learning. Classrooms today use some piece of technology in order to conduct daily class activities. Professors allow computers and tablets in their classes for note taking purposes. But allowing technology in the classroom can hold some negative consequences. With so much information at the students’ finger tips, it’s easy for them to get distracted and take it for granted. The information becomes so easily accessible through a quick Google search. Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr distract students all the time. Information becomes more and more instantaneous, and it becomes less and less important to students. The information is still relevant and it is important. I can really relate to this new form of consumption. I unfortunately fall into that habit, where I tend to think information is not important but it really is. If I’m in a conversation with someone and I don’t know what the person is talking about I pull out my phone or open a new tab in Google and look up the information very quickly. I don’t ask the person I’m talking to about that topic, I default to my device. Students are losing that face to face interaction when learning about a topic. The information becomes more about the message. Classrooms are set up in such a way that students believe that the information is only found in this specific space. But with improvements to the way information is presented, like through the hypertext, students began to see that information is in more than one place at a time.

Another problem arose, how do professor’s assess what the students are learning? Traditional tests take out how students are comprehending the information. Multiple choice tests are just a way for students to memorize the information then spit it back out on the test. They don’t full learn what the material means. This shift towards new media is different. Assessments change to suit those students who want to dive into the information, who want to really absorb that information. Professors assign reflections on readings and participate in discussions in class or online. Domain of One’s Own facilitates that. Students create their own own space then they can use it to facilitate discussion. But this can propose other problems to student participation.

When students write on their own space, they are writing to their own specific audience. That’s where their content begins to have a voice. But another problem with assigning reflections to be written on a student blog is that the voice begins to go away. In the article from Ed Surge News called “Do I Own My Own Domain If You Grade it?” Andrew Rikard looks into assigning blogging as homework and other assignments regarding their own space online. Rikard had some really great points. He writes “The web is a network for conversations, and if students still see their audience as a teacher with a red pen, then nothing changes.” This is very true in my experience. I always enjoy the chance to blog my own thoughts, but most of the time I don’t enjoy it when I’m only writing to satisfy a requirement for a class. I don’t invest myself into the content and it’s harder for me to comprehend it. But there is that rare instance that I enjoy writing about an assignment. That only happens when I think it relates to my audience the most.

Students who are introduced to the Domain of One’s Own program specifically for assignments find it harder to create the space for personal use. In my experience as a tutor, I’ve seen numerous students only come in to satisfy a requirement for class, and students on the opposite end of the spectrum. Those students who are excited for the chance to create their own space on the web are enthusiastic about all of the options they have to create that space. A lot of the tutors I work with were in the rare category where they were assigned the Domain of One’s Own space and they created their own space outside of the classroom. They look at Domain of One’s Own as a place to get away from the box that social media puts you in. Users have complete control over their own domain, and social media puts you in restraints for a consistent look. But through this program students become more confident with their web presence and they find that they create a safe space for their own creation.

Audrey Watter’s writes about this in her article “The Web We Need to Give Students.” The education system focuses on what Watter calls “digital citizenship” or “what students need to know in order to use technology “appropriately.” This can be helpful in social media because that can affect your future, whether  you are applying to a school or a job. But Domain of One’s Own doesn’t fall under that category. Students can create whatever they want on their domain, it doesn’t matter if it’s appropriate or not. And Watter’s advocates for those who want to create whatever they want. She also mentions that Domain of One’s Own is a great resource for students who want to keep their education with them. If a student decides to keep their domain after their time in school they get to keep all of those assignments and projects they created while there.

Domain of One’s Own is a fantastic program that allow students to create their own space online. Students who take advantage of this program starts to move away from being a digital citizen to being digitally fluent. They can create safe spaces, create new audiences, and break away from the boxes that social media can put users in.

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