When I first began the readings for this assignment I was immediately intrigued because I now know what a domain is. Prior, to this class, if someone had asked me the meaning of a domain in the context of the internet I would’ve had no idea what they were referring to. With that being said, I am still new to this whole idea of having and owning your own domain so reading more about it is both helpful and interesting.
I chose to read the articles in the order that they appeared on the assignment so I started with the article by Gardner Campbell: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure. In the beginning of the article, Gardner, refers to educational technological learning as a “digital facelift” stating that no real progress has been made and most of the improvements are temporary solutions. I thought that this was an interesting way to describe technological tools used in education. I think that he is right in saying that in education most of the time data is given out but not actual web space. He further discussed the idea of how templates and trainings are good resources for beginning internet users but can become limiting in higher educational settings. I think that he is right in saying this because I felt like this during my undergraduate years. At a certain point the use of new technology seemed to plateau even though there was new things available. Technology is constantly changing and developing further and I think that this should be reflected in the classroom (especially in higher ed).
Next, I watched the video of Gardner Campbell where he revisited this topic a couple of years later. The link can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky5jb_xwGQs&feature=youtu.be In this video Campbell goes on to discuss the importance of creating one’s own domain and how that came be used as an artifact. I thought it was interesting that he used the term artifact because when I hear this word I think of anthropology and history. I would’ve never connected this to this use of the web but I think in many ways this statement is accurate because an artifact is something that is left behind. By creating your own domain you are leaving behind something that reflects your thoughts and biases from that time period. It can then be used to reveal something about how you made meaning in the world. It’s interesting to think that in a hundred years perhaps these will be the artifacts that are being studied. Another idea that Campbell discussed was running servers and how that is the next step up from creating your own online domain. He is a big proponent for this because he thinks that it encourages democracy. He also believes that you can’t use the web to the fullest power until you know how to do this. Campbell made an interesting point in saying that when you run your own server you don’t have to answer to another company or another person. He discussed how many companies actually discuss this form of open discourse. I thought that it was interesting to connect democracy to the internet and I think that what he says is true. I never really thought of the internet as being a big contributor to democracy but I think that is correct because the main purpose of the internet is to access knowledge. Being able to access knowledge can create discussion and debate, which can lead to social change and this is what democracy is all about.
After watching the video I read the last two articles for the assignment both by Audrey Watters. The first one I read was titled The Web We Need to Give Students: https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713 and the second one was titled Why a Domain of One’s Own Matters (For the Future of Knowledge): http://hackeducation.com/2017/04/04/domains. Both articles further discuss the idea of giving students access to their own domain. In the first article, Watters, discusses an experiment conducted at the University of Mary Washington in, which the university did just that. This experiment allowed students to create a domain which they could access and keep after graduation. It gave students the opportunity to show their work and progress publicly. It also gave them independence, which has been show to lead to academic growth and self discovery. This experiment is best summed up in this excerpt: “Fascinating and important innovations would emerge as students are able to shape their own cognition, learning, expression, and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium. Students would frame, curate, share, and direct their own ‘engagement streams’ throughout the learning environment.” The whole idea behind this experiment was to give students more anatomy over their own learning and their online presence. Before learning about technology in school many students have already created a rich online presence. Creating a domain can in turn allow students to utilize this former knowledge. I think that creating your own domain can lead to student creatively as well as personal growth. In the second article, Watters, further discussed this idea and discussed how the web can be used as a scholarly source and it isn’t necessarily about learning how to code. She can be quoted as saying, “It’s about recognizing that students are scholars.” I think that this idea is really important and more educators need to think of their students in this light. The final thing she ended with was a metaphor regarding various forms of media. She discussed Washington State’s Mike Caulfield’s metaphor of how there are streams and there are gardens. The streams are sites like Facebook and Twitter where you have access to links/comments that are absent of meaning. On the other hand the gardens are the domains where ideas are able to develop and grow. The garden is a space that allows you to think before doing. I thought this was a really great way of describing the differences between the two and it is something that I would use to explain the differences to my students.
Overall, I agreed with the readings. I think having your own domain really helps you to have more control over what you create online. Although, I think to have true autonomy you have to go further than just having your own domain. Gardner Campbell discussed this idea further. He discussed the idea of running your own server and how this allows you to run everything over your own computer. I think that this is the difference between having a site (like the one I am writing on now) that is run over someone else’ server versus having a site that is run over your own server. I think that this brings up an interesting point because you never really have full autonomy on the internet unless you are doing it all yourself. This brings up the question of biases and how we are influenced by these third parties that we are using. I think as a teacher it is important to remember this for the classroom setting. Not only are we responsible for teaching students how to properly engage online but we also have to teach them how to critically think in order to avoid these outside influencers. Before taking this class I never really thought about how everything I use on the internet is operated by someone else. I think that this is important to remember because there could be a hidden agenda and I am being unknowingly influenced. This is actually kind of a terrifying thought and its something that I think most people are unaware of. I recently watched an interview on Netflix that David Letterman did with Barack Obama and this idea was brought up as well. In this interview, Obama, discussed how what shows up after you Google something can be different depending on what political party you identify with. I think that this idea is directly related to this class. Some of the things that we are learning can help us try to avoid this predicament. I think this is why a lot of the methods discussed in these articles are being adopted for this class. I believe that these models can help us to better understand the digital world that we live in today.