Are Our Domains Really “Ours”?

CCBY Mervi Eskelinen

What a time to be alive. The Information Age. A time that gives anyone the tools to research anything they want; to create and publicly share their ideas. Information on any topic at the tip of our fingers and accessible by one click of a mouse. The technological advances made by society has greatly impacted the amount and caliber of work that people can do; especially when those people are students. It has allowed for students to gain a deeper understanding of the topics they are learning about or are interested in. Technology has paved the way for students to become the greatest scholars the world has seen. To become the greatest researchers, thinkers, and learners they can be. Because of these assets, technology has and will continue to be an extremely relevant tool.

I find this topic to be extraordinarily important because I have been immersed in a world where technology is continuing to advance every day and I have been shown the usefulness and influence that technology has. As a neurobiology student, I can go online and within 2 minutes, have hundreds of journal entries from researchers who have done experiments on fluoxetine’s effects on invertebrates. As a psychology student, I can find as many papers written on schizophrenia, as there are people in the United States. As an anthropology student, I can find any, and all, information on the cholera epidemic in Peru. These are just a few examples of how I personally see and understand the immense benefits of technology.

I am an Interdisciplinary Studies major, meaning that I am majoring in multiple areas of study, or disciplines. Technology has proven itself useful to me yet again, in the form of this ePortfolio. I can use this platform to share my thoughts and ideas on a range of topics and completely personalize it to best represent myself.

CC BY-ND Brian Evans

The ideas presented in the article “The Web We Need to Give Students”, by Audrey Watters, dives into the ideas of student privacy and what it actually means to give students their own domain. Watters comments on how, “Having one’s own domain means that students have much more say over what they present to the world, in terms of their public profiles, professional portfolios, and digital identities.” To me, this emphasizes the importance of students having a place that is completely theirs. Because It is a public place that students are sharing their thoughts, content should come completely from the student. I believe that the best way to ensure the content being posted to personal domains is safe and protected is to educate students on the implications their publications can have and give them opportunities to develop something that is completely their own, something they can be proud of.

Gardner Campbell reiterates the importance of personal domains and why they are vital for a student’s online presence, in the article “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure”.  “Pointing students to data buckets and conduits we’ve already made for them won’t do. Templates and training wheels may be necessary for a while, but by the time students get to college, those aids all too regularly turn into hindrances.” This quote promotes some serious thought. How can students completely personalize and take control of their domain if they are only given the basic, cookie cutter options for personalization. At that point can we really say personalization? Can we truthfully say that a student owns their domain? No. At best, it can be said its sort of personalized or that it’s partially the student’s domain.


CC BY-NC Michael Fisher

Andrew Rickard explains this idea of partial ownership in his article “Do I Own My Domain if You Grade It?”. He delves into the issue of student’s domains becoming an extension of basic classroom assignments and what affect that has on a student’s ownership. “Giving a student ownership over data means nothing if it doesn’t allow them to determine that data”. While reading this article, I thought about the idea of a student domain only containing the topics and ideas relevant to the class they are taking at that time, or those deemed important by the student’s professor. Sure. We can argue that even so, the student is still the creator, and therefore, owner of the content being published. However, If the content does not reflect the personal ideologies of the student, and really get down to the nitty-gritty of who they are, then I don’t believe that we can really get a handle of who that person is. The point of publishing the work also shifts from being an inspiring excerpt from the student’s mind, to something that will please the professor so that the student can receive a good grade. It doesn’t give complete and total creative freedom to the student and therefore their ownership of their domain is compromised, or better yet, shared with their professor.

CC BY caligula1995

Overall, these articles showed me what it really means to have complete ownership and the importance of constructing a domain that is totally yours. This will benefit me as I construct my major over the course of this semester. I now understand, the untapped freedom I have been given in the technological world and how to use it for my personal development. Knowing that I am in complete control of my educational well-being and future is a breath-taking feeling.

Do you think that ownership is as important as I do? Should professors be able to dictate a student’s grade based on what the student chooses to post to their personal domain? Leave a comment so we can continue this discussion!

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed yourself!

2 Replies to “Are Our Domains Really “Ours”?”

  1. You are totally right! It’s definitely a great time to be alive in this day and age! With so much information accessible at our fingertips, we are so easily influenced, which as you said, makes it near impossible to personalize a domain to our actual identity. With that point in mind, I believe that ownership is important and valuable to every individual. It gives a certain sense of “I did that” or “I accomplished that” or “I made that”. Influences from outside factors make it difficult to create something new and be able to truly call it yours. On the other hand, with so much information, an individual can go online and get ideas for what they want to try and create. It’s a complex world out there, but it’s also a world looking for individuality. Great post, I look forward to reading some more of your work!

  2. I really can’t imagine ever being more excited to work with you than I am right now after reading this wonderful opening post, Mac! A great job synthesizing the three pieces together, and raising questions and ideas about the relationships among technology, student agency, and your own educational journey.

    The ePort looks great, and I think it’s going to develop into a site full of fascinating projects and ideas…so excited for this Spring!

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