Opening up the Web for Students and Faculty


Image courtesy of Jim Groom’s website.

Last fall, our neighbors just two and a half hours to the north at the University of Mary Washington launched an eye-opening program for their students, faculty, and staff. It is a service to allow users to register an Internet domain and house it on internal servers, called A Domain of One’s Own. The name is an allusion, it seems, to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, a treatise on the marginalization of women writers in a patriarchal literary tradition. In this case, the focus is on empowering digital citizens to carve out their own spaces on the Web to develop their digital identity, thoughts, and networks outside of the corporatized Internet tradition.

College Students and Digital Literacy

The project falls within larger conversations about digital literacies for college students that I alluded to in my last post. Offering access to server space and a domain opens up the opportunity for the college community to explore using the Web outside of privately designed and controlled programs and applications. Users can develop websites that are either publicly available to the entire Web, or privately to a select group.

The UMW team has done a tremendous amount of work to make A Domain of One’s Own as user-friendly as possible, grounding user navigation within their home WordPress site. Intriguingly, they make the migration of all of the content straightforward and simple: Students and faculty can readily take all of their work with them when they move on from school. The idea behind their work and the detailed documentation of it is to support others’ development of similar projects on their campuses. Maybe we can start to imagine something like this at William & Mary.

The Possibilities of This Kind of Program Are Limitless

The program actively supports curricular explorations by organizing regular faculty meetings to discuss implications and possibilities of incorporating the Web space into coursework and assignments. For instance, websites on the server can be aggregated by a department, course, or faculty member so that associated content can be found and students can share work. But if we understand these domains as entirely blank slates, on to which anything can be drawn, the possibilities are limitless. For more details about recent updates to the platform, check out one of the projects spear-headers, Jim Groom’s, blog.


Image courtesy of the OpenVA website.

The project also resonates with larger conversation about open education that are gaining traction in Virginia. On October 18th the second annual OpenVA meeting was held at Tidewater Community College’s Virginia Beach campus. The sessions focused on three topics: Open infrastructure, open content and resources, and open pedagogy and curriculum. I attended along with Swem’s Arts Librarian, Kathleen Delaurenti. We took lots of notes and pictures, and will be back on the AT Blog shortly with some ideas.

Sorting out Your Dissertation’s Electronic Publishing Options


Not so long ago I defended my doctoral dissertation (hooray!) and readied copies of my manuscript for the College. I had reviewed the requirements the few weeks prior to preparing my manuscript so that I could be ready to turn it in soon after I defended. I went to turn in my copies the morning [...]

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Me and My Google: Why I Can’t Walk Away from This Relationship


Okay, so first off, let me just say I love Google. In fact, part of my anger at Google stems from the fact that Google does so many awesome things. It tells me all the things I want to hear, it brings me flowers or chocolates (well, at least it shows me where I can [...]

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Tips for Managing Laptops in the Classroom

Students looking very attentive to their work in the pre-laptop era.

News flash: Student laptops and phones can be annoying in the college classroom. Old news, right? But still news that instructors have to deal with more and more. We can ban devices, allow them, or figure out something in between — there’s no shortage of advice and policies in managing their use. Over the past [...]

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Is Technology Indistinguishable from Magic? The Dangers of Clarke’s Third Law


In his 1962 book Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke proposed his third and final “law” of  prediction — he felt he had to propose no more laws because “as three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop [...]

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Doing E-Learning the W&M Way

About this time last year, William & Mary was touted as the best school in the nation for undergraduate teaching. Having sent out several E-Learning Development Kits into the wild over the spring and summer, I’ve gotten more than the usual taste of why, and how, our faculty achieved that reputation. This Summer W&M Offered Our [...]

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New Blackboard Features for Fall 2014

Course Menu button circled in red

Our Blackboard downtime on August 15th was a success. In addition to the needed security updates and patches, Blackboard added some two great new features. Student Preview Mode I’m most excited about the new Student Preview mode. In the past W&M professors who wanted to see what their class looked like to students or how [...]

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How to Effectively Use Blogging in Your Course

Title: Blogging Street Cred

If you have read any or all of my previous posts, you may have picked up on the fact that I tend to stray a bit from the typical Academic Technology Blog contribution tactic that many of my colleagues take. Sometimes I still find myself seeking to take the student role here at the College, [...]

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More on Web-Friendly Mapping: Google Maps vs. Google Sheets


In my last post I discussed some of the new features and cool possibilities of Google Maps for the humanities at the College. After writing that post, I’ve been obsessing just a bit on the various Web-friendly ways to present map data to an academic community, and I’ve struck on another interesting option in case Google Maps [...]

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RIP Photo Management Application Aperture, Gone but not Soon Forgotten

One of my six large Aperture Libraries… with over 32,000 images!

One of my favorite articles here at the W&M Academic Technology Blog is Mike Blum’s 2012 post “What Do You Do When Your Favorite Tool Goes Away?“ In that piece Mike dealt with, not altogether tongue-in-cheek, the stages of grieving when one of your favorite applications goes away. Specifically he was referring to the early demise [...]

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