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Building Community Online

Array ( [post_title] => Building Community Online [post_content] => Moss Spore Capsules

As an Online Learning & LMS Specialist, one of the chief concerns faculty bring to me isn’t about the technology — it’s about building community. The culture or atmosphere we create in our courses can drastically change the level of engagement and the depth of learning. We know that it’s something students want from their online courses, too. But how do we build community when when class takes place asynchronously on a screen, rather than together in a classroom? And, conversely, how can we use technology to enhance the community the students experience in the traditional classroom?

As more courses are offered in online and hybrid formats, instructors will need to rethink how they build community and foster interaction in their courses. Communication in a learning management system, on Twitter, or via a blog is different than the type of interaction we’re used to facilitating face-to-face in a classroom.

To tackle this question, we decided to kick off the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies’ #DoOO series of panel discussions by talking about the ways our faculty and students have fostered community and interaction using a variety of digital tools in their courses.

  

Panelists included:

Martha Burtis – Director, Digital Knowledge Center (@mburtis)
Jeanine Davis – Assistant Professor, Education (@janinesdavis)
Claudine Ferrell – Professor, History
Nora Forknall – Senior, Biology and German major, Chemistry minor, and DKC Tutor (@agent_forknall)
Parrish Waters – Assistant Professor, Biology
Zach Whalen – Associate Professor, English (@zachwhalen)
Lee Skallerup-Bessette (Moderator) – Instructional Technology Specialist – DTLT

The panelists covered a lot of ground, describing a wide variety of approaches and tools they’ve used to foster community including Canvas, BluePulse, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Slack. Whether on the password-protected pages of Canvas or Slack, or publicly on Twitter or in a blog, the panelists generally had success, but found that the medium influenced how that community took shape.

One of my favorite points from the discussion was made by Zach Whalen, who reminded us that “silliness can help build community.” Of course, we want students to achieve the learning objectives and complete assignments, but community is more than a group of people independently performing the same tasks. Even in a single classroom, community is complex and multifaceted. A student asks a thought-provoking question. The professor gets sidetracked. The fire alarm goes off. When we move our courses online, we should think about the ways we can foster these shared interactions.

Especially in the early days of the semester, modeling your expectations is one way to encourage quality participation. Martha Burtis explained the motto used by DS106 instructors: “We eat our own dog food.” By this, she means that instructors completed the assignments alongside students to model what they were looking for and to engage with the students in class discussions. Modeling doesn’t just help set expectations, it also helps students feel connected to their instructor, which can increase students’ willingness to participate and improve student learning.

Student agency was also a topic the panel circled around — both in how and when students interact with one another, and how the instructor interacts in these moments. When students have a hand in shaping the conversations while the instructor remains attentive and receptive, allows for greater student ownership over their learning. This not only helps foster community, but also student engagement more generally. The students take pride in what they build.

The panel was wide-ranging in their discussion — far more than I can cover here. Join in the discussion in the comments or on Twitter through #DoOO.



[Photo “Moss Spores” byBenjamin Balázs licensed CC0 1.0]

 

[post_excerpt] => Moss Spore CapsulesAs an Online Learning & LMS Specialist, one of the chief concerns faculty bring to me isn’t about the technology — it’s about building community. The culture or atmosphere we create in our courses can drastically change the level of engagement and the depth of learning. 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As an Online Learning & LMS Specialist, one of the chief concerns faculty bring to me isn’t about the technology — it’s about building community. The culture or atmosphere we create in our courses can drastically change the level of engagement and the depth of learning. We know that it’s something students want from their online courses, too. But how do we build community when when class takes place asynchronously on a screen, rather than together in a classroom? And, conversely, how can we use technology to enhance the community the students experience in the traditional classroom?

As more courses are offered in online and hybrid formats, instructors will need to rethink how they build community and foster interaction in their courses. Communication in a learning management system, on Twitter, or via a blog is different than the type of interaction we’re used to facilitating face-to-face in a classroom.

To tackle this question, we decided to kick off the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies’ #DoOO series of panel discussions by talking about the ways our faculty and students have fostered community and interaction using a variety of digital tools in their courses.

  

Panelists included:

Martha Burtis – Director, Digital Knowledge Center (@mburtis)
Jeanine Davis – Assistant Professor, Education (@janinesdavis)
Claudine Ferrell – Professor, History
Nora Forknall – Senior, Biology and German major, Chemistry minor, and DKC Tutor (@agent_forknall)
Parrish Waters – Assistant Professor, Biology
Zach Whalen – Associate Professor, English (@zachwhalen)
Lee Skallerup-Bessette (Moderator) – Instructional Technology Specialist – DTLT

The panelists covered a lot of ground, describing a wide variety of approaches and tools they’ve used to foster community including Canvas, BluePulse, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Slack. Whether on the password-protected pages of Canvas or Slack, or publicly on Twitter or in a blog, the panelists generally had success, but found that the medium influenced how that community took shape.

One of my favorite points from the discussion was made by Zach Whalen, who reminded us that “silliness can help build community.” Of course, we want students to achieve the learning objectives and complete assignments, but community is more than a group of people independently performing the same tasks. Even in a single classroom, community is complex and multifaceted. A student asks a thought-provoking question. The professor gets sidetracked. The fire alarm goes off. When we move our courses online, we should think about the ways we can foster these shared interactions.

Especially in the early days of the semester, modeling your expectations is one way to encourage quality participation. Martha Burtis explained the motto used by DS106 instructors: “We eat our own dog food.” By this, she means that instructors completed the assignments alongside students to model what they were looking for and to engage with the students in class discussions. Modeling doesn’t just help set expectations, it also helps students feel connected to their instructor, which can increase students’ willingness to participate and improve student learning.

Student agency was also a topic the panel circled around — both in how and when students interact with one another, and how the instructor interacts in these moments. When students have a hand in shaping the conversations while the instructor remains attentive and receptive, allows for greater student ownership over their learning. This not only helps foster community, but also student engagement more generally. The students take pride in what they build.

The panel was wide-ranging in their discussion — far more than I can cover here. Join in the discussion in the comments or on Twitter through #DoOO.



[Photo “Moss Spores” byBenjamin Balázs licensed CC0 1.0]

 

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Decide filter: Returning post, everything seems orderly :Building Community Online

Array ( [post_title] => Building Community Online [post_content] =>

As an Online Learning & LMS Specialist, one of the chief concerns faculty bring to me isn’t about the technology — it’s about building community. The culture or atmosphere we create in our courses can drastically change the level of engagement and the depth of learning. We know that it’s something students want from their online courses, too. But how do we build community when when class takes place asynchronously on a screen, rather than together in a classroom? And, conversely, how can we use technology to enhance the community the students experience in the traditional classroom?

As more courses are offered in online and hybrid formats, instructors will need to rethink how they build community and foster interaction in their courses. Communication in a learning management system, on Twitter, or via a blog is different than the type of interaction we’re used to facilitating face-to-face in a classroom.

To tackle this question, we decided to kick off the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies’ #DoOO series of panel discussions by talking about the ways our faculty and students have fostered community and interaction using a variety of digital tools in their courses.

  

Panelists included:

Martha Burtis – Director, Digital Knowledge Center (@mburtis)
Jeanine Davis – Assistant Professor, Education (@janinesdavis)
Claudine Ferrell – Professor, History
Nora Forknall – Senior, Biology and German major, Chemistry minor, and DKC Tutor (@agent_forknall)
Parrish Waters – Assistant Professor, Biology
Zach Whalen – Associate Professor, English (@zachwhalen)
Lee Skallerup-Bessette (Moderator) – Instructional Technology Specialist – DTLT

The panelists covered a lot of ground, describing a wide variety of approaches and tools they’ve used to foster community including Canvas, BluePulse, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Slack. Whether on the password-protected pages of Canvas or Slack, or publicly on Twitter or in a blog, the panelists generally had success, but found that the medium influenced how that community took shape.

One of my favorite points from the discussion was made by Zach Whalen, who reminded us that “silliness can help build community.” Of course, we want students to achieve the learning objectives and complete assignments, but community is more than a group of people independently performing the same tasks. Even in a single classroom, community is complex and multifaceted. A student asks a thought-provoking question. The professor gets sidetracked. The fire alarm goes off. When we move our courses online, we should think about the ways we can foster these shared interactions.

Especially in the early days of the semester, modeling your expectations is one way to encourage quality participation. Martha Burtis explained the motto used by DS106 instructors: “We eat our own dog food.” By this, she means that instructors completed the assignments alongside students to model what they were looking for and to engage with the students in class discussions. Modeling doesn’t just help set expectations, it also helps students feel connected to their instructor, which can increase students’ willingness to participate and improve student learning.

Student agency was also a topic the panel circled around — both in how and when students interact with one another, and how the instructor interacts in these moments. When students have a hand in shaping the conversations while the instructor remains attentive and receptive, allows for greater student ownership over their learning. This not only helps foster community, but also student engagement more generally. The students take pride in what they build.

The panel was wide-ranging in their discussion — far more than I can cover here. Join in the discussion in the comments or on Twitter through #DoOO.



[Photo “Moss Spores” byBenjamin Balázs licensed CC0 1.0]

 

[post_excerpt] => As an Online Learning & LMS Specialist, one of the chief concerns faculty bring to me isn’t about the technology — it’s about building community. The culture or atmosphere we create in our courses can drastically change the level of engagement and the depth of learning. 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Most Common Blog Post Types for Students

Array ( [post_title] => Most Common Blog Post Types for Students [post_content] => flower sprout

Tre growing gif

Spring Wave by Frédéric Vayssouze-Faure
wavegrower.tumblr.com

My colleague, Lee, will soon be offering a workshop on teaching with blogs, and it caused me to reflect on my own experience as a student learning with and through blogs and blogging.

As a student there were a bunch of different kinds of blog posts I was assigned, each serving different purposes, and each having different tones. I reflected, summarized, analyzed, explained, and showcased in blog posts. Most of the time I would have an assignment or a prompt for a blog post, and that would be the driving force in what I was writing about. This model worked well for composing blog posts that became part of a larger conversation, analyzed a reading, or had to formally reflect upon something. However, there were times that my blogging wasn’t as regulated or prompted by assignments.

In a few courses blogging was necessary, but not bound by strict guidelines. I enjoyed that model for blogging since the basic structure of what I should blog about was there, but the requirements of the blog posts themselves were not very stringent. This left me some room to be creative and to develop my own voice for blogging. I also liked when I could use images, gifs, or videos in blog posts. I wasn’t always told I couldn’t use media in posts, but until I understood what was expected of me, I tended to not use media unless it was required. However, adding media to blog posts made writing them less tedious since then I could support my thoughts in another way besides writing.

Below are some of the different kinds of blog posts I composed over my junior and senior years at UMW.

Analytical post

Short Blog Posts About an Assignment

A Longer Reflection/Defense Post

The Outlier: Tutorial Blog Post

I share these because as you think about using blogs and assigning blogging in your class, you want to always be thinking of your students and how they conceive and interpret the assignment, not to mention, thrive in doing them.

[post_excerpt] => flower sproutMy colleague, Lee, will soon be offering a workshop on teaching with blogs, and it caused me to reflect on my own experience as a student learning with and through blogs and blogging. As a student there were a bunch of different kinds of blog posts I was assigned, each serving different purposes, and each having […] [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-22 17:57:33 [post_date] => 2016-02-22 13:57:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-22 17:57:33 [post_modified] => 2016-02-22 13:57:33 [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [guid] => http://umwdtlt.com/?p=263 [meta] => Array ( [enclosure] => Array ( [0] => ) [syndication_source] => inspire – UMW DTLT [syndication_source_uri] => http://umwdtlt.com [syndication_source_id] => http://umwdtlt.com/tag/inspire/feed [rss:comments] => http://umwdtlt.com/most-common-blog-post-types-for-students/#respond [wfw:commentRSS] => http://umwdtlt.com/most-common-blog-post-types-for-students/feed/ [syndication_feed] => http://umwdtlt.com/tag/inspire/feed [syndication_feed_id] => 14 [syndication_permalink] => http://umwdtlt.com/most-common-blog-post-types-for-students/ [syndication_item_hash] => Array ( [0] => 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Replacing images : flower sprout - flower sprout ON flower sprout

Tre growing gif

Spring Wave by Frédéric Vayssouze-Faure
wavegrower.tumblr.com

My colleague, Lee, will soon be offering a workshop on teaching with blogs, and it caused me to reflect on my own experience as a student learning with and through blogs and blogging.

As a student there were a bunch of different kinds of blog posts I was assigned, each serving different purposes, and each having different tones. I reflected, summarized, analyzed, explained, and showcased in blog posts. Most of the time I would have an assignment or a prompt for a blog post, and that would be the driving force in what I was writing about. This model worked well for composing blog posts that became part of a larger conversation, analyzed a reading, or had to formally reflect upon something. However, there were times that my blogging wasn’t as regulated or prompted by assignments.

In a few courses blogging was necessary, but not bound by strict guidelines. I enjoyed that model for blogging since the basic structure of what I should blog about was there, but the requirements of the blog posts themselves were not very stringent. This left me some room to be creative and to develop my own voice for blogging. I also liked when I could use images, gifs, or videos in blog posts. I wasn’t always told I couldn’t use media in posts, but until I understood what was expected of me, I tended to not use media unless it was required. However, adding media to blog posts made writing them less tedious since then I could support my thoughts in another way besides writing.

Below are some of the different kinds of blog posts I composed over my junior and senior years at UMW.

Analytical post

Short Blog Posts About an Assignment

A Longer Reflection/Defense Post

The Outlier: Tutorial Blog Post

I share these because as you think about using blogs and assigning blogging in your class, you want to always be thinking of your students and how they conceive and interpret the assignment, not to mention, thrive in doing them.

Local save:http://i1.wp.com/umwdtlt.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/growing-tree.gif?resize=540%2C540

Image process :: Saving local image

grab remote location : http://i1.wp.com/umwdtlt.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/growing-tree.gif?resize=540%2C540

Image exists, checking for same file size

Replacing images : Tre growing gif - Tre growing gif ON Most Common Blog Post Types for Students

Tre growing gif

Spring Wave by Frédéric Vayssouze-Faure
wavegrower.tumblr.com

My colleague, Lee, will soon be offering a workshop on teaching with blogs, and it caused me to reflect on my own experience as a student learning with and through blogs and blogging.

As a student there were a bunch of different kinds of blog posts I was assigned, each serving different purposes, and each having different tones. I reflected, summarized, analyzed, explained, and showcased in blog posts. Most of the time I would have an assignment or a prompt for a blog post, and that would be the driving force in what I was writing about. This model worked well for composing blog posts that became part of a larger conversation, analyzed a reading, or had to formally reflect upon something. However, there were times that my blogging wasn’t as regulated or prompted by assignments.

In a few courses blogging was necessary, but not bound by strict guidelines. I enjoyed that model for blogging since the basic structure of what I should blog about was there, but the requirements of the blog posts themselves were not very stringent. This left me some room to be creative and to develop my own voice for blogging. I also liked when I could use images, gifs, or videos in blog posts. I wasn’t always told I couldn’t use media in posts, but until I understood what was expected of me, I tended to not use media unless it was required. However, adding media to blog posts made writing them less tedious since then I could support my thoughts in another way besides writing.

Below are some of the different kinds of blog posts I composed over my junior and senior years at UMW.

Analytical post

Short Blog Posts About an Assignment

A Longer Reflection/Defense Post

The Outlier: Tutorial Blog Post

I share these because as you think about using blogs and assigning blogging in your class, you want to always be thinking of your students and how they conceive and interpret the assignment, not to mention, thrive in doing them.

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Decide filter: Returning post, everything seems orderly :Most Common Blog Post Types for Students

Array ( [post_title] => Most Common Blog Post Types for Students [post_content] =>

Most Common Blog Post Types for Students

Spring Wave by Frédéric Vayssouze-Faure
wavegrower.tumblr.com

My colleague, Lee, will soon be offering a workshop on teaching with blogs, and it caused me to reflect on my own experience as a student learning with and through blogs and blogging.

As a student there were a bunch of different kinds of blog posts I was assigned, each serving different purposes, and each having different tones. I reflected, summarized, analyzed, explained, and showcased in blog posts. Most of the time I would have an assignment or a prompt for a blog post, and that would be the driving force in what I was writing about. This model worked well for composing blog posts that became part of a larger conversation, analyzed a reading, or had to formally reflect upon something. However, there were times that my blogging wasn’t as regulated or prompted by assignments.

In a few courses blogging was necessary, but not bound by strict guidelines. I enjoyed that model for blogging since the basic structure of what I should blog about was there, but the requirements of the blog posts themselves were not very stringent. This left me some room to be creative and to develop my own voice for blogging. I also liked when I could use images, gifs, or videos in blog posts. I wasn’t always told I couldn’t use media in posts, but until I understood what was expected of me, I tended to not use media unless it was required. However, adding media to blog posts made writing them less tedious since then I could support my thoughts in another way besides writing.

Below are some of the different kinds of blog posts I composed over my junior and senior years at UMW.

Analytical post

Short Blog Posts About an Assignment

A Longer Reflection/Defense Post

The Outlier: Tutorial Blog Post

I share these because as you think about using blogs and assigning blogging in your class, you want to always be thinking of your students and how they conceive and interpret the assignment, not to mention, thrive in doing them.

[post_excerpt] => My colleague, Lee, will soon be offering a workshop on teaching with blogs, and it caused me to reflect on my own experience as a student learning with and through blogs and blogging. 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FAF deciding on filters on post to be syndicated:

Claiming a Domain of My Own: Choosing a Name

Array ( [post_title] => Claiming a Domain of My Own: Choosing a Name [post_content] => DSC01397

Over the next couple weeks, Lee Skallerup Bessette, new Instructional Technology Specialist at the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, will be blogging her way through the process she is taking while setting up her own website through Domain of One’s Own.

Most people are surprised that I don’t have my own personal website. I have a robust web presence through Twitter and my blog at InsideHigherEd.com, as well as my writing for platforms such as Hybrid Pedagogy, Keep Learning, and ProfHacker (according to Contently, 250k words for 17 different publications!). Because of this, I’ve never really felt the need (or found the time) to create my own website with my own domain name.

Now that I am at University of Mary Washington working at DTLT, it’s the perfect opportunity to do just that, while at the same time, learning about Domain of One’s Own. Audrey Watters, in her book Claim Your Domain – And Your Online Presence, makes some compelling arguments around why I should, and really anyone in education fields, as well as our students, should reclaim our space on the web. This particular idea from her book resonated deeply with me:

Life bits is a better term than data to describe all that we’re creating now thanks to new technologies … The term life bits might help us to recognize that all this data we’re creating — intentionally and unintentionally — are pieces of our lives.

My online presence is literally scattered across the web, some of it behind paywalls. I’ve been doing content on the web since 1996 when I moved our undergraduate program’s student newspaper online and started writing for my friend’s webzine. Neither of the sites / spaces exist anymore; one lived on a long-dead university server while the other disappeared from the web when we forgot to renew our domain and hosting service. I often fear that this will happen to me again, or at least to my content, that I’ll lose those bits of myself I have left all over the web.

The first question I need to address is: what to call my domain? What is my space on the Internet going to be called? It’s not as simple a question as it seems because so much of my digital identity is tied to a very specific moment for me on the web: 2010, when I launched my blog and Twitter account associated with my (failed) online business. This is when “readywriting” was born, and it became my primary digital identity and identifier, purposefully working to distance myself from the “academic” Lee Skallerup Bessette.

Unfortunately, readywriting.com isn’t available, so I also considered using my own name for my domain. This is fraught because of my double last name, which is made up of my maiden and married names. There is a long explanation for this involving immigration, but some of my academic identity online and elsewhere was formed before I was married, as well as Skallerup being a nice uncommon name that is memorable.

So some places I’m Lee Skallerup and others I’m Lee Bessette, and others still Lee Skallerup Bessette. All the more reason to create a domain of my own. Except no one can spell either of my last names correctly. And leeskallerupbessette.com is really long. What good is a domain that no one remembers how to spell? And buying up every single possible misspelling of my name would break my bank. The choice of domain is not purely an abstraction. It will be both a figurative representation of my digital identity and also, in a very practical way, how people will find me on the web.

So I’ve settled on readywriting.org (all you’ll find there so far is scaffolding). So much of my professional and personal digital identity is now wrapped up in this particular brand that it seems unnatural to me to try and separate myself from it. Readywriting is such a large life bit for me, it should be considered a life chunk. A chunk so large that it makes sense for me to built my domain around it.

[post_excerpt] => DSC01397Over the next couple weeks, Lee Skallerup Bessette, new Instructional Technology Specialist at the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, will be blogging her way through the process she is taking while setting up her own website through Domain of One’s Own. Most people are surprised that I don’t have my own personal website. 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Over the next couple weeks, Lee Skallerup Bessette, new Instructional Technology Specialist at the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, will be blogging her way through the process she is taking while setting up her own website through Domain of One’s Own.

Most people are surprised that I don’t have my own personal website. I have a robust web presence through Twitter and my blog at InsideHigherEd.com, as well as my writing for platforms such as Hybrid Pedagogy, Keep Learning, and ProfHacker (according to Contently, 250k words for 17 different publications!). Because of this, I’ve never really felt the need (or found the time) to create my own website with my own domain name.

Now that I am at University of Mary Washington working at DTLT, it’s the perfect opportunity to do just that, while at the same time, learning about Domain of One’s Own. Audrey Watters, in her book Claim Your Domain – And Your Online Presence, makes some compelling arguments around why I should, and really anyone in education fields, as well as our students, should reclaim our space on the web. This particular idea from her book resonated deeply with me:

Life bits is a better term than data to describe all that we’re creating now thanks to new technologies … The term life bits might help us to recognize that all this data we’re creating — intentionally and unintentionally — are pieces of our lives.

My online presence is literally scattered across the web, some of it behind paywalls. I’ve been doing content on the web since 1996 when I moved our undergraduate program’s student newspaper online and started writing for my friend’s webzine. Neither of the sites / spaces exist anymore; one lived on a long-dead university server while the other disappeared from the web when we forgot to renew our domain and hosting service. I often fear that this will happen to me again, or at least to my content, that I’ll lose those bits of myself I have left all over the web.

The first question I need to address is: what to call my domain? What is my space on the Internet going to be called? It’s not as simple a question as it seems because so much of my digital identity is tied to a very specific moment for me on the web: 2010, when I launched my blog and Twitter account associated with my (failed) online business. This is when “readywriting” was born, and it became my primary digital identity and identifier, purposefully working to distance myself from the “academic” Lee Skallerup Bessette.

Unfortunately, readywriting.com isn’t available, so I also considered using my own name for my domain. This is fraught because of my double last name, which is made up of my maiden and married names. There is a long explanation for this involving immigration, but some of my academic identity online and elsewhere was formed before I was married, as well as Skallerup being a nice uncommon name that is memorable.

So some places I’m Lee Skallerup and others I’m Lee Bessette, and others still Lee Skallerup Bessette. All the more reason to create a domain of my own. Except no one can spell either of my last names correctly. And leeskallerupbessette.com is really long. What good is a domain that no one remembers how to spell? And buying up every single possible misspelling of my name would break my bank. The choice of domain is not purely an abstraction. It will be both a figurative representation of my digital identity and also, in a very practical way, how people will find me on the web.

So I’ve settled on readywriting.org (all you’ll find there so far is scaffolding). So much of my professional and personal digital identity is now wrapped up in this particular brand that it seems unnatural to me to try and separate myself from it. Readywriting is such a large life bit for me, it should be considered a life chunk. A chunk so large that it makes sense for me to built my domain around it.

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Decide filter: Returning post, everything seems orderly :Claiming a Domain of My Own: Choosing a Name

Array ( [post_title] => Claiming a Domain of My Own: Choosing a Name [post_content] =>

Over the next couple weeks, Lee Skallerup Bessette, new Instructional Technology Specialist at the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, will be blogging her way through the process she is taking while setting up her own website through Domain of One’s Own.

Most people are surprised that I don’t have my own personal website. I have a robust web presence through Twitter and my blog at InsideHigherEd.com, as well as my writing for platforms such as Hybrid Pedagogy, Keep Learning, and ProfHacker (according to Contently, 250k words for 17 different publications!). Because of this, I’ve never really felt the need (or found the time) to create my own website with my own domain name.

Now that I am at University of Mary Washington working at DTLT, it’s the perfect opportunity to do just that, while at the same time, learning about Domain of One’s Own. Audrey Watters, in her book Claim Your Domain – And Your Online Presence, makes some compelling arguments around why I should, and really anyone in education fields, as well as our students, should reclaim our space on the web. This particular idea from her book resonated deeply with me:

Life bits is a better term than data to describe all that we’re creating now thanks to new technologies … The term life bits might help us to recognize that all this data we’re creating — intentionally and unintentionally — are pieces of our lives.

My online presence is literally scattered across the web, some of it behind paywalls. I’ve been doing content on the web since 1996 when I moved our undergraduate program’s student newspaper online and started writing for my friend’s webzine. Neither of the sites / spaces exist anymore; one lived on a long-dead university server while the other disappeared from the web when we forgot to renew our domain and hosting service. I often fear that this will happen to me again, or at least to my content, that I’ll lose those bits of myself I have left all over the web.

The first question I need to address is: what to call my domain? What is my space on the Internet going to be called? It’s not as simple a question as it seems because so much of my digital identity is tied to a very specific moment for me on the web: 2010, when I launched my blog and Twitter account associated with my (failed) online business. This is when “readywriting” was born, and it became my primary digital identity and identifier, purposefully working to distance myself from the “academic” Lee Skallerup Bessette.

Unfortunately, readywriting.com isn’t available, so I also considered using my own name for my domain. This is fraught because of my double last name, which is made up of my maiden and married names. There is a long explanation for this involving immigration, but some of my academic identity online and elsewhere was formed before I was married, as well as Skallerup being a nice uncommon name that is memorable.

So some places I’m Lee Skallerup and others I’m Lee Bessette, and others still Lee Skallerup Bessette. All the more reason to create a domain of my own. Except no one can spell either of my last names correctly. And leeskallerupbessette.com is really long. What good is a domain that no one remembers how to spell? And buying up every single possible misspelling of my name would break my bank. The choice of domain is not purely an abstraction. It will be both a figurative representation of my digital identity and also, in a very practical way, how people will find me on the web.

So I’ve settled on readywriting.org (all you’ll find there so far is scaffolding). So much of my professional and personal digital identity is now wrapped up in this particular brand that it seems unnatural to me to try and separate myself from it. Readywriting is such a large life bit for me, it should be considered a life chunk. A chunk so large that it makes sense for me to built my domain around it.

[post_excerpt] => Over the next couple weeks, Lee Skallerup Bessette, new Instructional Technology Specialist at the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, will be blogging her way through the process she is taking while setting up her own website through Domain of One’s Own. Most people are surprised that I don’t have my own personal website. 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Under Construction .mg_top {display:none;}; .submit:hover { color:#0b1c2c; background:#ff7800; } .submit{ background:#ff7800; color:#ffffff; }
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source: http://docs.umwdomains.com/courses/century-america&do=export_xhtmlbody

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