When I first read and reflected on “A Domain of One’s Own” last
year, I was just starting the ONID program.
Even that early in the program, I recognized the web as a learning
space, “designed for the purpose of sharing information and collaborating on
knowledge-building endeavors” (Watters, A., 2017). In my original reflection,
I used the analogy of food production. In
its history, humankind knew exactly where their food originated at one time. They understood the factors necessary to
gather and produce enough food to survive.
There was an ownership over their means of sustenance. As society shifted from rural-agrarian to urban-industrial
culture, it was easier and less labor-intensive to acquire food, but what was
sacrificed in return? Ownership of the
The ease of accessibility and availability of food in the
modern age is the equivalent of the “digital facelift” in education according
to Gardner Campbell in his essay, “A
Personal Cyberinfrastructure.” The
“progress” that higher education achieved with massive turnkey online
systems, especially with the LMS, actually moved in the opposite direction. The
“digital facelift” helped higher education deny both the needs and
the opportunities emerging with this new medium. What was lost with adoption of LMS systems
was student ownership of their own scholarly and creative work.
In my second reading of Watters’ work, I see now how a
domain of one’s own reflects ownership of the student’s work. In this personal “garden,” students are free
to create, grow and reap their scholarly endeavors. “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.”
“Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act.
It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web, to have their
scholarship be meaningful and accessible by others. It allows them to
demonstrate their learning to others beyond the classroom walls. To own one’s
domain gives students an understanding of how Web technologies work. It puts
them in a much better position to control their work, their data, their
identity online.” The
Web We Need to Give Students.
In Campbell’s video, “A
Personal Cyberinfrastructure Revisited,” he refers to the “network as an
artifact” (01:54-02:03). The artifact, the network reflects a student’s
attitude and understanding in her scholarly work. It reveals how she made meaning of knowledge
in her world. How the student laid out
the path in her garden, chose what to plant and grow, and displayed the fruits
of her labor is the artifact.
In the domain of our own, we are free to decide how our garden grows. We retain ownership of our work. We fulfill the original purpose of the world-wide web: contributing to a “system that was – ideally at least – openly available and accessible to everyone, designed for the purpose of sharing information and collaborating on knowledge-building endeavors.”
I am the program coordinator and only full-time faculty of the Paralegal Studies program at the Community & Technical College of UAF.
As I undertake this journey to earning a master's degree, I find myself in the student role after many years of being the instructor. I am hoping my wanderings through higher education will help me be a better teacher and course designer.