UMW’s Domain of One’s Own is the focus of David Raths’s recent article “An E-Portfolio With No Limits” in Campus Technology. I have to immediately note how impressed I was with his reporting. Raths did his research; reached out to several different folks; linked to the various sites he was writing about; and generally spent the time and energy to fully understand a fairly complex teaching and learning ecosystem. What I like about the eportfolio lens is that it catches the attention of a broad base of readers who have struggled with rigid, vendor-driven options for providing such a service on their campuses. UMW Domains provides a new take on that formula that enables institutions to empower faculty, staff, and students alike to manage their work over the course of their career and beyond. By premising eportfolios on domain and commodity web hosting we can move the conversation to the roots of the open web—which is the only thing that scales beautifully, is eminently portable, and vendor agnostic.
The other thing I love about the eportfolio frame (something Mike Caulfield picked up on during a conversation we had back in the Fall) is that it acts like a Trojan Horse for a host of far more powerful possibilities. Once the eportfolio gets you in the door, we can introduce a host of underlying literacies that accompany managing your own space on the web. For example: how domains and web hosting works; what a subdomain is; how to install a host of open source applications; how databases store information; how Google finds your online presence; how you can export and port your data, etc. In other words, a portal (to reclaim a loaded edtech term) to a broader frame for digital literacy as part of the curriculum. More than a portfolio, UMW Domains provides a robust platform that people can experiment with— a “user innovation toolkit” to quote Jon Udell. A space to return some of the immense potentiality of technology back to the community at large. This is truly where the idea of “no limits” comes in, the portfolio is just the gateway drug to the personal cyberinfrastructure which is as limitless as the web. Enjoy the article, I did. UMW Domains, the future is here and now!