Masters of Our Domain Names: UMW to Pilot Domain of One’s Own

What’s gotten lost in all the attention around the ds106 Kickstarter is the fact that on Friday DTLT sat down with UMW’s Chief Information Office, the inimitable Justin Webb, to work out the details for an initial pilot launch of a Domain of One’s Own at UMW for 200 to 400 students starting this Summer and continuing throughout the 2012/2013 academic year.

What does this mean? It means we’ll be providing personal domain names and web hosting for anywhere from 200-4000 students that will be used in a series of courses over the the coming year. This is born out of the idea that we want to help students consider taking responsibility for their online identity, as well as explorE the implications of what it might mean for them to take control of their work and manage their own portfolios (howe ver we understand that term). The idea that we can do this in partnership with the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) just reinforces how important giving students control over their online identity is at UMW. What’s more, none of this could have even been considered on such a scale without Justin Webb’s support and understanding of just how important this is to the evolution of UMW’s vision of teaching, learning and instructional technologies.

What’s more, if this pilot is successful we’ll be considering giving every incoming Freshman in the 2013/2014 academic year their own domain and webhost to experiment with. So this emerging pilot is the test run for a much bigger and more radical approach to make students nodes within a larger network of the intellectual community that in many ways would transform UMW Blogs into a framework not unlike ds106’s site for a variety of classes, communities, etc.

Now this is exciting!

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16 Responses to Masters of Our Domain Names: UMW to Pilot Domain of One’s Own

  1. Mark McGuire says:

    This is excellent! You are setting an example that others can point to in our efforts to support, rather than constrain, our students. The default position of many institutions of higher learning is to create and enforce policies that limit the ability of staff and students to use social media, and the Internet in general, to engage in teaching and research. You see, branding, and the need to speak with one (institutional) voice is much more important, as I’m sure you understand.

    Mark McGuire

  2. Reverend says:


    I think the UMW Blogs environment coupled with more than 40 or 50 faculty spending a lot of time over the last 4 or 5 years working in these spaces has made this possible on the ground and curricularly—which is the most important element in the end. Having a forward-thinking CIO who is will to work with us to experiment on such a scale has made the implementation possible, and that is really exciting. And in case anyone was wondering given the date on this post, it is not an April Fools Day joke!

  3. Cole says:

    Awesome news! Where will the hosting happen? At umw or via some outside host? How will domains be registered? Dying to know the details!

  4. Reverend says:


    We are working out thos details now, but for the pilot we will probably lock in a Media Temple hosting server that we manage, and Tim Owens will dole out Plesk (CPanels cousin) and we will get domain names wholesale and give the students coupon cards for them so they can have it, but UMW has the whois info to protect them at first, what we want to figure out in this pilot is how easy it will be to transfer domains to student ownership—as well as how much support, management, etc this will be for both DTLT and DoIt. it is the first major project we have worked on together, and it is truly exciting, and I’m sure you remember that talk we had when you were here for Faculty Academy, so much of what we both were dreaming together is coalescing here now—it’s awesome.

  5. I did this will some success with about 40 High School students last year. Not to this scale but the intent was similar.

  6. Keith Rispin says:

    Absolutely! This is in line with my latest blog post on Creating Personal Digital Spaces as a learning tool but also to create a positive digital footprint with which to make a name for oneself. both academically and professionally.

    Although my children do not have a need for their own URL yet I have purchased a URL of their name for future use. This is something I am defiantly pushing for as part and parcel of the grade school experience.

  7. Ben Harwood says:

    @keith – The URL purchase is a good idea. I created google accounts for mine but now am thinking the domain name makes even more sense… if they’re still available! 🙂

  8. Jim Groom says:

    I remember you talking about that experiment last year, how did it go? We will be jumping from about 50-75 students with ds106 to more than 300 or 400. Luckily we have Tim Owens who is all over this, and Justin Webb is sees the vision as a larger IT vision we are really on the cusp of making this a reality around the university, which is simply amazing to me.

    I agree, I think this is in the air and I am thrilled that UMW is willing to tak e ashot at it so early.

    Do you have your domain? 🙂

    Do you expect any less from the bava?

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