Richer Reflection for Required Readings 1: A Domain of One’s Own

In principle, I am excited to imagine this kind of a change in our educational system. I am enamored with the idea that each student would have their own server, or at least domain, on the web and use it to publish their ideas without the aid of an ad-infested platform or a pay-to-use publishing service. Gardner Campbell’s idea that “As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name” and then be taught how to use it by knowledgeable staff throughout the first year, really got me thinking about the possibilities and launched an internal dialogue that progressed for the next several hours.

After reading and watching Campbell and Watters I asked myself: “Why do I get excited about this?” The answer comes back that this is the kind of thing that I really enjoy and that I wish that a program for learning this had been in place in the late 90’s/early 2000’s where I was in high school and college so that I now felt more confident in the area of online technology. I suspect there were classes offered at my university on these topics, but not anything that was an established part of the mandatory student experience, especially for a liberal arts major like me. I am therefore grateful to be having at least part of that experience now, twenty years later.

The next question: “Is this the kind of thing that everyone enjoys?” The honest answer: “I don’t think so.” I have had many high school students who aren’t nearly excited as I am by what we can do with technology. Even in my elective classes that are supposed to be fun, many often seem averse to learning about it, and complain that it is too hard even as they pull out their phones to play Clash of Clans. Again: “Why?” Because they aren’t confident in using technology, maybe, or because it is so much easier to be a consumer than a creator.

Finally, “Does it matter that some students don’t want to learn this?”

“Not really. Do all students want to learn math?”

After wrestling with whether it should be a required part of a school program and deciding that it would be beneficial for most students, I decided I would put aside all other objections and make an infographic that could show a possible program of study that would prepare students to be ready administer their own server with a personal domain by the time they enter post-secondary education. This pdf functions best when opened in a web browser.

While I was deliberating the content of this pdf, I decided that the perfect lead-in for primary and secondary students to be prepared for a domain of their own by the time they reached college would be to progress through the relevant age level curriculums from Code.org. I did a week-long training for the “Discoveries” level of their program this summer and decided it was well-organized, engaging, and cognitively valuable for students. It is my belief that these programs would be the perfect “Templates and training wheels” that Gardner Campbell mentions in his article that will prepare students for digital exploration and creativity instead of hindering them by pandering to the consumer mentality throughout their primary and secondary years. Audrey Watters, though in favor of personal domains, seems to scorn the idea that all students and faculty “learn to code”, but I believe Code.org’s program is about more than that. It’s about learning a logical mentality and a little about how the devices we use every day function. Oh, and one more bonus, all levels of the program are FREE for districts and teachers to use with their students.

As for the nuts and bolts of creating this infographic, I knew that I wanted it to be both printable and interactive with clickable buttons and links, so I figured I would use an Adobe program. At first I thought I’d use Illustrator, but after finding this tutorial I decided I had better use InDesign instead. I’m very familiar with InDesign as a publishing program since we use it to design the yearbook at my school, but I have never created an interactive document with it before. I chose a regular paper size and tried to create something that would be a useful printed document, though the true purpose was to create the buttons. I’m not overly proud of the artwork, but it was good to learn how to make an interactive PDF in InDesign with clickable links and buttons. There is apparently a lot more to be done with this program too, as I discovered some other great tutorials for interactive designs while searching for the buttons one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *