This past (crazy) semester I embarked on another digital journey with other faculty and staff from St. Norbert College. My particular project focused on my Ethnic Geography course and me utilizing my own Domain (website) more during the course. This was important to me because I felt like I needed to practice what I was preaching. In the course I ask students to create their own #knightdomain to host their own learning artifacts from my course. This is new to many of our students, and so they need focus on both content and Bryn Mawr learning objectives. In the past, class information was put onto Moodle (or Google Classroom), and I felt that making this course design change gave me both more credibility with my students and also made me understand some of their potential challenges with developing and building a Domain.
Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies
Ultimately, the project tied nicely into each of the skills in the Bryn Mawr framework. First, the project tied to Digital Survival Skills as it involved at time uploading files. @TaylorJadin and Susan Ashley often helped me better understand items such as embedding PDF files, Google Docs, and Word Docs. This tooks some maneuvering as well with learning some basic code as the Google Doc’s often appeared very small on my domain and I wanted them to have more “full screen” features. Troubleshooting with SNC’s TechBar team was essential in this project and process for me and it also proved that life-long learning is really essential in everything educational – including digital skills. This first skill also helped me in developing and starting to manage my own digital identity which was complex as I wanted to both showcase my skills to other scholars and employers online as well as be effective platforms of sharing information with my students at SNC. It was great to have the experience of building this with experts who could really assist me with the process. Without them, I would not have been successful.
My domain also hosts a few blogs, which is something that I also ask students to do in my own courses and ties to Digital Communication. Writing blogs and hosting them on my domain was just another example of modeling for students and me also gaining perspective on the process. At times there was trouble shooting in this process as well trying to embed my Twitter feed with limited success on my own. The #TechBarStudents were very helpful to me in this process, and I know that quite a few of my students needed help with embedding Twitter on their Domains.
Digital Management and Preservation wasn’t a main focus but certainly present in my Domain. As we speak, I’m trying to copy my Domain to my own platform for life (unfortunately) after SNC. There were also times that I worked with @TaylorJadin to back up my website before making modifications. Data Analysis and Presentation also wasn’t a main focus…but we did add JetPack to each of my subdomains to have an idea of how often and which pages were the most utilized on my domain.
Critical Making, Design and Development was more of an essential component in my project. There were times that I talked with @ReidRiggle about the overall organization and appearance on the website, along with @TaylorJadin. This was a process and something that continuously evolved, including a few theme changes. 🙂 Overall this project was very collaborative with various members of the SNC campus and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to improve my own skills and also to better understand the hiccups and areas where my students need help in creating their own domains.
Elevating Student Learning
Having my own Domain enabled me to have an example for students and show modeling. When I asked them to organize their own Domain’s they were able to see my own organizational features such as my drop down menus. They also saw how my information was not just on my home page but that I had different sections devoted to different aspects of my course. While Moodle and Google Classroom are learning platforms, I also felt that having my own Domain elevated student learning by having more of a “student friendly” platform. I believe the Domain was more visually pleasing and allowed me as a professor more freedom to organize the course – which ultimately elevated student learning as course information was easier to follow from a student perspective. Throughout the course, my students have to tie their artifacts to digital learning objectives from the Bryn Mawr Framework, and it was a great experience for me to practice digital learning along with them.
Ways to improve and what’s next?
This semester was crazy, to say the least. In a “normal” semester, I would have loved to create my own podcast. Many of my students use this digital artifact on their Domain and it’s an area where I always seem to be giving tips…so it would have been great to dip my toe in the water and do a podcast. In the future and with more time, this is an area where I would like to grow and where I would like to ultimately use my podcast as an example for students.
With the shift in the semester, I also found myself really having to change some of my delivery methods (which also fits in nicely with the Bryn Mawr Framework) and therefore I did not have time to gather a lot of feedback from students in terms of the organization of my website and what could be improved.
My plan is to continue using my domain this next school year wherever I “land” and continue utilizing the skills and tools that I’ve learned throughout this process. Thanks again SNC for this experience!
Bibliography for images:
digPINS image from https://autummcaines.com/digpins/
Bryn Mawr Framework from https://techbar.knight.domains/bryn-mawr-framework/
Thinking emoji https://imgflip.com/memetemplate/81561879/Thinking-emoji