In “Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters” and “The Web We Need to Give Students,” Audrey Watters discusses the initiative of the same name at University of Mary Washington. She suggests that if all scholars, including educators and students, had their own domains that Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the Web as a place of information sharing and knowledge-building collaborations could be realized. The idea to have a space where one can store and protect their own scholarship.
I love the idea. I agree with Watters that students have lost control of their own personal data and that the classroom is a technological silo. I also think she is right that it would be wonderful if students built digital portfolios that could be used as “a way to track growth and demonstrate new learning over the course of a student’s school career.” I could definitely use a portfolio like this in evaluating a student’s progress. My instructor in this class has required a website from his students as a place to publish assignments, give feedback, and interact with the cohort of other students who are taking this class. Just going through the motions increases one’s confidence in navigating the stormy waters of the Web.
However, I do see a couple of problems. I hate to be a grammar fiend, but either Watters overestimates the effect of technology on growth and education, or this sentence needs to be rephrased, “They [students and staff] can think about how these technologies shape the formation of their understanding of the world – how knowledge is formed and shared; how identity is formed and expressed.” Wait, what? Technology formed my understanding of the world? Technology forms my knowledge? Technology formed my identity? Am I off-base? I think the sentence should read like this instead, “They can think about how the formation of their understanding of the world, including how knowledge is formed/shared and how identity is formed/expressed, can be shaped by technology.
Secondly, I don’t see how the introduction of this level of technology education in high schools is even remotely feasible at the present time. In order to immerse students in technology across the board – build these domains/portfolios in each classroom throughout a student’s school career – all teachers would need to be digitally literate. I am voluntarily taking an expensive course during my summer vacation in order to learn some of these things, but I am only scratching the surface. During the school year, I don’t have the time necessary to do one thing more. I think the only chance for this type of change would be a very slow process. As newly educated and licensed teachers to bring technological know-how into their classrooms and the older teachers retire, the norms will begin to change. Then, we could give students what Watters describes as a way to “shape their own cognition, learning, expression, and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium.”
Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need to Give Students – BRIGHT Magazine. Retrieved June 23, 2018, from
Watters, A. (2017, April 04). Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters (For the Future of Knowledge). Retrieved June 23, 2018,