Shaping Your Online Student Persona

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Most universities give their students an email address, a student ID, and some social media spaces to share with other students and faculty. However, one university is giving students a much bigger opportunity to shape their online student identity. University of Mary Washington is giving freshmen a website domain to use as they see fit through A Domain of One’s Own.

The university has taken this step because they want students to clearly understand that they are not only consumers to what the Internet provides, but also producers of it. They can help shape the messages it provides. After piloting the program with 400 students, University of Mary Washington decided to move forward with offering their entire freshman class with a domain. In four years, every student of the school will have their own web space.

So does this concept really matter? It’s not like the university is a school built around coding or tech development. Could it be a gimmick? I think not. It is important because it is helping students understand the impact they can have on creating their online persona, bringing important information forward, and entering the working world with a strong digital reputation that doesn’t belong to Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social sites. Plus, the university will cover costs of hosting each domain until graduation, even allowing students to purchase their domains after graduation. It provides a great value of defining the “you” that everyone else sees online.

And it seems that others agree. This idea has quickly piqued the interest of other universities, as well as Reclaim Hosting, who is offering a semester of free hosting and software if the college covers the $12 cost per domain for each student. Over 50 universities have shown interest and several thousand people will be participating during its fall launch.

This idea is creating an exciting new age for college students and how they communicate online. Is this something you’d like to see at your university?

Written by: Travis Taggart
Travis is a regular contributor to the Ashford University blog.

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