Did you know that Plymouth State University offers free web hosting and domains for students, staff, and faculty?
This initiative, called Plymouth Create, is Plymouth State University’s version of the Domain of One’s Own project. Started at the University of Mary Washington, Domain of One’s Own sought to give students a place to plant their digital footprint on the web.
Since adopting this same goal in 2017, Plymouth Create has rolled out more than 500 individual domains for the Plymouth State community.
Securing a domain is as easy as logging into myPlymouth. Users can head to https://plymouthcreate.net/ and set up an account using their myPlymouth login. All the user has to do is click “Get Started” to create a domain name and snag a spot of digital real estate for themselves.
Once a domain name is chosen, users can begin building a variety of sites such as blogs, wikis, forums, and more by installing different applications in their Plymouth Create domain. In addition, through subdomains, users can have additional sites that branch off of their primary domain. With this feature, users are not just limited to having a single site; they can have a blog, a forum, and a wiki page that are all linked together through their common domain name. These digital spaces can be as expansive and multifaceted as the imagination of the owner.
By designing websites, Plymouth Create users do more than just paste their work into an online portfolio. Unlike a prefabricated blog, Plymouth Create users are able to shape their digital identities by choosing the type of sites they use, customizing what each site looks like, and integrating the content that each site contains. By having this control, users are able to shape how their online presence is expressed to the public.
For example, take a look at Plymouth State University students Julia Mosso and Jess Sullivan’s Plymouth Create sites. Both sites showcase artistic works. However, by looking at the way the sites are structured and the additional text that the students give, it can be seen that the sites serve two very different purposes.
The front page of Julia’s site is a detailed “About Me” page. This short biography tells visitors about the emotional and creative process that Julia uses in her artwork. By looking within the site, visitors can see that Julia uses a variety of artistic mediums, such as drawings, ceramics, and photography. The various artistic pieces give a personal sense of Julia, which seems to be an important part of her artistic expression.
Jess’s site is very different from this. On the front page is a large slideshow of images that markets Jess’s photographic style. Listed on the top right of the page is a tagline that reads “Wedding, Event, and Promotional Photographer.” In addition, there is a distinct “Pricing and Packages” category both in the top menu and the body of the front page. While there is an “About Me” section, the persona Jess is trying to convey is very clear –they are someone with services to offer.
These students have done more than just build a site; they have authored digital identities. With their domains, the students have created an online presence that is completely customizable and unique to their interests. They have allowed their ideas to inhabit a space on the web that others can access.
This is a giant step away from placing work in a desktop folder, or exclusively submitting work online through a system like Moodle. Moodle, in many ways, is in pedagogical opposition to Plymouth Create– it tells students that their assignments will only ever live in a private space, and that their work will be archived and tucked away once a course is completed.
While having a platform like Moodle is crucial to the organization and framework of a course, supplementing that framework with individual domains gives users a space to find meaning in their work. Over time, these spaces become a living reflection of the ideas and experiences accrued by the user during their time at Plymouth State University. In addition to being a service for the individual, Plymouth Create showcases the growing ideas, interests, and academic work of the community.
by Ryan French, ITS Student Technologist [Original Link]