In August 2013, I summarized the status of the domains my previous 81 students at UMW had made. Few from 2012 kept their domains, and then, at 6 months after the Spring 2013 class had ended, 20 out of 22 of the blogs from the Spring 2013 class were still there.

That was then.

While looking for some examples of student blog posts today, I returned and found only 6 were still online, or 27%– 16 domains were expired.

It’s not a judgement, and I hold on to the idea the a Domain of Ones Own means One Can Delete the Domain Whenever One Wants To. I do however, feel the loss of the record of that body of work, the links from the assignment bank will need a run of my reaper script.

And maybe its no different from my own educational experience; I tossed every notebook, paper, and artifact of my undergraduate experience.

I can guess a few reasons- this group was still the year of the DoOO pilot; many of the students were seniors, and so are not needing it for this year, and I know of at least one who just did not read their email and missed the expiration notice.

And of the six that are still online, they do not surprise me. They were among the best students in the class, who maybe seemed to grasp that the experience was broader than just a course (I may be projecting, sue me).

The concept is just such a new idea to not just teachers, but students. The value of having a public web space of their own history does not seem to happen to a bit more down the road. It will be interesting to see how this progresses with DoOO being more established for UMW students.

A blog doth die, it maketh one to cry.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Same thing happened to me. We gifting 30 seniors domain names in high school. Only one still maintains it. Of the 300+ students I’ve taught in the past 7 years only a handful regularly blog. Maybe if people could use personal domains within Facebook it would be different

  2. If you project these numbers out a bit more broadly, they might not be so gloomy. If we could get 30% of UMW’s students to be invested in their domain at the end of four years that’s roughly 1500 students out of a population of 4500. It’s not going to be apparent for them at first, and providing it freely as a palce for them to figure it out still has tremendous value even if they decide to let it go fallow.

    But convincing six students out of 22, like you do, is pretty impressive. And I think this is our challenge educators, continuing to push why this is important and how they can use it. It’s still so new to us at UMW, and I’m encouraged by the fact that we’re doing this from the ground up. But the other point here is it takes a community to pull it off. We have to work with more faculty and students at once to demonstrate web literacy and a domain with access to web hosting is part of that process.

    The other idea is these domain should be linked to their digital identity more broadly, and I think in the enar future they will be. Akin to federal social security card. A nationalized vision of digital identity that is far broader than just education, and that is ultimately the issue here. So few other places on the web value this space, Dean kids, but the Facebook comment is telling. We’ve forfeited our idea of inhabiting this space in order to sharecrop, as D’Arcy always reminds us 😉

    Hope springs eternal in the canine breast!

    1. I did not even intend to sound gloomy; it’s going to take the continued effort DTLT and UMW is doing to make this the culture, and experiences piled up for students to understand it transcends the class experience.

      Once class blogging is not going to make someone realize the value. When it gets to be 3, 5, 10, and then clubs, and then other activities, and personal interests, then its on the way.

      If I based my career of blogging on the first 6 months, that would look like a farce. It was years before I even found the rhythm and voice.

  3. I wonder how many of these students set the domain up only because Teacher Said. If that was why they did it, and if they didn’t develop a sense of ownership or personal reason for doing it, then they have no reason to renew the domain. This resembles a fragmented LMS, with bits winking out as focus fades.

      1. agreed. the idea of individual spaces managed by individual students and/or instructors and/or staff, but on common infrastructure – and something they can take with them when they leave (or perhaps arrange for alumni hosting for nominal fee)? this stuff is gold, jerry! GOLD!

  4. Alan, I feel your pain! I stopped teaching using edu-blogs because so very many students resented the tech learning curve for something they truly had no interest in and didn’t imagine ever being interested in.

    It just wasn’t worth it for the few stars who were going to find their way in the firmament anyway. Nowadays I teach straight up writing–most of it cursive in a notebook bent over a desk working on fluency.

    The faculty aren’t much better IMHO, although I only have to teach those who ask…

    1. It our case it was totally “cause we said”. We actually gifted them it. In this case a gift that we likely didn’t do a good enough job of explaining what it was, what they could do with it and why they might want it. At the same time, we still have a small percentage of folks who have a space of their own online whether it’s self hosted or a personal domain. In some ways it’s the shift from renting to owning. Some go for ownership right away, others need to rent first. I think we need to do a better job of showing a wider variety of ways a personal domain can be used. For most of us, it began with blogging. That’s not a universal entry point for most.

      That said, I have no intention of stopping “making my students” blog. They have to share their work anyway, a blog remains the best platform for sharing in this case.

      1. re: universal entry point – definitely agree there. just because we blog, doesn’t mean anyone else wants to, or sees the value in it for them. imposing our will on them won’t make them want to do it. the personal-domain stuff is only meaningful if it’s the individual’s choice. why start with a blog? because that’s how teacher started? do they start with something else? I’m guessing many folks would be more apt to start with an eportfolio (but that’s just what a blog is! no, it isn’t.) or some form of personal aggregation site (pulling together activity streams from Twitter/facebook/etc…) – but even that will be of questionable value for many.

        1. I’m not sure how we are imposing anything, a single course gives them a chance to try out blogging- a cpanel gives them a lot of choices to do other things. Maybe a photo gallery. Maybe a wiki. Maybe a community forum. But it is like nothing most of them have ever experienced before, and not surprising it does not click in.

          And its fine for them to choose to flush it, I cannot criticize that. But people cannot find value without some experiences that take them into places the’ve not seen before.

  5. Back to the implication above that Facebook is the site of choice for students; in my experience working at Last Chance Community College, that isn’t the case. Average age:33. Overwhelmingly, my students are struggling just to use Word or Google Docs enough to write a paper. Getting it onto our LMS takes until mid-term.

    Returning mothers, young vets, marginally recovering addicts, the latest releases from the Lane County jail because not enough funding for beds… a veritable Bruegel painting–all of them know computer literacy is key to their future, but they are rarely on Facebook. Life is so overwhelming for this population…

    HOWSUMEVER! The DS106 students at UMW are a completely different cut of the population. I think at that level a domain is essential…but what if you said, “For the rest of your life, you will need a professional, online presence, AND you need a place to post your assignments for this class. How do you imagine a ‘lifetime’ digital home? Design and implement.”

    Also, students may remove classwork domains and replace them with something else. I have multiple blogs–why wouldn’t they?

    1. I don’t have answers, but would like to think there are smaller scale approaches one can take with your Bruegel (did that dude invent the bagel?) group. I want to set the bar a notch higher for everyone, not out of reach, but beyond what they know can do now. Only a teacher who knows students can gauge this. But if we set low expectations for what students can do, then they just might only achieve that. I’d rather overestimate a student’s potential than under.

      I’m, just wanting to try this out, certainly not recommending it as the answer to everyone everywhere.

      And there is no suggestion in my qpproach of one blog to rule them all. When my students set up their domains, they learned to leave a placeholder at the top, like is their gateway, and ceate their ds106 stuf at — no reason to remove that — multiple blogs are fine, and several did create new sites for other efforts.

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