Virginia Woolf wrote ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’*. A room of ones own is a luxury which few could afford at the time without help from husband or family.
As a woman who values enormously the space I have from which to write my blog, I am particularly keen to do what I can to lower the barriers and restrictions which stop any individual or group writing openly.
I was in Virginia this week to hear more about the ‘Domain of One’s Own’ project at the University of Mary Washington. The project provides all incoming freshmen with their own domain names and Web space. Students have the freedom to create subdomains, install any LAMP-compatible software, setup databases and email addresses, and carve out their own space on the web that they own and control. The University picks up the cost of paying for the domain as long as the student is a student. When they stop being a UMW student, they can choose to take over paying for the hosting or let it lapse. In the meantime they have learned valuable digital literacy skills and contributed web-based user-created content to all or any of their courses and activities. The university is not afraid of what the students might do in the space.
It seems to me that this approach is very much in line with University of Edinburgh’s recent ‘Digital Footprint’ campaign, and if we chose to follow it, would build on our commitment to developing the student experience. It is certainly one of the more interesting ways to link student use of the web to their time as part of the university community.
Not cheap though, for 30,000 students.