This past week, June 9th-12th, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Domains Conference hosted by Reclaim Hosting in Durham, North Carolina. The experience was truly more unique than any other experience I have had. This was my first education conference, and therefore my first Educational Technology Conference.
The range of schools across the country that attended, along with the wide variety of stages that the domain programs are currently surprised me the most. From the small, undergraduate Liberal Arts college, in the middle of Wisconsin that is St. Norbert to large public schools and graduate schools like NYU and CUNY in the middle of New York City, I was amazed at the variety of the schools represented and that domains connected us all.
I guess I did not realize how far ahead St. Norbert is compared to other institutions. I enjoyed being one of the model schools for how other schools wanted to create their programs.
Last summer, I was extremely excited when I learned about Knight Domains because I had fallen in love with website design in high school, however, I did not realize how rare the opportunity was. Attending this conference made me realize how lucky we are to have supportive faculty and administration at the college. The program was fairly far along when I came to St. Norbert, and I am not really sure how the process of creating the program went, but I am proud to see how much the program has grown in its first year, and I am eager to see how much it will grow next year and in the years to come.
Listening to all the different stories from so many colleges who are in such a wide range of places with their programs really was inspiring to me. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am terrified of strangers and talking to new people, but everyone was incredibly friendly and I loved hearing their stories. I did find it disheartening to see how many administrations do not support domains, but I found it inspiring to see how hard some staff are fighting.
I also enjoyed the critical thinking sessions and discussions that I had this past week. Many of the presentations brought up some critical thoughts and points that I would never think about such as the security of my domain (or lack thereof) and the possibilities that my domain offers other than WordPress.
Least Favorite Part
Oysters. I’ll leave it at that.
The presentation itself went much smoother than I expected it to. I have learned over the past year that every presentation I give will be different and I can never say the same thing twice even if I try. Because of this, I have learned that I am horrible at practice presentations because they just stress me out. During the real presentation, the audience was very engaged and I enjoyed the variety in their questions. It was very rewarding to be able to talk about my work with Full Spectrum Learning and my experience with my domain.
This conference helped me to reflect on my personal use of my domain and how I want to help others use their domains. The main thing I hope to expand on personally is not being stuck in the box of WordPress. This year, it has been really easy for me to think of WordPress as the only option which is limiting due to its themes. Next year, I really want to dive into my sub-domain and try to use a different platform such as Omeka or one of the many other applications on the CPanel. I am hoping to deepen my coding knowledge and free myself from the confines in the themes of WordPress.
The main idea about the future of the program that I came out of the conference with was explaining (but not using) the domains program to the freshman during our gateway class. Currently, the main way that students learn about domains are through the classes that they are used in, but if a student does not take one of these classes, it is hard to say if they will ever learn about the domains program. I think it is important for students to understand what the domains program is and how it can be used, especially outside of the classroom. If I did not have the research fellowship this year, I am not sure how and when I would have learned about domains. Explaining to freshman during their first year can be really important to see their growth over all four years, and I think as a Tech Bar Consultant I have to explain this better when students come in for appointments.
I am excited to see where the next three years at St. Norbert will take me and how much more I can learn. Domains 2019 was an excellent first conference for me to attend, and I am grateful for the opportunity.