Our Domain of One’s Own initiative at FIT
Maybe three or four years ago, Jim Groom’s work at University of Mary Washington came onto my radar. I am not sure where I had read originally about his work, but I am pretty sure that Audrey Watter’s blog Hack Education was involved. Her writing has been central to my evolving ideas about technology, and how it relates to socio-cultural issues of gender, class, race and power. Whoever said that technology is not neutral, was right. The choices we make, the platforms, software and hardware that we use, are all decisions we make. Whether we want to use an open source operating system, such as Linux, or an open software such as LibreOffice instead of a Microsoft product are all conscious decisions reflecting who we are, and what we believe in.
Universities giving faculty, staff and students web space to define their own digital identities outside of the walled gardens of LMSs or behind firewall is another decision. To me, it says the University believes in the core mission of education, to empower their community to learn about themselves as learners, and learn about the web and understand its infrastructure. It also places value on the idea of sharing knowledge with the world and with each other, across silos, across disciplines and hierarchies. It also questions the value of LMSs, and challenges us to re-examine the core mission of LMSs. Owned predominantly by venture capital, is education at the heart of their mission?
Domain of One’s Own supports our continuous growth as faculty, gives us a space to think, express ourselves and share our work, our research and sometimes our rantings with our community. Isn’t the idea of building a thriving intellectual community on college campuses what we want? One of the reasons, long ago that I was drawn to teaching, was the idea of academic freedom. Being able to examine and challenge norms of power, and try to change the dynamic the prevailing structures. Let’s break down the silos that we have erected on our campuses and begin a dialogue about building community.
In closing I want to thank some of the people who have shared their thoughts, ideas, musings openly on the web and helped me think differently—Jim Groom, Audrey Watters, Gardner Campbell, Alan Levine, Brian Alexander, Mahi Bali among other.