A controversial topic in universities today is to what degrees students should be able to express their voices online. In their respective 2015 articles, Audrey Watters and Andrew Rikard present different viewpoints regarding this important topic.
Watters’s publication “The Web We Need to Give Students” notes that the main advantage of giving students their own digital domain is that this provides students with a platform to showcase their identity. Students can learn the critical and technical skills of creating a web presence in school, and importantly, take their web presence (domain and content) with them upon graduating. The article also points out a potential negative relating to privacy concerns.
In contrast, Rikard’s article “Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It?” discusses how the “Domain of One’s Own” initiative has been used primarily for institutions where faculty teach and requires students to post assignments that are later graded. Rikard argues that with this type of format, students are not truly able to express themselves freely as they feel handcuffed by their assignments and they need to conform to their instructor’s preferences to get good grades. In other words, they are very limited in what they can post.
I strongly agree with the position put forth by Watters as I believe that students who have their own domain feel a strong sense of responsibility regarding what they publish. The ability to reach a larger audience by having an online presence is critically important in our digital world. Rikard’s concern regarding students feeling restricted in expressing their views could be effectively addressed by colleges establishing strong policies that would reassure students that they are able to express their views without negative consequences.
As the online landscape continues to dramatically evolve, our digital presence will play an increasing important role in our individual lives and society in general. Thus, I believe having an online digital presence is important for our generation and future generations to follow.