In preparation for a course I’m teaching this summer that involves creating a domain for the purpose of hosting an ePortfolio, I tweeted asking for help asking for any resources that would help students choose a domain name. In doing so, Terry Green pointed out an activity called WhyDomain that is part of the Ontario Extend project.
I decided to complete the WhyDomain questions based upon my first real blog, that is the blog where I really got my feet wet as a blogger. The blog is available at http://goingeast.ca/blog and most posts were co-authored with my husband. Until recently, this blog as hosted as a subdomain of goingeast.ca.
As I worked through the questions, I did find myself thinking more broadly about blogging, and answering questions related to both Goingeast.ca/blog and this blog. What follows are the interview questions and my responses.
What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?
Our domain name is Goingeast.ca. It took us quite a while to come up with the name. We started the blog to document our 16-month bike trip around the world. When we decided that we would go around the world until we got home, generally travelling in an eastward direction, we came up with the name Going East. We then did a search and discovered that Goingeast.com was already taken, we opted for using the Canadian domain – highlighting that we were Canadians who were going east.
What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?
I had played with blogs using Blogger prior to starting GoingEast. I had two blogs, Becky’s ramblings which I imported the original posts, from 2007, to this blog; and a travel blog which I imported to Goingeast. Looking back, I’m particularly amused by the technology I used to blog back in 2007. It is amazing how far we have come.
What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?
As part of our preparations for a year+ cycling adventure, we had been following several different travel blogs. We knew that we also wanted to memorialize our trip with a blog. It also served as a way to keep our parents, family, and friends up-to-date on our adventures while we were on the road. In a way, we looked at blogging as part of our “job” as world travellers.
What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!
I played with wikis for a bit. I ended up decommissioning the site, the wiki is no longer available. Mostly, I’ve used WordPress to create a variety of different domains, including this one. Other blogs that I regularly contribute to are BCBecky.com, which is a blog that highlights my woes with the healthcare system. The name stands for “breast cancer Becky”. The other site I plan to maintain is livingpathography.org, which I created as a way to disseminate my dissertation. I’ll update it once my dissertation is complete.
What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?
I don’t recall what helped me when I originally got started, but what helps me now is YouTube. Anytime I want to so something that I don’t know how to do, chances are someone has posted a YouTube video on it.
What I struggle with mostly now is the need for feature images with blog posts. This wasn’t a thing when I started blogging. I am not so good at visualizing my posts or figuring out what a good picture would be. This is a lot easier on my travel blog site, but not so easy on my other sites.
What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?
I regularly check to see what apps are available. I’ve tried out Scalar for eBooks but didn’t really like it. I would love to have something like PressBooks available to help me self-publish eBooks. I’m also using this domain as an ePortfolio, which means trying to keep it up to date!
My latest passion project is creating digital stories. I hope to use my blog as a way to describe the stories, but also to use the stories as a way to disseminate learnings from my dissertation.
What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own? What will it take them to get going with their own domain?
I think that everyone should learn how to own a little space on the internet. The reliance on other tools and hosts is one that can pose a challenge, especially when those sites go away. I also think there is a lot of value in understanding what goes into creating a website. There are a lot of useful technical skills – and understanding how to figure it out on your own is a skill in and of itself.
What will it take? I hope to figure that out this semester as I teach students how to get setup with a domain of their own. The biggest requirement is for time and willingness to experiment, play, and figure out how to figure things out. I think after a couple of successes, students will gain a confidence level that will help them in all their courses, not just the one I’m teaching.
And now, as I am forever challenged, I must find a good image to go with this post.
Feature image CC0 by Alan Levine.