The project itself ended in May of 2011.
The project began in October meeting with 20 teachers of Career Education. This was a one day workshop introducing the idea of digital portfolios as well as citizenship and managing of their online content. We then began work with 4 teachers on the specifics of this project including the domain name aspect. We provided an initial session with students introducing the project and inviting them to consider artifacts and ideas for including in their portfolios. We returned 2-3 times to these classrooms to support them.
We began working with 4 teachers and 80 students. Due to an illness, one teacher had to withdraw from the project and another teacher struggled since she only had the students for the first semester. Each student had to agree to receiving a domain as well as their parents approval. In the end, we registered 27 students with domains.
The project might be deemed successful in terms of providing students with a personal domain. There were a few technical aspects that had to be dealt with so there was some learning there for sure. The students themselves all experienced a much more thoughtful look at the idea of portfolios and identity. Some had never done portfolios of any time, others had never done anything digitally and none had ever considered the idea of a personal domain.
The project was less than successful in terms of implementation. The challenge of working over 2 semesters was difficult. Our original vision was to make it a year long process embedded into either Career Education or in some cases English Language Arts. Our team could have provided more support for teachers and worked to find more ways to embed the work into curriculum. The real struggle was in helping students see value in an online space. Many had difficulty thinking about what they might share. In some cases, the teachers had specific items or headings for them to consider but our goal was to empower students to make it their own. We wanted them to include Facebook and other social spaces into their portfolio. Again, the challenge for them to see these spaces in any way beyond social was difficult. The fact that most of these students were graduating or within a year of graduating and they still struggled with their own identity was surprising to me. Perhaps it shouldn't have been. The design process for many was difficult. I would have done well do bring in someone with some specific design skills. We did spend some time in each session looking at exemplars but likely could have done more.
I've had several people ask about the project and while the concept I think is still important I would have done things differently. I likely would have chosen to work with fewer teachers, perhaps only 1 or 2 and been sure to work more closely with the idea of identity. While there are many examples of students who have done this on their own, it's still a foreign concept to most teenagers and adults. The teachers struggled with the process too. I also think that the teachers should have been required to build along side. Experience the process with the students and learned with them.