Patch Twenty Six – A Path Towards Digital Literacy

My Davidson Domains Journey, By Adelle Patten

Entering college, a constant use of my phone and laptop led to my unquestioning confidence in my digital skills. Soon, as a first-year, I would be introduced to something called “Davidson Domains.” What’s a domain? Subdomain who?? Answer: they’re personalized sites funded through Davidson College hosted by Reclaim Hosting. I quickly learned I was not as digitally-literate or technologically-savvy as I had hoped.

My first year at Davidson, I used Domains to make subdomain portfolios for two courses: Digital Art and a year-long Humanities course. I was familiar with navigating the Humanities program’s subdomain, posting weekly responses to readings, looking at the schedule, etc. The Humanities subdomain differed from Moodle and other CMS (Course Management Systems) because the site left an impression. Its design was representative of the course. It was well thought-out. Everything I needed was at However, when it came time to build my own organized, visually-pleasing portfolios, the experience was…frustrating. Of course, as an Art major I had a ~vision~ for each portfolio. But translating that vision from mind to screen was not nearly as simple as sketching it, mind to paper. (This is called a wireframe– a great first step to take when designing a website.) In WordPress, I chose a theme, added pages, copied-and-pasted writings into posts, and presented my work digitally. Then, in class. Here are some previews:

Over winter break during my Sophomore year, I began applying for internships. It was a daunting experience, not knowing what kind I wanted or my chances of getting one. I came to two realizations:

  1. Web-designing and proficiencies in Adobe programs = marketable skills.
  2. Domains can be used for any work: personally, educationally, professionally.

I figured gaining these skills could only be productive. With this mindset, I set out to build an art portfolio. Something to showcase my in-flux, growing collection of drawings, paintings, collages, and digital work.

Spring semester began and my next opportunity arose. Because of my three subdomains and a willingness to learn, I left Davidson’s T&I building with a Media Consultant job. As one, I was expected to self-train using Domains, Adobe Programs, and media lab technology to then help other students. All one can do is continually learn.

Paired with my gig Media Consulting was my enrollment in a Critical Web Design class. A match made in heaven… Entering this new world, I applied lessons gained from painting (LOVE a good liberal arts education!), like the value of experimentation, attention to detail, and patience, to my digital literacy journey. Mind you- I have never thought of myself as “a tech person.” By the end of Spring semester, I applied my new knowledge of HTML, CSS, and web designing principles to Domains. However, I still had questions. How should I use my main domain ( Why should I put more time and effort into another one? And this is when I began to think critically about my own digital presence. What do I want anyone and everyone to know about me? By this point in my college career, I had all the social media accounts, plus Handshake and LinkedIn. My digital presence felt scattered. It majorly lacked a uniform representation of me.

It finally occurred to me that my main domain could become an all-encompassing, comprehensive introduction to me starting a summer internship with Davidson’s Digital Learning team.

After attending DOMAINS19, a conference hosted by Reclaim Hosting, my suspicions about social media and technology were solidified. Third-party providers often obtain our personal data from social media and use of the Web. Open the flood gates of today’s technology and you’ll be swept away by targeted advertising, the very real existence of surveillance culture, flawed news, skewed politics, polarization all-around. But with these frightening trends, I realized I could use Domains to enhance my digital presence, while being securely hosted.

Twitter humor says we all have our own FBI agents:

They usually make judgements about what we look up, post about, watch on Netflix, etc.

I leave you with this: think about your digital presence in relation to the potential opportunities available through Domains. What do you want your hypothetical FBI agent, potential employers, family, professors, or friends to see about you, outside of the mask that is social media? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. It’s a personal decision. However, as the line between truths and falsities continually blurs, I challenge you to use Domains to your advantage. Make it an ultimate, truthful depiction of you that demonstrates a level of digital literacy by its very existence.

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