Presumably, all of us have been active and present on the internet and the world wide web. But that presence is probably scattered across many different places. To begin actively managing our online identity, our first task is to build a home on the web and begin to connect to your classmates and others. Each student will complete the following:

  • set up a web domain with Reclaim Hosting. The cost is $25 for one-year of domain registration and web hosting.
  • install WordPress on their website, begin to learn about the WordPress dashboard, and select a theme and basic formatting options for a blog
  • sign up for a Twitter account and begin to learn the basics of personal and academic networking using the TweetDeck client.

During the first couple of class meetings, we will walk through these activities and help each other get set up. There will also be tutorials and guides, which are linked to below.

Once we have acquired these tools, we can then begin to use them to engage in conversation, discussion, and publication. As we begin the course, each of us will consider why we are here and what we hope to learn. We’ll establish some learning goals and objectives, look at the sequence of themes and topics, and talk about resources, exercises, projects, and assessment of our learning.

We will also begin to think in broad terms about why it is important to consciously and reflectively construct our online or digital profile and identity. What kind of data about us already exists online, and how can we start to gain some control over how our data gets used? What networks are we a part of? How can begin to develop a strong professional identity online?

What we have begun to do, in the words of Gardner Campbell, is to set up a “personal cyber infrastructure.” This term refers an online space, managed and directed by the learner, for discovery and invention, for producing and sharing knowledge, for participation in an open and connected network of learning. It is a place for persons to become “the architect of their own digital lives.”

EXPLORE (required reading/watching/listening, etc.)

BUILD (required assignments/projects to complete)

  • acquire a web domain at Reclaim Hosting; begin to become familiar with managing your domain using the cPanel at Reclaim.
  • install WordPress on your web domain; begin to learn about WP and blogging.
  • establish a Twitter account and begin to learn about using Twitter effectively with the TweetDeck application; include the course hashtag, #HowtheWebWorks, in all course-related tweets
  • do a “vanity search” of your online presence as described here.
  • first blog post:
    1. introduce yourself and tell the world what you would like people to know about you. What are your academic/professional interests and objectives? What motivated you to take this course, and what do you want to learn from it? What do you care about? Do you have hobbies? What would you change about the world, if you could? What would you change about yourself, if you could?
    2. include a picture of yourself. Visual elements are powerful in communication and creating social connections. If you want, include any other forms of media that you would like to use to express who you are…other images, videos, audio clips, etc. Be creative!
    3. describe your present internet/web profile and presence, including links to other public places you have on the web. What did you learn from searching for/about yourself? What can other people learn about you online?
    4. remember that your blog posts and tweets are public…part of what we are learning is how to present ourselves online ways that are appropriate but also interesting and expressive.
  • complete all the above by 10 pm on Wednesday, January 6


  • follow all your classmates’s Twitter feeds
  • discover and follow an additional three Twitter feeds relevant to your interests and major.
  • tweet at least one question/insight/observation from the articles by Watters and Campbell.
  • use the course hashtag, #HowtheWebWorks, with all your course-related tweets
  • leave at least one substantial comment on a classmate’s first blog post
  • complete all the above by 10pm on Wednesday, January 6.