Since early 2015, Georgetown has offered the service of Georgetown Domains to students, faculty and staff. Domains is a web space meant to encourage the creation, development, and ownership of digital identities. With over 700 registered users, the Domains community is growing everyday and the site should be able to grow with it. Right now the users of Domains really only exist within their own personal digital space. We believe that there should be a way for all of the users to interact with each other and build a real digital community around Domains.
At the Domains 2017 conference in Oklahoma City (the first Domains conference ever!), we presented on a panel with Jim Groom and Tom Woodward to explain our vision for what a community site for Domains could look like. The presentation itself was a culmination of a few weeks of ideation, designing and prototyping with the team for this phase. Prior to this, we have always been intrigued by the idea of a true community space where people can create, collaborate and discover each other. Our previous attempts at this will be detailed in an upcoming blog post but having learned a few lessons from that, we came up with the following model. We conceived this community model in 3 layers – the macro layer which in this case at the campus level, the next layer is geared towards micro/sub communities which could be program level websites and the third layer is the individual layer.
At the topmost layer, there would be the Georgetown wide level where everyone can see the most recent postings and the most common topics. A search bar and a list of specific topics allow the visitor to explore what people are using their Domain to post and talk about. It could have a few interactive features like a poll or tips for users to entice people to visit the page. It would be a place to see the big picture of Domains and a portal into the more specific topics and programs that exist within Domains.
At the next level, the community site would focus in on a specific program that they wanted to explore more. We believe that it is best to divide the site up by program to encourage them to use all that this space has to offer for the students. It would be a place to curate the ideas and work of the students and show it off. In that space would be a display of all the themes that students were writing on. When a theme is selected, links to specific highlighted student work would appear with student spotlights and resources. This could also serve as a space where connections between what students are writing about could automatically emerge.
Micro/Sub community layer
The third layer would be at the individual level where a visitor could look at the work of a specific student. A student’s page would have a bio of that person, a timeline of their work, and a list of the topics and themes that they have written about. There would also be a commenting space where people could start a conversation with the student about their work and ideas.
Overall the community site would be a space for all of the users on Domains to come together, interact, and promote their work. Groups, clubs, and programs would be contained in the second layer as a subgroup of the overall site. This allows people with specific interests to discuss what is relevant to them. Users are not limited to just one subgroup. The individual level of the community site would be for the users to have another public facing space with an opportunity to get feedback on their work outside of a primarily academic view.
We look forward to continuing the work with Jim and Tom and launching a pilot very soon. We are also looking forward to collaborating with the Domains community given the amount of interest in the conference!