“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” – Rich Reflection

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“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” by W. Gardner Campbell


A Personal Cyberinfrastructure for Students: Here's one idea... Assign students a web server upon matriculation. Students pick domain name. Students receive constant support from instructional technologist, librarians, and faculty advisors as they start exploring server management tools, playing with wikis and blogs, and installing scripts. Eventually their platform will be able to support publishing, archiving, importing and exporting, and internal and external connections.What I found most interesting in this article was Campbell’s step-by-step guide to helping students build their own personal cyberinfrastructures in an academic setting. I based my concept map on two different excerpts. The first excerpt provided the detailed plan, and the second excerpt discussed the importance of guidance/support by instructors who are engaged and modeling the process (which in my map is represented by its position as a jumping off point for each new task):

  1. So, how might colleges and universities shape curricula to support and inspire the imaginations that students need? Here’s one idea. Suppose that when students matriculate, they are assigned their own web servers — not 1GB folders in the institution’s web space but honest-to-goodness virtualized web servers of the kind available for $7.99 a month from a variety of hosting services, with built-in affordances ranging from database maintenance to web analytics. As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name. Over the course of the first year, in a set of lab seminars facilitated by instructional technologists, librarians, and faculty advisors from across the curriculum, students would build out their digital presences in an environment made of the medium of the web itself. They would experiment with server management tools via graphical user interfaces such as cPanel or other commodity equivalents. They would install scripts with one-click installers such as SimpleScripts. They would play with wikis and blogs; they would tinker and begin to assemble a platform to support their publishing, their archiving, their importing and exporting, their internal and external information connections. They would become, in myriad small but important ways, system administrators for their own digital lives.3 In short, students would build a personal cyberinfrastructure, one they would continue to modify and extend throughout their college career — and beyond.
  2. To provide students the guidance they need to reach these goals, faculty and staff must be willing to lead by example — to demonstrate and discuss, as fellow learners, how they have created and connected their own personal cyberinfrastructures. Like the students, faculty and staff must awaken their own self-efficacy within the myriad creative possibilities that emerge from the new web. These personal cyberinfrastructures will be visible, fractal-like, in the institutional cyberinfrastructures, and the network effects that arise recursively within that relationship will allow new learning and new connections to emerge as a natural part of individual and collaborative efforts.

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