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Building a Professional Identity Online

In this module, you will explore why scholars might want to build and control their professional identity online.

Outcomes:

  1. Increased understanding of the benefits of establishing a professional website and consistent online persona.
  2. Ability to sign up for server space on the web.
  3. Ability to install and launch open-source software (WordPress) to create a new website or blog.

Readings

Do you currently have a personal website? Do you have a professional social media account for networking and communicating with your peers?

For more advice on digital research, teaching, writing, and life management, we recommend subscribing to these blogs:

The readings below from ProfHacker and GradHacker will give you some ideas to get you thinking about how to develop a consistent and professional online presence:

Questions to Consider

  • Established scholars: Have you ever Googled a job applicant or a conference co-presenter and been confused as to which sites or online persona represented them? Do the readings make you reconsider the look or consistency of your online professional identity?
  • Graduate students: How are you preparing to enter the job market? Do you have a consistent, up-to-date online portfolio?

Project Lens

Today, review three different approaches to academic websites before building your own. What kinds of content are found on each faculty or student site? What types of academic work are visible on these sites? Is there anything missing that you would like to see?

Activities

These activities will help you to sign up for server space on Reclaim Hosting and install WordPress. The purpose of this exercise is to get you more comfortable with going online and installing free open-source software. You do not need to maintain a site or a WordPress installation, but it is a good place to play around and get practice. Your WordPress site can also serve as a place to journal your experiences while taking this online course.

Activity 1. Sign up for server space on Reclaim Hosting:

Why do I need a personal web domain when I have a faculty or graduate student page in my college/university’s website?

Control, portability, and space to experiment.

Your faculty web pages serve a good purpose, but they are limiting. For a long time, one of the real challenges of working digitally was finding some way to get inexpensive server space. That often forced people to rely on services that offered little or no opportunity to customize websites and/or little server storage. Access to server space is much easier and cheaper. Additionally, some universities have started to push back against hosting free open-source software, making it challenging for scholars and students to experiment with digital methods and tools, many of which rely on the Linux server operating system.

We suggest that you use Reclaim Hosting, a web hosting service for educators and students, providing simple one-click installation for a variety of web applications, including WordPress, Omeka, MediaWiki, and many others. Launched by Jim Groom and Tim Owens, who developed University of Mary Washington’s “Domain of One’s Own” initiative, Reclaim offers students their own digital space for creating portfolios of their work that they can then take with them when they graduate; it also gives faculty and researchers the ability to launch their own sites. The other reason we like Reclaim is that they have absolutely extraordinary customer service and support. Their small staff will answer your questions quickly and fix any problems you encounter.

If you’re ready to jump in, go directly to http://reclaimhosting.com and sign up for a $30/year account—the cost is about the same as buying one academic book.

Activity 2. Install WordPress:

Why WordPress?

Approximately 25% of all websites run on WordPress. It is an established, free, and open-source web publishing platform. The platform offers many out-of-the-box designs (or themes) and ways to extend the basic functionality of a site beyond just launching a web log (blog). There is a large developer community committed to WordPress, which means if you need help tweaking a website, chances are there is a WordPress developer nearby. It is an attractive platform for academics, because it allows you to share your research, write and publish easily, and host a network of sites (a great asset for teaching) within one application. It also offer plugins and themes that increase the accessibility of your sites to ensure they are available to students and peers with disabilities or those who might only have access to the internet on a mobile device.

WordPress also offers the digitally curious and the digital-doubters an easy place to experiment with writing and publishing online.

If your web domain is ready, go back to Reclaim to install WordPress: http://docs.reclaimhosting.com/wordpress

Updated on August 1, 2018

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