A personal website is an excellent way to facilitate learning. Students should consider well the many benefits that arise from creating their own personal website and using it as a complement to their educational journey.
Reasons for a student to have a personal website
- Now is the time to develop your online real estate.
- Online spaces are a great place to think in public, and students should be thinking in public. Knowledge is meant to be shared. Taking your notes in public has a pedagogical benefit, as well. When your notes will be seen by others, it forces you to raise the quality of those notes.
- Increasingly public demonstration of work and the development of a portfolio are prequisites to landing a job later. The earlier you start the more you will have to show.
Components of a Student Website
- Personal Profile - Have an about page that details you, your experience, and the goals of your education. Think of this like as diet resume. The benefit of having this now is that it allows you to begin working on your resume and portfolio (if you need one of those) for later, so that you're not starting from scratch when you begin the job hunt. In addition, housing this information online provides a clear and easy space for others to know more about you when you enter that phase. Avoid shameless self-promotion. It is possible to talk about yourself accurately and in a way that exhibits humility. A personal profile should not be a personal advertisement.
- Connections to Social Media You Use - Note the "you use" portion of that line. Don't list every account that you've signed up for since middle school. The goal is providing ways for people to easily connect and communicate with you where you already regularly dialogue. It is counterproductive to list Facebook if you only check your Facebook account once every two months. Consequently, if you connect your social media where you do post regularly, mind your conduct in these spaces. You'll often hear advice to curate a professional profile and a personal profile on social, so that you can send certain people to one and your friends to another. For the Christian, this is most often bad advice. Instead, live a life on social media that you should be content to show everyone.
- A space to collect and curate things of value - Much of the learning experience for a student is discovery, especially today with open access to much of the world's collected body of knowledge through the internet. Having a personal website allows you to collect and curate resources you find elsewhere. By doing so, you both create a space for you to return to these easily, and promote these resources to others. Of course, be mindful of plagiarism. Curating the work of others, is promoting their work, not passing it off as your own. Make sure you connect to the original and attribute the work you find clearly.
- A space to house your writing, notetaking, and creating - Finally, students do not merely curate the work of others, they create their own work. This is perhaps the highest end for having a personal website. Develop a space where you can give to others through your own effort at creation. For many, this is the scholarship that they do written form–the articles they write and the notes they take. For others, it may be some other form of media such as photos, video, software, design pieces, etc. This may be as simple as starting a blog page on your personal website so that you can regularly share work you have done. It can be as advanced as creating a Digital Garden or Commonplace Book to house all of your notes and research in a public fashion.