Thursday, 14 January 2010

Creating a digital footprint

One of the "other" hats that I wear is that I am an Information Technology teacher at an independent school in Melbourne. I work there part time and I have taught IT at Year 12 for eons!
Memories of a favourite hat via Craft Elf

While preparing for my Year 12 class, I was lamenting over whether I would utilise Moodle again as a content management system for my class in addition to the regular paper based materials. I know that there are other similar programs out there, probably better ... but I am familiar with Moodle, and time is of the essence. A content management system allows me to manage the distribution and collection of work from students and more importantly it gives me diagnostic information on whether they are looking at the work, discussions and handouts I am providing them. An extra level of accountability. With Moodle uploaded to an independent web site, I can have full control over my classroom environment, for teachers this is an important aspect of teaching. You don't want an IT department closing down your web site half way through a course, especially if it is a Year 12 subject!

So I thought I would document the process I took to create a digital footprint for my Year 12 class. I know that there are others out there in the crafty world are in the process of setting this up for your businesses, hopefully you will find some use from it.

I had previously done searches for names and had decided on as web site name for my Year 12 class, but by the time I got around to registering it, it was gone! So after a bit of brainstorming with a friend, we ended up with (If you are in IT, you probably know what a zinc whisker is ...).

Names are important when creating a business. The process of coming up with a name is quite complex, it isn't just about making sure the domain name is available. I also checked gmail, twitter, blogger and other social networking tools to see if 'virtualwhiskers' was taken. Once I started to use this identity, it is good if every social networking tool had the same name, easier to track and use.

There are lots of articles about how to choose a domain name. I have a few tips that I use:
  • The shorter the better
  • Two parts to a name easier to remember. eg. Konstant Kaos
  • Try not to choose a word that will be mis-spelt. It might have looked cute on the business logo ... but people will mistype it.
  • Consider similar domain names, will one spelling mistake send customers off to an undesirable web site?
  • If you are branding your business, you need to have a clear idea of colours and logo's before you register. Once you start stepping all over the internet is is harder to change later on.
So, you have chosen your name. Check availability using tools such as Ajax Whois to see if it is available. It is also important to do a few searches on Google. When your customers or students search for your name, what will they find? So long as the answer to the search isn't something offensive, you should be right. Once you start blogging and twittering, your digital footprint should start to appear in the search engines.

There are lots of theories on what type of name you should choose for your web site. Of course it would be good if you could register a name that was exactly your business name. But if you take the case of my blog name, Konstant Kaos was already taken in blogland, so I had to come up with something a bit different. Thus, alittlebitofkaos was born ...

So once you have a digital footprint name all sussed out, what do you do?
  1. You can register your domain name with companies such as Go Daddy, Then you can bring your name across to a web site hosting service such as dreamhost ($10 USD a month), Weebly (mostly free) or Hostgator ($4.95 USD a month). Depending on your needs. For virtual whiskers, I wanted a one touch Moodle install with online help, so we went with dreamhost and signed up for a year. Most of these guys have a help service you can use if you get stuck. But basically they will give you at least two names of servers that you can "point" your registered domain name to. Once that is done, you can upload your web site to your hosting site.

  2. If all you want to do is use blogger as your web site, you can register your blog with blogger, and then buy the domain name through them. For example, this is what we did with Northside Makers. Made sure that was available and that was available and then used bloggers interface to buy and set up the web site. Then we used a blogger template to set up the site.
Once you have your domain, register your other social networking tools. Even if you don't think you will use them right away, register them that way you know they are locked in. A few of the main ones might be ...

There are so many social networking tools out there, you could go mad registering all of them ... the idea is to be strategic and see how others are using them, and choose wisely.
For my purposes, I am going to use twitter for quick article or "check out this web site" updates. Flickr for pictures of classroom diagrams on the board, gmail to handle any site traffic. And I will probably look at a social bookmarking site that the kids can contribute to if they find something online. What is important is that I can use my web site to suck all this information in using Web 2.0 and RSS feeds and I can use it as a hub for what I am doing. Hopefully the kids will learn something along the way and so will I.

So I have registered all the things for virtual whiskers, now I need to set up the web site and the Moodle courses for my kids ... T - 2 weeks for the first day of school!
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1 comment:

Megg, ArtNomadix said...

Thank you for all this info, I am bookmarking this page right now !!