You found this blogpost, so you are probably (a) an educator and (b) relatively tech-savvy, so why don’t you own your own domain name yet? The world of domain name ownership has changed, so step up your teaching game and buy your own domain name.
1. Getting one is simple and cheap.
Purchasing a domain used to be difficult, but many new domain services make the process painless and inexpensive. The first place many people try is the sleazy godaddy.com. Gender politics aside, the process of purchasing through godaddy takes about as long as an AP Chemistry test. There are several much simpler and more palatable services that sell domain names including networksolutions.com. My favorite is hover.com, which sells domain names for $15 per year and offers amazing phone tech support. They’re not paying me, but if they did happen to want to sponsor the Google Educast, I’m sure Dan would take your call! Hover is great because of its simplicity. I can setup a domain, and in a few minutes, I’m live. They don’t try to sell you a ton of other products through the process.
2. Owning one is super useful.
If you do nothing else, you should get your own domain name so you can create your own custom URL shortener. Teachers who use technology are constantly asking students and others to go to different links on the web to articles, resources, and (of course) shared Google Documents. I use many tools to get people to various links including Twitter, my LMS (Haiku), and my blog, but often the fastest for me and for students is when I just write a URL on the whiteboard or display it on the projector.
Most domain name hosts will allow you to create forwards that make for simple and memorable URLs. For example, I own brookhouser.me (my distant relative refused to sell me brookhouser.com) When I wanted my students to go to Diana Hacker’s Writer’s Reference site, I just created a forward and sent my students to brookhouser.me/hacker rather than http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/writersref7e/default.asp#t_612701____.Easy for everyone.
3. Goo.gl isn’t enough.
I’ve delivered years of trainings using goo.gl for my agendas and resources, and I don’t think it’s very useful (by itself). The worst part of goo.gl is that it produces a completely random string of characters that are actually difficult to type in a URL window and nearly impossible to memorize. Users also have to contend with the difference between O and 0 and l and I. Yes there are ways around this, but why must we deal with them. I’ve heard a horror story about a teacher accidently sending a student to a foreign porn site because she entered in a wrong character in the URL. Yikes.
4. But you can still use goo.gl’s cool tracking features.
Forward your custom URL forward through a goo.gl URL to maintain those tracking features. Easy.
5. Plenty of great domains available.
In five minutes I found the following short, simple, memorable, and descriptive URLs available for $15 / year.
You don’t have to use a .com address, but those might be slightly more memorable. I think it’s best to join two or three simple words without hyphens. It’s so much easier to read out your URL and end it with “one word,” and everyone will know what you mean.
What’s the best reason to own your own domain name? It feels awesome. It’s like marking your own little patch of grass on the internet where you tell the world, “That’s mine.”