Agreement Extends .edu to All Colleges
A recent government decision that will shorten Web addresses for many community colleges is being heralded as a critical stride forward, both symbolically and technologically, by higher education officials.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced earlier this month that it intends to enter a cooperative agreement giving jurisdiction of the .edu domain to Educause, a nonprofit technology association that represents more than 1,800 colleges, universities and education organizations. Educause will replace VeriSign, Inc., a private California-based company that controls .com, .org and .net domain names.
Part of the decision will allow community colleges to register Web sites with an .edu domain for the first time. Until now, a 1994 rule has reserved the .edu domain for accredited four-year institutions, such as colleges or universities.
According to Margaret Rivera, director of membership and information services at the American Association of Community Colleges, 315 community colleges currently have .edu domains. She said these schools likely obtained their domains before the 1994 rule went into effect. Other community colleges tend to have longer Web addresses often ending in “.cc” followed by state and country codes.
David Baime, director of government relations at the AACC, said the 1994 rule was an informal agreement among the Web community and was established at a time when the limitations of the Internet were not as well understood as they are today.
Baime said the rule could have easily been adapted by Network Solutions, Inc., a VeriSign company that assigns domain names, to include community colleges. He said the AACC sent Network Solutions a letter last year requesting the domain for community colleges but never obtained a response.
Steve Sachs, dean of information technology at Northern Virginia Community College, said the decision tears down barriers on several fronts. First, he said that because Northern Virginia does not have an .edu domain, the school has been barred access to important educational Web sites and resources. Sachs also said that prospective students and the general public often look for the school based on an .edu extension but give up because they are unable to locate the site.
Under the agreement any accredited community college wishing to change to an.edu domain may do so; Sachs said Northern Virginia plans to make the change.
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