Memoir of a DS106er

DS106 a.k.a. Digital Storytelling…When people ask why I chose to take this class my first response is usually to “process my art.” The reality is that I wanted not only to fulfill a Gen. Ed. requirement, but also take something that would keep my interest throughout the semester. This class was incredibly interesting and made me want to attend class! I’ve never experienced a professor so interested and enthusiastic about what they were teaching as Professor Groom has been. He not only worked to make the class interesting by having us work in groups, but also related every topic to everyday experiences we can all relate to. Unlike most classes with textbook assignments and readings, DS106 went above and beyond and worked to encourage innovation and creativity. Assignments were examples of ways to digitally tell a narrative, whatever it may be. Instead of purchasing a textbook, we all were asked to create our own space in the cyber world. We chose a domain, username and site for our blog where we could share our own story. This space was to be a reflection of who we are and is quickly seen through both what we posted and the themes, settings and applications we chose to include. Professor Groom encouraged us to think of what we wanted to share with the class and anyone else who had access to the web. There were no specific requirements other than regularly posting about our interests and including class assignments on our site.

Now to briefly explain some of the assignments that I both really enjoyed and some of the ones that weren’t on the top of my list. The class started out relatively slow with several online articles about the web and internet that we later discussed in class. I personally wasn’t a huge fan of these assignments as I found them somewhat dry and not a true representation of what was to follow. We blogged about them and even after the discussions I still didn’t have a full understanding of the difference between the web and the internet. I feel like they only related briefly to our semester long project and the rest of what we learned. The progression of the class from then on gradually picked up pace and workload increased. We had to create a flikr and twitter account for the next couple of assignments where we learned about photography and working to create interesting images. We took daily photos with different prompts and really encouraged us to be creative and capture images of objects/our environment in a new way. I loved this assignment, although many of my photos often weren’t comparable to other students’ my class. This was a great way to discover the world in a new way and capture it on film. Professor Groom emphasized the value in telling stories through images and how powerful the meaning behind them can be. They do always say, “a picture is worth 1000 words.”

The uninteresting story was weird. Several students in my class did an exceptional job with this assignment and captured the audience with their ability to make it interesting. However, I would say that the outstanding stories were that way more because of the story-teller than simply the sounds added to the narrative. I feel like this assignment was hit or miss, but we did learn about what makes audio interesting and how to make it powerful and make an impact on those listening.

Video commentary…yep the description/title of the assignment pretty much says it all. This assignment was time consuming and the final product really wasn’t that exciting. It was interesting to see what movies my classmates chose, but actually listening to what they had to say about the movie…not so much. More or less this assignment was to teach about video and all the complications that come along with it. This assignment was efficient in doing this job and really helped me understand about codecs and the other things Professor Andy Rush discussed with us. Professor Groom told us several times that our video assignments wouldn’t be easy and he was right, but I think they were an excellent learning tool and very useful outside of the classroom (and potentially in future jobs…a skill not everyone can say they have!). We learned both simple video editing and how to analyze film (which can be learned through a film studies class, however, this is a much better way to get the same education) and was a good prerequisite to our future video assignments.

El Mashup was my FAVORITE. I had a rough time coming up with what I wanted to do, but once I did I went a little overboard. I love being creative with gifts for friends and family and cutesy girlfriend ideas, but I typically have a harder time being creative in the terms of class assignments. That was one thing I really liked about both this assignment and the class. It caused me to think outside of the box and dig deeper into myself. I ended up spending a lot of time on this assignment because I had issues with using iMovie and getting my video trailers into the program. Andy Rush helped me out immensely with this assignment and I was relatively proud of my final product. As pointed out by Professor Groom, I could have cut it a little shorter and left out some things, but I got really excited once I figured out the logistics of the software.

Our Google-street-view assignment was actually fun too. I enjoyed this because I knew from where I lived that you couldn’t see the street view, but it was cool to see the satellite images that I didn’t know were so visible. Professor Groom told us that 5 minutes probably wouldn’t be enough and it is so true! I liked this assignment so much that I even created a short one for a friend of mine.

The biggest part of this class was creating our own “digital story” project and allowing for a way to express ourselves and our interest to the class/and the world. It helps to be able to share things that we are interested in and learn from what others had to say as well. For my digital story, I chose to outline the progress of my Economic Analysis and Research class as well as writing about my Summer Study Abroad to Spain. This was a way to kill two bird with one stone and also write about something that I thoroughly enjoyed and could keep my interest throughout the semester. Writing about Spain helps me to document my adventures and experiences and keep them for years to come. It is also a good way to encourage other students to look into the program through sharing what I gained from the trip. As far as blogging about my Economic Analysis class and research project, I was able to keep track of the process as well as share the methods that I used which can be used by future students in the Econ department. This project has taken me all semester and has been challenging throughout the whole process. I am going to continue to finish blogging about it as I finish up my final paper this week and make it available for students in Dr. Greenlaw’s ECON 300 class in the future. I did my best to regularly blog about both aspects of my project and feel I did a pretty good job at keeping up with this process. As far as my classmates go, I’m not sure how interesting my blog was, but I enjoyed reading the comments they left and trying to respond to them as well. I took my time writing each of my posts and what each of them said and presented, so this was very time consuming. My biggest critique in this class is that it is extremely time consuming and has quite a large workload for a 100 level course. I want to make it clear that I really enjoyed this class and all that it had to offer, but I wish I had either taken it as a freshman when my workload was lighter or even next year once I’ve finished almost all of my major courses. My biggest downfall was probably the commenting on everyone else’s blogs, especially compared to several students in my class who commented on almost everything. I enjoyed reading and learning from what my classmates posted and commented weekley (except for the last couple of weeks where I just didn’t have as much time as I needed to comment the way I should have). I commented on things that I was interested in, but often found myself commenting just to comment. I really didn’t like that commenting regularly was a requirement for this course, on top of our own project and regular assignments (often twice a week). I would have enjoyed commenting more if I could comment when I found something that I really liked, then trying to make sure I commented on the majority of the blogs in the class. I think a more efficient way to prove that we were reading each others work would to be to weekly create a post and highlight our classmates work and why we enjoyed them. This would not only recognize people for the hard work, but also generate conversation both inside and outside the classroom.

Overall, I really enjoyed this class and definitely do and will recommend it in the future to other students. Each of the assignments helped me learn new things about computers, the internet and telling a narrative to others. I plan on continuing to blog in the future and will use what I’ve learned in other classes to think about assignments in a different light.

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