Archive for the ‘course reflection’ Category

Course Reflection

Friday, December 10th, 2010

In the weeks since registration for the spring 2011 term, I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve heard say they are taking digital storytelling, are on a waiting list or wish they had signed up to take the class.

Hearing about it so much makes me wish DS106 were part of a two-course sequence, because after 15 weeks, I only want more. I’ve never been in a college class that encourages students to think so creatively about developing content and gives such freedom to create a digital identity. In my reflection paper for my literary journal class, I said the phrase “you’ll get out of it what you put into it” is an appropriate why to put that class in context, and I think the same applies to Digital Storytelling. Yes, the workload was heavy, but you warned us about that on day one.

As a student I tried to approach assignments with the mindset that because of the heavy workload, I was picking up skills that would not only help me create a better final project, but also be useful in my future career field. In hindsight, none of the assignments actually felt like “an assignment” to me and I think that’s because with each of them, we were allowed to explore what interested us rather than being told specifically how to approach the task. You always gave suggestions to get us thinking, but made it clear we could go beyond these.

With some classes I think it’s easy to approach an assignment with an attitude of “How quickly can I get this done?” or “Why are we even doing this?” and I never associated those outlooks with DS106 because of the way the course is largely focused on the students’ process of creating, sharing and discussing content that is significant to them.

The assignments, projects and tools I enjoyed most were the ones I knew little about prior to taking the class, but craved to have more experience with in their use. I think knowing how to use tools like Audacity and work with video will help me a lot in the field I hope to pursue in the future. It was always helpful when you went over the tools in class and had us experiment with the tools in groups first. I know the both might be sacrificed to an extent in the online course, but there are ways I think that can be substituted, especially through the use of video tutorials. I know someone suggested filming the sessions of the class that meets, but honestly, that would probably make me drop the online course. I wouldn’t want to watch a 75-minute video of a regular class each week if I signed up for an online course. I’d be more interested in shorter video tutorials or screencasts walking me through a specific tool. For example, I think a screencast (or even just a post of screenshots) guiding us through switching to new webhosts at the end of the semster would have been helpful. Obviously meeting with you was a huge help, which I appreciate, but as I tried it on my own prior to meeting I had trouble following the directions and knowing where to go, click and download within cPanel.

To echo what was said in class last week, I agree a schedule of assignments would have been helpful early in the semester in addition to the syllabus, even if it were just as simple as “Week 1-Daily Shoot, Week 2-Uninteresting Audio Story, Week 3-El Mashup…” so we would have maybe known what to expect timing-wise in relation to assignments in other courses.

I really appreciated the feedback you gave all of us in our blogs and individual meetings. Honestly, I’ve never had a professor who gave the level of feedback to every student that you gave to each DS106er, and I think this is one reason why the class is such a hit. Your enthusiasm about our blogs and the course content was contagious. It was always great to receive feedback and your highlighting of classmates posts and projects always sparked my interest to explore their content more or reflect on it differently that I might have on a first reading. I know you’ve said you want to highlight individual work more next semester, which I think is great.

One area where I could have improved was in commenting. In the beginning of the semester, I was doing well with keeping up with posts and responding to their work. However, as my assignment load increased in school and work, I didn’t budget enough time in my schedule for commenting. I was visiting the site frequently and reading the majority of posts (skimming others), but my mouse didn’t always meet the comment link in the last few weeks.

Overall, I consider my experience in the class was a positive one, because I enjoy assignments that challenge me to be creative. What’s nice about ds106 is that because of it’s digital nature, the class gives students exposure to several different types of tools that at first might seem unconnected, but can really all be incorporated into one piece (like our final digital storytelling projects). The Daily Shoot Project…El Mashup…Uninteresting Audio Story…the tools associated with these are different-photography, video, audio-but each can become one component of a larger project on the web. This is something I was trying to do with my own digital story.

The Final Project was my favorite project, because for me, it gave me the opportunity to do something I love and incorporated so many of the tools we were introduced to in smaller assignments. Given such freedom to pursue and present a topic of my choice also was motivating. I constantly asked myself, “How can this story be told digitally-what tools does the digital environment provide that I might not be able to use elsewhere?” and from blogging about it to the final project itself, I think my digital project shows I put a lot of time and thought into sharing the Swope’s story.