Archive for the ‘ds106’ Category

Site Link

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

My digital storytelling project is now live. I’ll have a more in-depth blog about it and my process soon.

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.

ds106 Mad Men (or women!)

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Image by D'Arcy Norman

nobody blogs like the bava. nobody!

So, if D’Arcy Norman isn’t already doing sick mashups featuring yours truly as the “Mad Men” poster–which is brilliant!—then Tom Woodward is laying down assignment after assignment already on his bionic blog—and I quote:

The Shining Animated Gif
Make an animated gif from your favorite/least favorite movie capturing the essence of a key scene. Make sure the movement is minimal but essential.

All I can say is—are you kidding me? I know who my masters are, and I’m ready to bow down before them already—how sick is this digital storytelling course going to be? Every minute I just get more and more fired up, this is truly what I’ve needed for a while, and now it’s coming together.

What’s more, Dave Cormier, George Siemens, Bonnie Stewart, and Alexander McAuley have produced some really compelling and succinct video explanations about what a MOOC is, what to expect, and how you can be a successful part of one. The later video really helps frame my thinking for the whole thing—and gives the course some essential guidelines to start designing around. I can’t thank them all enough. Again, Canadian edtech crew FTW! When is someone gonna give me a job in Canada? Preferably Vancouver ;)

And let me add to the title of my post the following qualification:


Thursday, December 9th, 2010

DS106 was an interesting class for me. It was a class I took this year which, honestly, I didn’t think would have that much work. I thought it would be easy, kind of boring, and I would get an A. But after the first week I recognized it was awesome, it wasn’t boring, and I could (and possibly did) actually end up with a bad grade because of my lack of posting and commenting. While I regret being lazy (well, not ENTIRELY due to laziness, but just not having more time because of other classes), I don’t regret taking the class. I enjoyed my project (especially my final blog post) and enjoyed most of the assignments I was required to do. It was probably the best class I have taken since my high school film studies class in which we made a feature length movie (and I got to incorporate some of the skills I learned in that class in this one). It was easily one of the most interesting, innovative, and informative classes I have taken at UMW.

As far as criticism of the class goes, I have a couple. While we were actually in class, I honestly felt like I took very little away from most of the discussions. This isn’t because I wasn’t interested in the topics; this class actually touched on subjects I am genuinely interested in many times and usually multiple times in a class. More of my problem was that most classes were a lecture, and that at certain times people would almost engage in discussion with you as class was going on. I had no real problem with this in class (I would just do something stupid like play Hanger on , but it did take away my interest and got me going on to things that really had nothing to do with class. I believe in such thing as a follow up question in class, but if it turns into a one on one discussion it’s a little bit excessive. I would also have liked to have had more group projects. The fun thing about working with the same group all the times we had to do something (which I think was four) is that we would all know our roles and what we would have to do. This really helped us during the making of our projects and these were the most fun times I had in class. They were also the times when I learned the most about what I could do with the materials at my disposal, which I think was the entire point of the class (or maybe a side point).

All in all, I really enjoyed the class. I enjoyed my classmates, the content, and the professor. Keep teaching it.

And the dumbest video yet:

A ds106 wish list

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Image credit: Bionic Teaching's Michael Chasen sits on edupunk Santa's lap and hopes not to suck so much this Xmas
Image credit:Bionicteaching’s “Michael Chasen sits on edupunk Santa’s lap and hopes not to suck so much this Xmas

As I mentioned in my last post, a number of folks have offered to help with the design and execution of ds106. In fact a few have already publicly pledged their undying loyalty—and that’s a party right there! I’m eternally grateful, and the only way to show true gratitude is to actually give folks some more work for no pay—the neo-liberal way! So below is a quick Santa Claus Wish List, very much in the spirit of the season. You give, I take. That said, I plan on adding to this list regularly, and please feel free to do the same via your own blog or the comments.

  • The syndication and republishing of comments represents a particular issue, part of which is solved. All posts tagged ds106 from the contributing blogs will republish on the site using FeedWordPress. And as Cogdog notes here, we can use FeedWordPress and the way it turns tags into categories as a way to come up with a more structured tag taxonomy for each assignment so we can represent all the different projects/assignments visually and contextually using tags and categories Given that, each post will be syndicated and categorized, but the permalink and “leave comment” link will both point back to the original post so people can comment on the source.

    Image of Lego Death StarWhat we need is a way to represent the number of comments on the actual blog on the syndicated post showing up in Moreover, we need a way to feed out comments from all the different blogs to a recent comments widget (or something like it) in the sidebar. So, in short, the same old issue of syndicating and aggregating comments like we do posts. This is kinda like getting the Lego Death Star for Xmas, probably not gonna happen, but why not dream big. or at least let folks tackle one aspect of this problem—like maybe Slave 1?

  • I would love to see some idea around integrating Wikipedia into this course effectively. My initial idea was to open up discussing the Wikipedia article on Digital storytelling, which I have each time I started this class, and for the first week try and generate so ideas around making the article better. Or at least dealing with some of the issue Wikipedians have pointed out exist. There are a lot of missing sources and citations. Can we come up with some? Can we read through the article and tighten it up as a way to get a sense on how one of the most powerful sites on the internet works—all the while highlighting that we make it so. So, in short, a little help on editing Wikipedia, Jon Beasley-Murray and Brian Lamb taught us this years ago, and I would love to see some resources, citations, sources etc (and I need to get on this) so that we can keep this as a distributed, ongoing project over the course of the semester. And it can obviously branch out. The other idea I had was everyone take one an article, or adopt one and just track the process of editing Wikipedia. In every Wikipedia article their is a cultural story, and no one has made this clearer than Jon Udell in his Heavy Metal Umlaut screencast.
  • Image of Boba Fett InvoiceIdeas for assignments of all kinds. What comes to my mind immediately is the need for a graphic design assignment. I talked abut the Megashark infographic and the Boba Fett invoice during this semester, are more than a few students bemoaned the fact we didn;t play more with graphic design in the space between images/photography and audio. I think we could do that this time around, and I would love ideas/assignments. Tom Woodward introduced me to the Superpunch blog, and I think this might need be the “text” for this section of the course ;) You are required to follow that blog regularly all week —all 400 weekly posts!
  • Tutorials for setting up a web hosting service, a WordPress blog, subdomains, etc. I have some of this already, but I am thinking that perhaps turning the into a more comprehensive space to document the process of setting up your own web host, mapping your domain, and generally managing and manipulating the options in CPanel might serve many an educator, student, and everyday web citizen well in the future. And while I don;t want to reinvent the wheel, I think such documentation is something I will be working on anyway for those coming on with no experience in these matters, and I would love to work with others on this. I am one of the odd people that really enjoys writing support documentation, and of you other nuts out there?
  • Image of Tom WoodwardSome recommendations for plugins and ways to make the site more user friendly and perhaps a plugin I can use to send registered members of that blog email updates using a specific category or tag only. Like announcement. Also, what sucks about the site, how would you do it different? Ideas for using the wiki more powerfully? Some general ideas, thoughts, visions I am not seeing? The syllabus is up and kinda raw, it’s from my last two semesters, and hasn’t changed much. Any ideas for that—feel free to edit it, just register on the log and you can edit away? I put < a href="">6 or 7 assignments up, which were voted the best from this past semester, any ideas, thoughts, or recommendations for those? Better ideas to replace them? Tom Woodward mentioned the idea of having folks submit assignments at a given time and let people choose what they want to do, a kind of real life choose your own assignment/adventure based upon the particular theme we ar covering, i.e. video, audio, images, design, fan fiction, etc. How would this work? What would allow for this to be integrated into the experience?

That’s all I got for now, but I know there is much, much more. And if you wanna help there is no better time than now. Whadya got? ;)


Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

I transferred my posts to my old UMW blog that i used last semester. My new blog can be found here


Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Ok I think I have finally finished up with everything. I didn’t realize until now all of my youtube videos that I embedded broke, but I think I went back and fixed all of them. At first  I was having trouble backing up my information because I wasn’t using cast iron coding, instead I was using Fat Cow. Eventually after talking with Professor Groom and some of the people from Fat Cow I figured out how to back up the information even though I wasn’t able to back it up fully due to the limitations with Fat Cow. I would not go with Fat Cow again if I had the choice, but it was certainly a learning experience. Otherwise last Thursday’s class helped me figure out everything else I needed to know about how to put my blog onto UMW Blogs at  I am sad to see this class come to an end, but alas all great things come to an end.

Sound Off 1, 2…

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Has it really come to an end?  I can honestly say it has, unfortunately.  Oh and by the way, in Professor Groom’s assignment on the DS106 website, he mentioned that this was the last swan song.  The only thing I could think of for the next 10 minutes of after reading that, was that ridiculous TV series on Fox a few years ago.  That show got canceled, but luckily this swan song of a post will be thought of, to me at least, in positive terms. This was my favorite class this semester.  I really enjoyed having my own place that was mine.  I own this website, and I can put almost anything that I want on it.  There are some things here and there that I had trouble with over the course of this class, but not really anything I couldn’t do.  My only piece of advice for this next generation of internauts would be: ask. for. help.  But only if you truly have tried your best in order to solve the problem yourself first.

So, a reflection.  We started talking about this in class a little on Thursday, but Professor Groom asked us if we thought that the class was, overbearing.  I thought that all of the assignments were doable, but sometimes we us 106ers were lost in the dark in how to do an assignment.  But fortunately, Professor Groom was helpful if we could not figure it out on our own.  I know for me, I had to get a couple extensions when we had a cluster of assignments due.  But this was partly due to my other classes and with stuff I had to do for them.  Trust me, I would have much rather been working on the ds106 assignments than doing a research paper on squirrel populations on the UMW campus.  True story.  I already voted on my favorite assignments, which included: The Daily Shoot project, the fan fiction homage, the movie video commentary, the all soul’s day video, and to round them off, the mash up.  Personally, I also liked the Google video assignment as well.  I don’t remember who said it during class, but I agree with them in that the Google Maps was fun to do, but it was not easy to listen to other people talk through a 10 minute video.   I love photography, so the daily shoot was right up my ally.  I believe I did pretty well with that assignment overall.  My favorites were the Green Foliage and The Reflective Shades pictures I took.  The fan fiction was AMAZING.  We already had free reign in this class, but this assignment gave us permission to do something that we were obsessed with.  My homage was to Lord of the Rings, as you can see in two of my posts.  The movie commentary was a lot of fun because, again, it was something that we already loved.  The Halloween project was challenging because it was a group project, but it was still a blast.  If you were lucky, you could work with someone you didn’t really know before in the class.

Which brings me to another thing about the class: not knowing who people were.  The very first class we each told a short story and kind of introduced ourselves, but then we got lost on the internet and then I know I did not know who’s blog I was commenting on or viewing.  I personally think this is hilarious, the beauty of it is being able to hide behind the internet and the web through our websites.

There were a few different tools that gave me headaches and then there were others that I love and still use.  I really did not enjoy the audio projects, I don’t know if they just happened to be assigned at a hard part of the semester for me, or if my computer problems added on to it, or who knows maybe I’m just incompetent when it comes to it, but bottom line I was not thrilled.  I think audacity is great for a few uses, but after a while it seems to crash on me constantly, and that’s frustrating.  But, programs that I love are the youtube fastest converter, VLC Media Player, and Camtasia Studio.  Unfortunately, Camtasia will expire soon, but it was definitely fun using it over Windows Movie Maker (which a whole other can of worms).  I used the VLC Media Player for a large chunk of my DS106 project, and it was fairly simple to use in general.  I have used the Youtube converter a few times for the project as well as assignments that were given in class.

My DS106 project did not turn out how I expected it to when I first thought about what I was going to do for the class.  In fact, I like it even more.  I used my video camera built into my laptop to record myself drawing things that I felt like drawing, and then through a time consuming process, sped it up and posted it to my website.  My original concept was trying to draw animals, and you can see I tried to do that through the snake.  But then we dove into video projects and I just could not spend that much time on one thing with everything going on this semester ( in all of my classes).  I still like my snake drawing, but it just took too long, and then I discovered I could speed up video on VLC.  That’s all she wrote from there.  Besides, it became more of a digital story than my original idea.  A video tells a story in itself, but a drawing shows the process of the artwork, and that’s why I love it.

I think my downfall was trying to keep up with everything in the class and commenting and keeping up with my other classes.  But I’d like to think I kept up for the most part, nothing like some people in the class.  I had a blast this year, it was strange, but I actually enjoyed going to class.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Last Video project of the year I believe.  My title is to be continued because I really love this video/drawing thing, so I’m probably going to keep up with it. I wanted to do an homage to the class, and I highlighted a couple of our projects. I have the DS106 tag in the center, because, well, it’s the name given to the class! It’s one of those have to do kind of things. The side reveals my favorite assignment: The Daily Shoot Project. I drew a camera in order to show how much I enjoyed the photography homework. The biggest drawing is in the corner and pays tribute to the fan fiction tribute. I did Lord of the Rings in my fan fiction obsession, so I did another fan art, but this time of just Gollum and the One Ring. Now, a subtle tribute to the reading assignment, is a graffiti styled font of Web 2.0. Even though this was not as exciting as the others, it still jumped us into the class, and the concepts behind it. The pencil and eraser is for my overall project for the class. And last but not least, I loved the video commentary project, so there’s the title of one of my favorite movies, The Number 23.

Song By Girl Talk; Get It Get It

ds106 as an open and online experiment

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Well, I am wrapping up the second iteration of the Digital Storytelling course (ds106) I’ve been teaching this semester, and I have to say it has been a lot of fun. i think I have honed my approach to the course a bit more tightly this semester, and while this run through was still pretty loose, I think I’m ready for the Spring courses. Plural because I’ll be teaching two come January. One which will be offered on UMW’s campus Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:15 in an actual classroom–a physical space. The other is an entirely online course. I’m pretty excited about that, and as much as I talk all sorts of smack about edtech and online learning, this will be my first foray teaching an entirely online course. I’m a bit nervous, but at the same time I am lucky to be part of a network that has been doing some pretty awesome experimentation with bringing the social, networked experience into the totally online course.

Alec Couros has been blazing a path with this for years, and his recent EC&1 831 course is a model I will be shamelessly aping in terms of featuring work and allowing for an open platform for one and all. And then there’s the fearless Canadian triumvirate Dave Cormier, George Siemens and Stephen Downes that are now working on their third iteration of a totally open and online course—not to mention massive! But lest you think all the innovation in edtech is coming from Canada, David Wiley had some fun with this back in the day (so not all just 99.9% of the innovation—damn Canadians! ). And even closer to home, Gardner Campbell has been experimenting with a model for his New Media developmental seminar that he frames brilliantly here—it’s an exciting time for imagining new ways of using social media to rethink online education, and there are no shortage of great examples. I point to a few here, but I am sure I’m missing many, many more.

So what I want to do with ds106 is by no means new, and I have the examples to steal from and hopefully build on. That said, I’m still a bit nervous because I’m totally unorganized, and I don’t really see myself as a leader of such a class. I don’t necessarily want people to sign-up and then be like, “Hey. what’s next?”—though I know there will be some of that. I’d rather people get into the idea of creating and sharing narratives using digital media as a way to interrogate this space, while all the while producing something on a regular (or irregular) basis. I’m not thinking of this so much as a course as I am a series of prompts, possibilities, and people sharing their process within a specific period of time.

I think the “break through” I had—if you can call it that at all—happened when I used Alan Levine’s idea (isn’t everything an Alan Levine idea?) to build the Daily Shoot assignments/prompts as an entire week of my class this term. It was an amazing week of learning and sharing in that it all had so little to do with me, but everything with having a guy like Alan in my network recommending stuff to me on a daily basis. I loosely organized the assignment by saying:

You have to take a different picture everyday for the next 8 days, and you will find the prompts here. Be sure to post the photos on Flickr, use these tags, and then blog it. Also, you need to comment on each others work you philistines!

Or something to that effect, the whole thing simply piggybacked on the dailyshoot assignments that other people created—none of which was mine, but at the same time it was the favorite week of the semester for so many students—and was generative in helping them decide on their digital story project for the semester. Even if I wanted to pretend I had something to do with it, I can’t, and what’s more I didn’t. I went ahead and took the daily photos just like them, and I shared my process just like them. And it worked beautifully!

Being part of the creative act and the ongoing distributed commentary between and amongst the class on each others photos for that week changed the way I approached the course for the rest of the semester, and in many ways continues to inform my idea for the totally online and open version of this course. The Daily Shoot is the model I want to use for the online course for each and every assignment—I think it is brilliant, and there is no question that it uses the best elements at the heart of the generative, distributed and collaborative web, in other words the social web. This class will try and marry the social to the creative in an entirely online environment, and Daily Shoot is the model. But here is my plea, who wants to help run/develop this? I can offer no money, and to be clear I am being paid by UMW to teach this course as an online course. What I am looking for is people who want to set aside a protracted period of time to create, explore, and comment on the work of others, and hopefully help me design from this course shell something that looks like this for each of the assignments:

I am fortunate enough to have Martha Burtis teaching her own section of ds106 this semester, and she has already given me a ton of ideas. More than that, she is building a site that will aggregate examples of digital stories based on a given assignment using tags, etc. It will become a resource for featuring the examples students are finding of any given examples/theme we might be talking about. Now what we need is a way to provide a space like Daily Shoot so that we can see the work of all participants for a particular assignment on a given day. I want it to be visual like DailyShoot, and I know a bunch of people have offered their expertise with this, so I am now calling those offers in. Who wants to form a working group and see how we might do this in about one month?

Finally, I know what it is like to get excited about an open course and not actually do it. I did that for all three open course I signed up for. That said, I followed along at my own pace and did my own thinking and blogging as a direct, or at times indirect, response to those courses. So I am not looking for anything in the way of commitment, just the willingness to create things you might be interested in.

I’m obviously not done thinking this through, and I need all the help I can get, but this is a good beginning, and given I have but a brief “About” page and 6 or 7 assignments up on the new ds106 home (not to mention I themed MediaWiki for the TwentyTen theme) I believe it is a good start. It can be done, and it can be done in a way that is creative, part of our daily work flow, and, most of all, a way to bring together a community of folks to encourage the act of producing stories in all kinds of forms. I hope you can help.