Five Things, and the Fifth is ds106


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An invited presentation for a workshop for the Media Literacy initiative at Wagner College, April 26, 2013

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  • I have just five things to tell you (hold up hand). It ’ s just that each one has about 99 parts. Hold on to your hats.
  • I live in a place called “ Strawberry, Arizona ” ( ). It ’ s a real place. Mostly, the TSA agents giggle. I will tell you less about that and what I have done before. Now, in more detail. I am fully qualified to talk about everyone ’ s favorite topic... Me. Not not you. But I am somewhat of an expert on the subject. I started university as a Computer Science major and hated it. I went on to earn a BS, a Masters, and half a PhD in Geology, but ended up using computers in the course of my research. So I have no formal training or degrees in the subject Wagner College has brought me here to talk about. As an instructional technologist at the Maricopa Community College system in Phoenix, I spent 14 years exploring educational technologies, working with faculty on projects, and leading systemic initiatives. In 2006 I left Maricopa for a position as Vice President of the New Media Consortium, an international organization that researches emerging technologies (well known for publishing the Horizon Report). A little over two years ago, I unplugged for a personal sabbatical. With the help of an unexpected inheritance, I decided to quit my job at NMC, load up my truck, and drive all the around the US and Canada-- to visit many of the people I had gotten to know online.
  • My passion is digital photography. You can tell however, that I am not a professional (look at the dust on the lens!). Pursuing photography as a regular habit has taught me things I apply to teaching and learning. I cannot explain fully why I enjoy seeing the world through the lens, but I do. And it reminds me that we should all have something like that, or help our students find that (quoting Curly from City Slickers, hold finger up) ONE THING. For me, what I find about photography is that you can get better at it by regular practice, reflection, and sharing the learning with others. Since 2008, inspired by friend/colleague D ‘ Arcy Norman, I started a personal project of posting my one best photo each day to flickr. We started a group where now there are over 900 people doing the same thing. You will notice that I am not 100% perfect, that is not the point. It ’ s to iterate the process. The challenge of doing any creative project is finding the subject and ideas. The Daily Shoot was a site that addressed that problem. Created by professional photographer Duncan Davidson, each day it would issue an assignment, a challenge, either by subject as shown here, or technique. The Daily Shoot provided at least one direction I needed to look for each day, but left it to me on how to interpret it. But it also made my try things I would not have done on my own. And other people do it provided great feedback. The Daily Shoot site closed in 2011, so for the course I teach, we built our own version- and we not only do photography, we have assignments in drawing, audio, video, and writing. You will get a chance to do one today in my workshop. I ’ ve found interesting parallels in the systematics of a camera (an aperture representing openness, shutter speed as time devoted) as useful metaphors for learning. But more importantly, the idea of learning by doing, reflecting, and sharing publicly is one I carry in my own teaching.
  • Storytelling has been at the core of my work, teaching, and interests for a while. Why? It brings the human experience to the forefront. I ’ ve been more interested in the affordances the web serves as a platform for storytelling. In 2007, I built 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story as a workshop/presentation for a speaking tour I did across Australia. The premise is to show how many ways there are to tell a mixed media story with tools that work just in a web browser, and are free. And also to provide a simple framework for designing stories for the web. My “ grand idea ” was to explore each one by telling the same story about my dog, Dominoe. This site is over 6 years old, I am still trying to update it. I ’ ve experimented with building my own web tools- Five Card Flickr Stories provides a platform for creating stories out of pictures only, ones randomly drawn from tagged photos in flickr. Over 9000 stories have been created here, and I have done workshops on this from 5th grade to senior citizens. The fifth graders really are the best at it. As a suggestion, I took that concept and built pechaflickr, a web tool meant to provide a way to practice thinking on your feet,or improv. It combines the concepts of pecha kucha, the 20 slides in 20 seconds presentation format, plus PowerPoint Karoake (where people have to think of talks on the fly for slides they have never seen) with pictures randomly chosen from flickr.
  • Openness in education is more than resources and course materials, it is an attitude. It ’ s understanding that there is more to be gained by sharing then not.
  • Steven Johnson ’ s Book “ Where Good Ideas Come From ” takes a frontal attack in the misconception that big discoveries happen by a sole genius working in isolation, that in everything from science to sociology, great ideas come out of a place where they mingle as raw materials, and are accelerated from the input of others. Johnson describes what became popular in early Modern Europe, the Commonplace book was a journal where people jotted down quotes, ideas, sketches. It ’ s what Darwin did in his travels, Milton did with prose, collecting ideas from different sources, mingling them with their own reflections.
  • That to me describes exactly the way I see my blog. Just last week, my blog turned 10 years old, and it ’ s been mainly a place for me to document what I am inking about, working in angry about. My main purpose is as a memory, but also the act of writing, and re-assembling helps generate new ideas. Let ’ s try something. Name any date, month date and year in the last 10 years. (Ask) Okay (approach someone). Martha, can you tell me what you were finding most interesting on march 23, 2009? I can! In an early blog post, author Cory Doctorow described it as his “ outboard brain ” a place not for final polished products, but thoughts in action. John Udell, researcher at Microsoft was described this process as- “ narrating work we do ” “ Since then I ’ ve spoken a few times about the idea that by narrating our work, we can perhaps restore some of what was lost when factories and then offices made work opaque and not easily observable. ”
  • And I can tell you first hand, that this act of sharing ideas, resources in the open has many positive consequences. I have been collecting what I used to call “ amazing stories of openness ” , the unexpected outcomes that come when people share what they do. We hear so often of the negative side of being open on the web, the thing that will embarrass you, or the photo that will prevent you from being hired. We are dominated by things to fear from the way the internet might track us. But I see it differently; if we are the ones who generate the tracks, we can compensate the negative with more of our attributes. /
  • For the past two years I have been obsessed with the number 106. It is the name of a digital storytelling class/community I have taught, and is what I am bringing to this afternoon ‘ s workshop.
  • ds106 is not even a course itself; but it was started at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is actually CPSC 106, a creative elective course in the Computer Science Department. It was taught previously in the vein most people think of as digital storytelling, the personal narrative, in the form of a video. But ds106 looks more broadly at the landscape of possibility of using the web as a platform for stories, and even more than a place to publish and share, as the setting and material itself for making stories. /
  • But let ’ s hear previous students tell you what the class is about (play video)
  • What makes it all work is a thing we call the “ syndication bus ” a web protocola that allows for individuals to manage their own digital space, so the course is as distributed and connected as the internet itself. This is not the bus itself, but Jim Groom is standing here in one near the UMW campus.
  • ds106 is powered by open source software like Wordpress, we do not gave Gates money, MacArthur money, or private venture capitalist money. The thing that fuels the bus is the Feed Wordpress plugin. Each star here represents on participant ’ s digital space for ds106, and we are able to subscribe to over 700 of them vis FeedWordpress. What this means is that every hour it checks each site for new content published there, and if found, we store a local copy on ds106-- but if you follow any link from ds106, it takes you back to the original publishinh site.
  • But more than that, we can add extra tags to incoming content- these blue stars could represent the blogs of my UMW students, and therefore we can have views of just their ds106 content.
  • So as I mentioned previously, ds106 is a galaxy cluster of several courses, none quite the same, that share the distributed publishing model and may share the same resources- such as York College (one of the CUNY schools), a residential college class at Michigan, english classes at Kennesaw State University anf Kansas State University, plus the larger pool of open online participants.
  • For my UMW class, we have no textbooks (the web is our textbook), no quizzes or exams, and no lecture videos. To add an element of interaction, this semester I experimented with runinng weekly syncronous discussions in Google Hangouts- I played with theming it like aweekly talk show from the 1960s. I ended up making a new promo video each week, but the real core was having colleagues, experts, and oprn participants be able to talk to and with my students -- they were required for course participating to appear at least once as a “ guest host ”
  • We created this resource to provide a regular does of creative challenges. Each day at 10 am Eastern time the site publishes something new, it might be in photography, drawing, audio, video or writing. You will get to try one today on my workshop, but as a wide open resouce many people take on the Daily Create. The ides is that it is something that might take only 15 minutes or less to produce and post to a social media site; we aggregate the responses to our site via unique content tags. It ’ s not the thing created that matters, its the process of how you interpret the challenge. We encourage you to look at it in the morning, and then keep it in mind as you go about your day, so you night be looking for say, a photo of something pink, or the sound of a transaction. We have nearly 500 Daily Creates archived in this site, they are available to you to use. modify for your own activities. What it really doies is provide an outlet to epand your creativity, but also to take on challenges you might not normally do (for me it was deawing, I always said, “ I cannot draw ” but by trying these, I am learning I can). http:/ /
  • The ds106 assignment bank is a community built collection of over 500 creative assignments in categories like visual, design, audio, video, remix/mashup. The way I use it for my class is, say when we are doing design, I might provide one activity all students must do, but for the rest of their week ’ s work they can pick and choose ones from the design category. They have the flexibility then to do ones that interest them. And if they cannot find one they want to do, they can create one themselves. My students are charged with adding 2 new assignments each semester, and may other open participanrs have added ones. /
  • Some of the assignments may appear silly on the surface. This is one student ’ s response to one called “ Patty Pioneers ” It was created by our colleague Scott Lockman, who then at the time was teaching a class in Cyberspace History at Tempe University in Japan. The task is to find a photo of an internet pioneer, and edit the photo to include a fast food item in their hand. So this picture of Alan Kay pondering a giant cheeseburger, or say Doug Englebart holding a pizza, on its own is playful. But in doing these, students have to research something about these figures- the photo is not en end to itself, but a gateway to more undertanding.
  • So if we look at one category, say Design Assignments, you can see we have over 100 to choose from, that ’ s quite a lot. But we can sort them by name, date added, ones that have been dne the most number of times, ones that have been viewed the most... And those yellow stars represent a difficulty rating that is crowd sourced. The person who make an assignment gives it a rating, but an site visitor can vote that rating up or down. When my class does design assignments, they might hve to do 15 stars with, so they can pick to do a few difficult ones or a lot of easy ones.
  • If we look at one example, the One Story Four Icons assignment created by Tom Woodward has been done almost 120 times. The task is to reduce a movie, story, book to four symbols, so this is an activity of of design in simpler form. The icons can be drawn or located on sites like the Noun Project.
  • If we scroll down, on the left side we have access to those 120 examples that have been done before. This is part of the magic of the syndication bus, if your blog is one that we subscribe to as part of ds106, all you have to do when you do this assignment is to write it up and include these 2 tags, the syndication automatically will find it and add it to the list. I should note that I am looking more in an assignment writeup then just the media- my students have to include 2 things in a blog post for an assignment. They have to write about the idea behind the media, where did the inspiration come from? what is the connection to themselves? what is the story or character element they are trying to communicate? Then of course we want to see the media, embedded into their blog post. And they have to write some detail on how they made it- more than what software, what techniques, where did they find the media they used-- what would help someone else doing the same assignbment?
  • Domain of Ones Own / Experimental project, provides all students domains and web hosting, as a pilot for next year when all incoming freshman will be given this. It turns eportfolios inside out, because students are making their own spaces, not being temporary inhabitants of an LMS that might toss out their furnishings, or a university owned entity which is not their own. Relate to Gardner Campbell ’ s idea of a personal cyber infrasttructure
  • So let ’ s meet some of the student from my Spring 2013 section of ds106...
  • Warkins daily create, how she interpreted doing a video differently, not taking to a camera but letting a time lapsed drawing explain her Watkins RDC reinterpreted “ As with any school assignment, I endeavored to follow the parameters: ‘ Find nearest over-looked everyday object. Fabricate a story about it being a key part of your childhood. ’ whilst retaining internet anonymity and furthering my own creative development. I feel that TDC is a fantastic motivator to practice drawing from life, my dream of being creative every day. ”
  • Last part of bootcamp is a creative task for which I give no instructions. Its meant to have students learn the idea of figuring out what they need to know, and how to use their resources and network. To leave bootcamp they dont do an obstacle course, they have to figure out how to create an animated GIF. Another unique aspect of ds106 is that we do not require use of any software; students can use things like Photohop or GarageBand if they have them, if not we provide links to open source software like GIMP and Audacity, as well as web based creation tool Here Jen made GIFs from Gone With the Wind. It is the scene where Scarlett and Rhett ’ s daughter, Bonnie dies. The beauty of this activity is leatning how to reduce something to its leanest elements, maybe 5-10 frames of a video, so that it provides insight into a character or a scene. The other is the scene from 200 Cigarettes where the cabbie is giving Cindy a life lesson.
  • Kristen ’ s blog name shows her interests. Use of creative titles- this is for the visual assignment we call the photo blitz, she relates the word to Blitzen and the WW2 connotation of the word. In this assignment students have 20 minutes for a photo scavenger hunt for shots like an interesting shadow, or use of converging lines. The goal here is to have them look in more detail at the world around them. Kristen photo safari
  • Brittany made this lovely image for an assignment to create a postcard for a place you ’ ve never been but want to go to. She found an image of London bridge, used photo editor to isolate it and place atop a British flag, and add text in a font that matched her idea of the city. Massive Welcome From London
  • Nancy did an assignment we consider creation by deletion- for Newspaper blackout poetry, she took the text of Barack Obama ’ s inauguration speech and generated a poem about the history of gay rights-- she did not do this in software, but actually colored it out by hand-- and this image only shows about 1/5 the whole piece. Nancy Newspaper Blackout poetry
  • Kaitlyn ’ s post is her results for the Design Safari, another activity to notice things in the world, in this case design elements like color, typography, simplicity, balance, and more. (Design Safari)
  • Casey is very interested in books (Owl Be Reading) as blog name, and this is her response to the Six Word Memoir assignment. Based on the Heminway 6 word story, for this assignment she had to find six words and an image to represent her autobiography “ Out of My World Into Yours ” says a lot in a minimalistic fashion. Casey Six Word Memoir
  • Students are part of ds106 beyond their class. The idea for the Valentines day card assignment os form Sarah, one of the first ds106 students who still follows along what the current students are doing (she has graduated and is teaching in Korea). Last year she emailed us with a creative challenge to put to our students; she found a box of very stylistic and tacky Valentines day cards, She scanned them to her flickr account, and for this one students have to add a caption that heightens the effect of the card. Tim (valentine)
  • Tiffany took to the creative writing aspect in her blog space, where each post starts with a few paragraphs of fictional narrative about a character she created called The Fandom Princess. This is something she did on her own, not a class requirement. The point of this assignment is to find 3 characters or movies an be able to create the diagram that shows how they have things in common. It is an easy visual to create, just shapes and text, but coming up with the idea is the real challenge. Tiffany Venn Diagram
  • Karissa is another student with a princess them to her site, but it is also a play on stereotype she she loves math, and includes it as the topic of her work often. The audio assignment is “ the Contest No One Could Win ” where you edit together 2 second segments of 5 songs and make it hard to guess the songs. She took an extra twist by finding all song that were done as calculus parodies of popular music. Karissa calculus song
  • Jazmin ’ s blog and her social media name started out as “ confused easily ” but somewhere in the middle of the semester her confidence grew so it is now called “ Simplicity is the best policy ” Jazmin Music Tag
  • Lara is typical of most students who dread audio having never done any editing before- her response is common as well after an experience of learning how to manipulate audio. Lara Audio burden lifted-- “ I ’ m no longer afraid of audio. I ’ ve come to terms with doing the assignments and I ’ m very familiar now with the programs that accompany it (such as Audacity). ”
  • This is Sarah ’ s work for a unique form of storytelling we do that is finding ways to tell ones that inhabit the web (reference Amazon 3 Wolf Moon t-shirt). She uses a tool created by Mozilla named Hackasaurus which lets her modify every aspect of a web page, text, headings, graphics. She re-cast an amazon product which did not perform very well for her. Sarah Story within the Web
  • I ’ ve tried many ways to encourage my students to comment more on each other ’ s blog .For this smester ’ s unit on this web storytelling, they had to create a character who would leave comments on other students blogs, and have conversations there with other characters. Chelsea create one named Helsea Cay, who was very outgoing but always wrote in pig latin. Chelsea Comment Character
  • When we do audio, my students learn about the art of Foley for generating the sounds they hear in movies and radio shows, that they are often created by special sound techicians using objects like bags of coins or say a stalk of celery swung against a pillow to represent the punch in a fight scene. For this audio Assignment students like Kelsie were assigned a different 30 second segment of a 3 minute Charlie Chaplin clip from the silent movie “ The Circus ” - the task is to create the foley sounds that would work well with that segment. Kelsie Foley Sounds
  • When we get to video, students start first by learning how to “ read ” movies using a powerful essay by the late Roger Ebert. They chose from a collection of classic movie scenes, and observe it three times- First with no sound to notice the work of the camera, kinds of shots, angles, pans, zooms, etc. then the turn down the visual and listen just to the audio, and focus on use of music foley sound effects, etc. The third time they watch it normally, and reflect how the two forms work together. Dylan reviewed this monologue/motivational speech by Al Pacino- the “ Inch by Inch ” scene from Any Given Sunday. Kyle (reading movies)
  • Brooke is a teacher, (hence the blog name) and has some of the most detailed writeups I ’ ve seen, plus from the first week she fills out her posts with extra animated GIFs she has found. This is her work for a video assignment “ Return to the Silent Era ” where she re-edited the trailed for Django Unchained and replaced the dialogue with old time music and added dialogue title cards. The goal is to consider the implications of casting a modern movie in a different era. Brooke silent unchained
  • For the “ Movies That Changed my Life ’ assignment,m Dylan narrated over 3 clips of movies that meant something to him as he grew up. More than a written essay, the authors voice over the clips heightens the connections. Lion King, Office Space, Silence of the Lambs Dylan Movie Scenes
  • Cole took on the challange to create video story that lasted 5 seconds- in this case, he planned and filmed a segment from Narnia of entering the magic closet and emerging to find the strange Mr Tumnas (played by his room-mate). Cole 5 second story video
  • Fairuz created her blog around her environmental interests. In this personal story video, she sends a message using only cards she holds up and music she added in. What is sweet is how she ends up laughing and hiding it behind the cards, but how the feeling shows on her face. The video was also a message to her boyfriend n Brazil (who reportedly liked the video) Fairuz My Story
  • As a sidenote, during the semester, Fairuz ’ s computer died. In ds106 we often turn that into a creative activity, in this case a design assignment to creatMemorial For Fairuz's PC a memorial for her departed PC.
  • Micaela created this lovely mashup of the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the modern song “ Just Give Me A reason ” to create a music video for the film. The way she matched the themes and timing of the song to the movie plot was inspiring. Micaela enternal and pink
  • All student are doing a remix project using photos of author Cory Doctorow. Amber took a photo, and cracked open his head to reveal a robot, playing of his books themes of identity Amber May Artificial Intelligence
  • The open nature of ds106 led to this project- we were contacted by professional photographer Jonathan Worth about doing this project. For the Remix
  • Yes, hopefully you can see that, ds106 is 4life (my photo from the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas, where the message may have stayed there 4 a few hours).
  • Five Things, and the Fifth is ds106

    1. 1. FiveThingsAlan Levine• April 26, 2013Wagner College
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    3. 3. barkingdog.me2
    4. 4. licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by pasukaru76:
    5. 5. 4stories.cogdogblog.comcc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by cogdogblog:
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    9. 9. cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Jims outside photos:
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    23. 23. ds106.ampersanddragon.net with any school assignment, Iendeavored to follow theparameters: “Find nearest over-looked everyday object. Fabricate astory about it being a key part ofyour childhood.” whilst retaininginternet anonymity and furtheringmy own creative development. Ifeel that TDC is a fantasticmotivator to practice drawing fromlife, my dream of being creativeevery day.
    24. 24. ds106.livingwithouta.net
    25. 25. ds106.coffeedogsandactivism.me
    26. 26. ds106.brittanydray.com
    27. 27. ds106.bellekid.com
    28. 28. ds106.kncrotty.com
    29. 29. ds106.owlbereading.com
    30. 30. ds106.slowlykillintime.com
    31. 31. ds106.fandomprincess.com
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    33. 33. ds106.confusedeasily.com
    34. 34. ds106.larahampson.com’m no longer afraid of audio. I’vecome to terms with doing theassignments and I’m very familiarnow with the programs thataccompany it (such as Audacity).
    35. 35. ds106.sarahpark.org
    36. 36. ds106.chachachelsea.com
    37. 37. ds106.missrunnerbug.me
    38. 38. ds106.above-the-clouds.net
    39. 39. ds106.heymsparker.org
    40. 40. ds106.ohmygott.com
    41. 41. ds106.cwyrough.me
    42. 42. ds106.savethepandas.net
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    44. 44. ds106.alittleallovertheplace.com
    45. 45. ds106.missambermay.com
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    47. 47. cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by cogdogblog: