A certain strand of the Computer Science 106 course (a.k.a ds106, a nickname for Digital Storytelling 106) is the subject of an article by Alan Levine in the recent issue of EDUCAUSE Review Online called “ds106: Not a Course, Not Like Any MOOC” . The article frames the experimentation that went on here at Mary Washington with the open, online versions of this course from Spring 2011 up and until the present. The vision of the open online course ds106 is described as thus:
Characteristic of ds106 is its distributed structure, mimicking the Internet itself, and its open-source non-LMS platform. Students are charged with registering their own domain, managing their own personal cyberinfrastructure, and publishing to their own website. Via the WordPress plugin FeedWordPress, all content from students is automatically aggregated to the main ds106 site—but all links go back directly to the students’ sites.
What’s more, the course challenges conventions surrounding digital storytelling, online identity, and the state of online visual and vernacular culture more generally:
Most classes in digital storytelling revolve around the personal video narrative form as popularized by the Center for Digital Storytelling. But ds106 storytelling explores the web as a culture, as a media source, and as a place to publish in the open. Not claiming to authoritatively define digital storytelling, ds106 is a constant process of questioning digital storytelling. Is an animated GIF a story? What does it mean to put “fast food” in the hands of Internet pioneers? Why would we mess with the MacGuffin? Is everything a remix? Though this is perhaps simply semantic wordplay, ds106 is not just “on” the web—it is “of” the web.
And while the class has moved beyond UMW and taken on a life of its own at other universities and colleges, as well as within a vibrant open, online community, the spirit was in many ways born of the experimentation and innovation happening at UMW”s Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies over the last eight years:
No one claims ownership of ds106. Its success can be traced to innovation supported by the University of Mary Washington and carried out by the UMW Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT) and to the vision of former UMW leaders Gardner Campbell and Chip German and DTLT team members: Jim Groom, who crafted much of the spirit and drive of ds106; Martha Burtis, who built many of the key web pieces (and has taught the class); and Tim Owens, who shaped the design and functionality of the sites. But the contributions extend further. UMW student Aaron Clemmer built a twitter bot that updates the current content on ds106 radio, itself a contribution of open participant Grant Potter
(University of Northern British Columbia).
Thanks to the work of all of UMW’s faculty, staff and students UMW has become a model for re-imagining instructional technologies as well as teaching and learning in the digital age, and this tradition of experimentation continues on as a faculty development and student enrichment effort through the Domain of One’s Own initiative.