Archive for the ‘ds106’ Category


Emerging from Chaos

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

This digital story is by Celina Byers, who is originally from Brazil. She tells the story of learning English as her second language.

She introduced herself and her interest in digital storytelling like this:

I am a lucky person! I love my job: what I do for work, where I work, and with whom I work… One morning towards the end of last year I was talking to my director about the increasing requests we are getting for instructional video production and the need for me to update my video production skills to effectively coordinate my team…

We talked a little about how to go about it and she posed me a question: how would you feel about refreshing your video skills through the exploration of digital story telling? How cool is that? I took the lead and found the digital storytelling certification offered by UC Denver and the CDS… Therefore, here I am taking this course and will be completing my certification by the end of the summer….. I am loving it!!

What’s in a Name?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Mustafa  Sakarya is a colleague I met through my Digital Storytelling classwork at UC/Denver. This is a great story that anyone who has ever been teased about their name can relate to!

introduces himself like this:

It was tough growing up with my name in Wisconsin and Illinois.  Got beat up a lot, made fun of.  I escaped into my own fantasy world of day dreaming and drawing.  In 7th grade I began a daily journal that became an obsession – my one true friend that was always there, ready to listen.  I started making films with a Super 8 camera – they were silly things.  After college I made vague, experimental videos for ten years.

I truly believed that all I could ever be was an artist, or a poet – that I had no other skills.  Then time caught up.  Children happened – a mortgage – a Masters in Library Science – suddenly I’m a librarian at Mercy College.  How could I salvage the creative side of my soul?  Then I found out about digital storytelling.  Could this be my savior?  I enlisted the help of a fellow enthusiast and creative soul, Matt Lewis.  The ball of fulfillment kept getting bigger.  Students and faculty keep climbing on board this amazing vehicle.

Camp Magic Macguffin By the Numbers

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

makes use of cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by bitchcakesny:

Now that the 2012 Summer of ds106, Camp Version is over, I spent some time trying to pull some numbers from the machine, given how crazy folks are about analytics and massive.

First of all, I want to thank all 172,000 people who registered for the course (just kidding, we want to make the BIG MOOCS nervous).


This is the number of blog posts by the 11 registered UMW students over the 10 week course. I first ran a database query to find the number of posts in ds106, where all the aggregation happens, that were tagged for our summer section (umwsum12)

SELECT count(p.ID)
FROM wp_posts p 
INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships tr ON (p.ID = tr.object_id) 
INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy tt ON (tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id) 
INNER JOIN wp_terms t ON (tt.term_id = t.term_id) 
WHERE tt.taxonomy = 'post_tag' 
AND t.slug ='umwsum12' 

And I got 435. We have been having some issues with Feedwordpress missing a few blog posts (the developer is working on a fix for us), so in the interest of pure analytics, I went to each students blogs and counted their posts. This os not quite as tedious, if you page through their archives Until you get a not found response and go back one), and find that their last paged url is 5 and there are 3 blog posts on that last page, that means a total of 43 (10 per page plus the last 3).

The activity per student ranged from 22 to 55 blog posts for the class with an average of 41.2 (that would be 4 per week). The distribution actually might be closely proportional to the grade distribution:

Distribution of ds106 student total blog posts

Some consideration should go into that some students did a lot individual posts per daily create where others did weekly summaries, and if I really was going to get into it, I should analyze post lengths and amount fo media embedded.


Total number of blog posts from open participants, here by looking at posts aggregated to the ds106 site tagged ‘openonline’ and after the start date of the class:

SELECT count(p.ID)
FROM wp_posts p 
INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships tr ON (p.ID = tr.object_id) 
INNER JOIN wp_term_taxonomy tt ON (tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id) 
INNER JOIN wp_terms t ON (tt.term_id = t.term_id) 
WHERE tt.taxonomy = 'post_tag' 
AND t.slug ='openonline' 
AND p.post_date > '2012-05-14 00:00:00'

This again is an approximation given some trouble we have had from some blogs not being picked up by Feedwordpress, although the discrepancy fro the UMW student blogs was only 4%.

But this would indicate the activity of the non-registered students exceeded that of the registered ones, but likely spread over more individuals.

Combined, we had well over 1000 blog posts come into the site over the 10 week course.


Number of unique tags/categories used across all blog posts (we convert all tags on incoming feeds to categories. I have no idea what this means. But among the tags for assignments, we find from random sampling:

  • Under pressure
  • just plain blogging
  • Doctor Who
  • bavahead
  • schizopolis
  • lifelong learning
  • dew player
  • DayDoubler
  • Zack Parsons
  • ray harryhausen
  • the magic of zazzy

Draw your own conclusions.


Number of blogs/users syndicate and published to the Magicmacguffin site. This is based on the number of users created on the site, which is done by Feedwordpress as new feeds are added. Our signup form and ds106 registations were the source for us assigning 84 users to our groups (or bunkhouses). So this means that 16 people supplied information but never posted.

Does this mean our “dropout” rate (a term I think has no meaning in open courses) was 19% (or 81% of the people who signed up participated by blogging at least once).

But you know how I feel about the use of the word “dropouts” (“hence” “scarequotes”)


This is the total number of assignment blog posts aggregated to the site (based on the number of occurrences of the post tags, found by searching for the tags in the admin dashboard). I know this is an under estimate because end of the semester we found one student had mistagged all of her posts (she forgot the comma between the general and specific tag).

By looking at the distribution, we might infer that the visual and design assignments are more popular, but it should be noted that the audio and video assignments carry more stars (difficulty rating) so students generally do fewer of the number of assignments because they are more challenging)

or by the numbers

  • VisualAssignments 116
  • DesignAssignments 89
  • AudioAssignments 52
  • VideoAssignments 40
  • RemixAssignments 11
  • MashupAssignments 18


This is six plus hours of the 18 videos created by Martha and I just for the weekly announcements. Tn the first few weeks, we filmed them in DTLT and used the green screen, editing and uploading to YouTube. Because I was traveling for the rest of the course, we went the easy route and did our videos via Google hangouts live, and using the awesome feature that archives them directly to YouTube… This means they may not be edited cleanly but there was no post processing.

And we did all of these without any scripts, after discussing what we would do before hand for maybe 10 minutes, they were totally improvised (the last video had some serious editing, but the audio was done improv).

Without a doubt, working with Martha on these was one of the highlights of the summer experience.

This of course does not include the individual videos Martha and I each did to frame the “narrative”. We each did our own tumblr hosted blog for this Macguffin Summer and Martha’s Camp Journal


One of my to do lists is to add some capability of the Daily Create site to track the number of submissions each challenge (since these are drawn from third party sources, we would need to poll via their APIs).

Also, not figured out yet is some way to keep track of the comment activity across the blogs (#pipedream)

Also what I’d like to get at are some ways to visualize the activity in this busy network on the front of the site, as the chronological view moves so fast and is not very useful.

So there you go, the numbers. Coming up sometime soon, my own reflections on teaching.

The Credit She Never Gets

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Earlier today I posted a quick video about using the ds106 assignments repository to create engagement in an online learning experience. To be clear there are many things that go into such an experience, but I’ve found the ds106 assignment repository has allowed me to re-think ds106 over the last year and a half. The ability to syndicate filtered assignment posts, rate the difficulty level,  relate tutorials, and create new assignments puts the course in the unique position to allow students to shape the experience. The simple act that has proven powerful, fun, and created a sense of community.

The current state of the assignment repository came out of an experimental model Martha Burtis has been iterating on since December 2010. It’s pretty amazing because that was the beginning of the idea of ds106 as open architecture, a space that others can build sites onto, like Alan Levine’s Remix site, Tim Owens’ Daily Create, and Linda McKenna and Rachel McGuirk’s Inspire site.

What’s more, when you think about MOOCs, and ds106 more specifically—which isn’t all that MOOCy—Martha is rarely mentioned. Credit is a tricky thing, and I think Martha would be the last person to really care about all that. That said, she was in Spring 2011 building and teaching an open online course that would be massive in its conception :)

Soon after I became director of DTLT I’ve depended on Martha for advice, guidance, and direction—and she regularly abides. She shares her vast experience freely despite the fact she doesn’t get credit for her work as director of DTLT from 2006 to 2008, her seminal role in ds106 (she made the Summer of Oblivion; I failed the Magic MacGuffin), her deft WordPress coding skills, and her strategic acumen that has kept DTLT relevant and on the edge for years she refuses to be phased. She’s been the organizational and strategic mind running DTLT , and her leadership has been all too often overlooked. So here is a little know secret about the truth on the ground here at DTLT: Martha Burtis is the brains of the organization.

Just the other day while we were figuring out how to help UMW’s current Quality Enhancement Plan (a.k.a. QEP) figure out why they were going to pay a contractor way too much money to transform pre-packaged content in to three online modules (not sure how this idea emerged) covering speaking, writing, and library search skills respectively. The pre-fabricated modules would have a definitive lifespan, there would be no space for iteration, and it would ultimately be resources wasted. Within 10 minutes Martha adeptly refocused the conversation to experimenting with a publishing platform. And rather than rushing to get everything done as soon as possible, we test out one or two individual “lessons” online to see what works. Once we learn how faculty use this in their curriculum, and what would be most useful going forward we’ll make recommendations for developing a platform over the Summer. Hopefully that will be something we can build out from WordPress or MediaWiki or some other similar application, adding to the open ecosystem of options. That’s exactly how you want to run a meeting like this. This is the best possible outcome: experimentation, iteration, and open. Thanks to Martha (and Jerry after her) DTLT has been doing that for years, but this is only just a little of the credit she never gets. I guess we have to start somewhere.

Colleagues, Alan and Martha, LOST in MINECRAFT !!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
"HELP! Alan and Martha are Missing in Minecraft !!" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“HELP! Alan and Martha are Missing in Minecraft !!” by aforgrave, on Flickr

Our two Camp Magic Macguffin co-coordinators, Alan (@cogdog) and Martha (@mburtis), have gone missing in Minecraft. News is sketchy at this point, but it would appear that they vanished at or near the surface to a “ZoneStone Mine” at the border between our world and that of Minecraft, during a series of explosions at or about 19:20 EDT on July 30th. If you have not yet seen it, you may wish to view the news video feed embedded at the bottom of this post. (Caution: May upset some viewers.)

We are marshalling support for our colleagues at this moment. If you can provide assistance of any kind, please add your information to this form.

We are all hoping for the safe and soon return of our beloved friends.

The following news feed provides further details surrounding the disappearance of Alan and Martha. (Again, some images may be disturbing.)

We will be using the tag #106lostinminecraft in aid of the search proceedings.

12:03 PM July 31st Update: Close viewing of this artifact seems to reveal a number of “loops” in the video feed, frequently accompanied by an out-of-sync audio commentary. In the simplest explanation, it may be that our colleagues were somehow spirited away PRIOR to the apparent explosion, and their likenesses remained visible due to the re-played images. In a more chilling, yet possible explanation, Alan and Martha may have been caught within some kind of “Moebius effect,” often implicated within looping or repeating instances of time.

The Moebius Reflux Wave by <a href="">Stamp</a>

The Moebius Reflux Wave majestically sweeping over and returning Earth home. by Stamp

At the War Memorial

Monday, July 30th, 2012


“Those whose sacrifice this Cenotaph commemorates were among the men
who, at call of King and Country, left all that was dear, endured hardship,
faced danger, and finally passed from the sight of men by the path of
duty, giving their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those
who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”


At the War Memorial

The sun was out when I got there. I went out in it, and I saw a young person– a student – I thought, lying on the slanted lawn of the war memorial. He was pale as a cave cricket. I was squinting as I came down the steps through the park. The sun was in my eyes.

“…pale as a cave cricket…”

Another man was walking fast toward me using a cane, one leg straight, so he humped forward like a fast-moving inchworm. He reached the war memorial while I was still under the deep shade of the big trees there – chestnuts, maybe or Bigleaf Maples. The sunbathing man didn’t look up at the sound of the metal cane hitting the cement.
The limping man– I believe he was a soldier because he dropped to the ground stiff as an ant. He stacked one leg on top of the other and did 50 push-ups. He was magnificent. I thought of the leaf cutter ants in the Amazon, the way they march over the duff of the dead holding bright green bits of leaf over their heads. Thousands of them march in a line as  far as the eye can see, and each is strong and magnificent and carries a leaf over his head.

Leaf-cutters on the eternal march….

 As I reached the bottom step and hurried forward as if to address the man, he got up and delivered a passionate salute to the memorial. He turned on his good heel and limped away into the jungle maze of Vancouver.
The student still slept in the sun as I circled the war memorial. I looked at it curiously. I wondered what the man saw in it. I felt like I was missing something. The sun stayed out all day, and the next day it rained..






NOTE: The Cenotaph is in Victory Square in Vancouver, B.C.

The engraved inscriptions are:

Facing Hastings Street: “Their name liveth for evermore,” and, within a stone wreath, “1914-1918.”

Facing Hamilton Street: “Is it nothing to you?”

Facing Pender Street: “All ye that pass by…”


The Value of My Experience at DS106

Monday, July 30th, 2012

As I write my final “letter home” or weekly reflection, I will share advice with future ds106 participants, especially students. Understand that I write this from the perspective of an adult student, in my mid-30′s, in the midst of a successful, demanding career, with a family and home to manage…all while balancing a school agenda, pursing my Bachelor’s of Professional studies degree in Leadership & Management. Obviously, I am an extremely busy woman, whose time is a precious commodity.

I will also share that I dropped another class off my summer schedule because the amount of work required was so intimidating and overwhelming that I was afraid that I could not get it all done successfully to maintain my 3.8 GPA. After dropping that class, I quickly looked for something to take it’s place. Seeing as I am short on general electives, I found this class that thought it would be a fun, creative, even easy way to accumulate credits over the summer. I was a few days late enrolling in this course and felt like I was constantly playing “catch up” right out of the gate. But Martha and Alan were welcoming and the other participants and students were great in helping me along the way and encouraging me with accolades and constructive criticism. My think that ds106 would be fun and creative part was accurate, but easy? Well, not exactly easy for ME, but I certainly learned a lot and I’m sure this ds106 experience is one that I will never forget.

So my advice and experience comes in the form of a David Letterman-style Top Ten List.

10.   Come prepared.

Be ready to hit the ground running. Review the list of materials or potential tools you will need to use throughout ds106, including image editors, video editors, audio editors, etc. Familiarize yourself with unfamiliar programs, if necessary. This will save you time later. I started a bit behind the curve and used a lot of time trying to find the right tool to do what I envisioned in my head.

9.   Pay attention.

Bookmark, and check daily, the activity at ds106. As this is an online environment, use Google Reader, Twitter, the ds106 website and other pertinent tools at your disposal to get announcements and tutorials and follow what’s going on with other ds106ers through blogs, tweets, etc.

8.   Get involved and interact.

You should make a few minutes each day for ds106, including getting involve and interacting with others. It really is a lot of fun to browse blogs and see what other ds106ers are working on. Leave substantive comments whenever possible to not only let everyone, including the professors, that you are participating, but to enjoy the creativity that takes place here. Don’t forget to tweet your new blog posts and daily creates! Again this shows participation and alerts others to review and comment on your work too.

7.   Be consistent.

Daily participation in ds106 is critical.  Be consistent in your activities…planning, interacting, doing assignments, blogging, tweeting, etc. Some tasks and some days will require more time and investment than others. Just keep making progress and you’ll do fine.

6.  Plan ahead.

This is KEY! One of my strategies to plan my week was to browse through the ds106 Assignment Repository at the beginning of each week or segment and start thinking about which assignments I wanted to create and how I would go about doing them. I took myself on field trips often, both around town and online, looking for ideas and inspiration. Also, I recommend looking at the daily create as soon as it’s published each day, to give yourself time to think and do, depending on your schedule for the day.

5.   Do NOT procrastinate!

Putting off until tomorrow what you can or should do today can be a fatal error in ds106. Falling behind will likely create a snowball effect that will leave you overwhelmed. Plan accordingly. If you know you will have schedule conflicts or issues, communicate them to your professor and plan ahead to mitigate these demands. Trust me, I fell behind once or twice and it was so much harder to get back on top of things. There’s a lot of work to do here and you should be ready to commit time every day to ds106.

4.   Open your mind…and your eyes.

This was  one of my favorite things about ds106! If you open your eyes and your mind, you will begin to look at every day things different. As you move through the course, you start to see the concepts all around you. The daily creates really help to stimulate this as well.

3.   Challenge yourself.

DS106 is likely to push each participant out of his or her comfort zone at some point. But I challenge you to push yourself. Don’t always pick the easy assignment or use the same tool every time. Stretch your imagination and reach for the stars. The support system here is fabulous, if you get stuck or have trouble, say so! Others will jump in to help or offer advice.

2.  Tell the your story.

The blog write-up are important. Don’t just post the final product. Explain the story behind why and how you did the assignment. Make it personal. This is not an English class, so informal writing is preferred. EMBED your work, not just link to it. A reader should be able to see or view the media directly on your site and not be re-routed elsewhere. The website is yours…make it yours. Personalize it, own it, enjoy it!

and the number one advice and informal motto of ds106…

1.  “Make Art, Damn It!”

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. You are assessed on your participation and effort, not the perfection of your product. Have fun and be creative!


My personally favorite segment of ds106 was the visual (photography). I bought a new camera at the beginning of the summer, and really enjoyed playing with it and learning to use it in new and exciting ways. This is definitely an area where I didn’t have the time toi do ALL I wanted to in the assignment repository, but watch out…I do plan to keep working ds106 as an open online participant as time allows me. I can’t wait to do some new assignments and maybe even refine some of the ones I already did.

I have truly enjoy my ds106 experience and learned so much, it’s hard to recap it all. I will say I plan on using the skills I learned here to help my boyfriend re-design the website for his business and link it up social media using the media I learn to manipulate here – images, video, audio, etc. The tools will be a great help in marketing his business and increasing traffic and exposure to his work.

Good luck and enjoy ds106…it’s a great place to be creative and play with others! :)

ds106 Assignments: Designing for Engagement in Online Learning

Monday, July 30th, 2012

ds106 Assignments: Effective Engagement in Online Classes from Jim Groom on Vimeo.

Alexandra Pickett, who’s having students create an engaging online course space, asked if I would share some quick advice for thinking about how one might approach designing engagement into an online course experience. I can only steal from the best, and Martha Burtis‘ design of the ds106 assignments is probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in this regard. What’s more, it changed the very notion of engagement for the high school ds106ers I taught two weeks ago. As a technical framework it fundamentally changed the way I teach the class. It allows me to personalize instruction, abstract the tools, and let the students choose and create what they want. That’s amazing in my mind. I would write more, but I have a post I am writing hailing Martha Burtis for the genius she is when it comes to ds106.

Solving the Mysteries of Camp

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I finished this just before I had to leave for the airport and can’t find the embed on my phone. Hope you can see it here anyway:

It was very rewarding to make!

Reflection coming soon…

Tutorial on Milestone Memories

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Tutorial on Milestone Memories


Step 1

Decide what your milestones have been throughout your life. Then find pictures that represent these milestones.


Step 2

Open Power Point and place each image on a slide in chronological order.


Step 3

Go to Insert at the tool bar then click “Text Box” in this box you can write a short phrase or word that explains the milestone and or why it is important to you.


Step 4

Take a screen shot of the final image by pressing command+shift+3. Upload this image to Flickr and tag it VisualAssignments, VisualAssignments621