UPDATE APR 18, 2013: The archive lives! Watch the insanity!

A bit of shtick I used in today’s TCC World Online Conference keynote was an idea that settled in my noggin and would not shake loose. The session was billed as:

Dim the lights, cue the music, roll the open credits”¦ but the ds106 show is not where the audience just sits quietly in their seats. You will not only learn how this open online course in digital storytelling works, but have a chance to try a few of the creative challenges and assignments we give to our students.

Digital storytelling 106 (ds106) offers a versatile opportunity to create a learning community. This open online course in digital storytelling is part of a networked architecture built of participants’ own blogs to which our web site subscribes and shares back content published by individuals. Special features of ds106 include an open assignment bank that participants populate, a daily creative challenge, and even its own internet-based radio station. You can tune in to the show at any time; we are located at http://ds106.us/ on your Internet dial.

I thought I could amp things up, or ham it up…. For what end? I don’t know. But it was the parallels I thought I saw in the plot of the 1976 movie Network where the sacred history of TV news was undermined by corporate interests with today’s “higher education is broken” mantra, where the sacred history of education might be undermined by corporate interests.

Well, they just wanted me to do something on ds106 and MOOCs, but they got:

mooced as hell

This was a series of screen shots from the Howard Beale “I’m as Mad as Hell” segment from the movie, which I re-wrote:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad for online education. It’s a depression.

Education is broken or failed and most institutions will be made obsolete by some company with an X in its name. Student debt is out of control. Degrees will be replaced by badges. Cal State outsources online education to Pearson –pundits declare that MOOCs will make non-elite institutions irrelevant.

California legislators propose a New University to hand out degrees with no teachers, curriculum– just tests. Silicon Valley VCs are calling the shots, the mainstream press eulogizes education among the dead. Educators, do we toss out decades of research on How People Learn? Teachers, how does it feel to be made obsolete by Stanford and MIT superstar profs with their robo graders? We sit watching our iPads while some New York Times journalist tells us of some tsunmai that will wipe us out– as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. Maybe you think is’s elsewhere that it’s going crazy– so we don’t speak out anymore. We sit in our offices as the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our faculty lounges. Let me have my netflix, and facebook, and my iphone apps and I won’t say anything.”

Students, as one of 160,000 in a course, do you know what that makes you? INSIGNIFICANT!

Is this the form of learning you really want? video lectures from people who don’t know you, the only place to talk is sprawling discussion forums, and your achievements are based on multiple choice exams and machine graders?

Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get MAD. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your provost because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the OERs and the badges and the Courserans and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you’ve got to get MAD.

You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being. God Dammit, my learning has value.”

So… I want you to get up now. I want ALL of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now– and open a new browser window, launch twitter, and tweet: “I’m as MOOCed as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore! #2013TCC”

I want you to get up right now. Get up. Open that browser window, get to twitter, and tweet, “I’M AN INDIVIDUAL! MY LEARNING HAS VALUE! #2013TCC”

Things have got to change my friends. You’ve got to get MAD. You’ve got to tweet, “I’m as MOOCed as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Then we’ll figure out what to do about the flipped classes and the open textbooks and the grading crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open your browser window, and tweet , “I’m as MOOCed as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

And it feels right. There is a lot of nodding to change, but as Stephen Downes deftly wrote it out, it seems like inside the walls, people are counting on the same old status quo, or those who can see the end of the line, a big canopy labeled “retirement”, feel like they just need to wait this out.

The shtick was just to get people energized! Someone in the chat room seemed uncomfortable with angry rants, I think she took me a bit literal. I’ve got ties with TCC back to at least 2003, it was nice to re-connect with colleague Cynthia Cologne, my Phoenix CyberSaln Pals did a Google Hangout and watched the show… and I had fun. So there.

I hung all the presentation resources, the poster, the promo video, a slideshare (though it makes little sense w/o the script), and some resource links at http://bit.ly/ds106-tcc.

The premise was as an alt version of the weekly live “shows” I run for class. This might have been the most prep I have done for a presentation in a long while. I actually planned it out in post it notes (influenced by Nancy Duarte’s resonate):

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I envisioned a scene like a talk show, and decided to use my living room couch, so last week I hung a green screen behind, and took more photos that I feel like admitting of me in various poses

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

The white ones have been processed in photoshop to have the background removed, and are saved as transparent background PNG. I need some more practice on the green removal, most I had to hand erase some green fringe halos.

I built the presentation in Keynote, but doing a custom theme did not work out- I wanted to have the very back to be a city skyline (I used a cc licensed flickr image from Waikiki), the front layer to be the frame of an OLD TV set:


and I would drop my sofa/scene PNGs in the middle. Other slides would be just images placed behind the TV graphic. But keynote themes do not allow you to layer the images- background is background. So instead I made two standard slides I used and just duplicated as needed, to have screens like:

alan ds106

ds106 show assignments

I wrote out all my scripts in the presentation notes field, and practiced it in rehearsal mode. I watched the Mad as Hell scene scores of times, and put it on my iPod to listen to in the truck during yesterday’s round trip to Phoenix.

Alas, I ran into a hitch with the presentation notes- A few of mine were longer, and all of the ways I tried to print them cut off the text. I could find no option to resize the text. I tried all of the print modes, even converted it to Powerpoint.

At about 30 minutes prior to show time I was trying to load it on my iPad to use as a prompt, but the freakin’ app just quit once I transferred the presentation over. My last ditch solution, short of improvising it all, was to load a PDF on the iPad, and use that as a prompt. It worked well, and I was able to toggle back to flip slides in Adobe Connect. It did mean I was less able to pay attention to the chat.

I also had the idea to stream the audio out to ds106radio, bit quite sue what it meant for Connect, but in theory it worked. I used Ladiocast, and set the system output to Soundflower 64, mixed that with my mic in Ladiocast, and streamed it out. I got a tad bit much mic delayed feedback when others were talking, but once I took the stage, I just dropped my audio monitor levels low.

The problem was my internet connection has been shaky, the tech was called out Friday and reported a “low signal drop”, that was supposed to be fixed out at the box. But the speeds have been pokier than the broadband I am paying for (I tested at 4 Mb down on a 30 Mb plan, and 1.5 Mb up). The problem seems to be that Ladiocast drops the stream much more readily than NiceCast, which sits there and tries to reconnect itself. I could not do the slide advance, script off the iPad, and keep reconnecting Ladiocast.

But that’s all the making of part. It worked well to go from my script, but add and modify parts as I went. I really wanted to not sound like I was reading, but not too sure how well that came off. A fun part was when talking about today’s Daily Create — I had set this one up to be a Writing one as it is easiest for a crowd to do on the spot. After explaining the Daily Create, I showed them today’s “Write a limerick about your shoes”, and challenged all 119 of those present to add one. Quite a few went nuts with tossing out lines in the chat.

So far, 14 have come in, and I am expecting fresh ones from 105 of you other TCCers. It’s fun as always to see regulars like Cris and Norm being part if it, as well as being happy to see my student Jazmin doing these although I did not assign it (someone send her 5 #4life points!).

Whew, this is even too much to write up! And I did not even mention creating the video for and running a ds06 show for class 4 hours earlier.

The closing part was setting up a 5 step challenge for TCCers to create a ds106 blog, sign it up for ds106, try some assignments, do a few daily creates, and stand by for what comes online in May, 2013–

ds106 zone

I do not really want people to get MAD, I want them to get ds106 CREATIVE.

Thanks again to Bert Kimura for the invitation to speak at TCC!

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Hallelujah!!! I’m in a MOOC with 85,000 people on Coursera (shallow, broadcast and sterile) and another online course with 6 people (intimate, close and social). Not hard to guess which one has meaning and depth! I’M AN INDIVIDUAL! MY LEARNING HAS VALUE!

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