cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Horia Varlan

Not the first, not the last, but I humbly claim being dead wrong about ds106 not getting the MOOC respect.

We get tons of it.

Check it out, after 7 hours, the DS106: The Open Online Community of Digital Storytellers Kickstarter campaign, launched around 5pm today, is closing in on half its goal:

What the bleep is going on? Read the site, watch the video. Pretty simple- ds106 has been chugging along on a self hosted web server, and with all the burst of activity this year- 7 universities participating in DS106, more than 1200 open online participants that have generated over 18,000 posts- the server had to be moved from a shared host to a big rack in the clouds.

While ds106 was born here at the University of Mary Washington, we are asking for support, because it belongs to more than us. And its a fascinating experiment in whether an open community will support its own infrastructure.

Hats off in a big way to Tim Owens for not only developing the idea to use Kickstarter, but running with it the full way from conceptualizing, designing, and even directing Jim Groom on camera (“how ya doing” he says to the server 😉 I’ve been around the crew at DTLT a few weeks now, and the pace of things happening here is just under light speed. Tim, Jim, Martha, Andy are a real powerhouse- and this new kid is hoping to catch up.

I’ve been very flip to MOOCs but seriously, stepping back, all of them are bringing value to the DIY education space- no matter the structure, they are presenting opportunities that were not there before. Even if no one yells “4Life” in the AI course, it is still an open space to learn. In fact, in all of this, it is not what the MOOCs do or provide, but what people bring to the MOOC.

So bring on more MOOCs of all flavors, and stand them up against the rising tide of opportunists who want to cash in on the interest in openness.

Openness is as openness does.

Say what you want about ds106, the lines in Giulia’s epic art (which is the design of the kickstarter t-shirt, and this, the only way to get one is to pledge) gets to the heart of ds106, this is a call not of branding ds106, but of claiming what is free, and open from the washers.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

We need to think differently about our culture. This is not simply augmenting our experience with technology. Claim your space. Review. Remix. Make Meaning. Make Art, Damnit!

MOOCs 4Life!

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at 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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Man, I love all the support this campaign is getting sooo quickly. DS106 has been growing so exponentially over just a few short years, and after a great idea and impressive video, people want to keep the greatness running along. It’s a beautiful thing. Creativity just blooms in a community as warm and supportive as this. Good stuff.

  2. Hi Alan – congrats on hitting your target!!

    I want to make sure that my thoughts are clear on DS106 – I rarely fail to mention it when I’m taking moocs. I have, possibly to your or Jim’s chagrin, lumped DS106 with the open online courses that I, Stephen, Dave Cormier, David Wiley, Alec Couros, and others have been involved with. I try to get at the distinction between open courses run by people who do it primarily for fun (ds106, CCK, LAK) vs those who do it to develop a company (Udacity, Coursera):

    Jim, in his talk at Kansas State, appears to lump our version of openness with those of Udacity, etc. It seems that he (and you on your scaling for lizards post) feel that scale is the thing that separates what you’re doing versus what we are doing.

    Scale is a funny metric. It is exciting, on one hand to have 2400 people sign up for a course (or 111 people to donate $5k plus via kickstarter :))…and to then use those numbers as a way of assigning value to what we are doing for free. On the other hand, the numbers really don’t matter – they are at best a proxy for validating what we’re passionate about.

    I’ve said before that I’m excited to see others dive into the open course space. I’ve learned much from watching what you’ve done with ds106. I’m impressed/humbled by the energy and passion. You may not prefer to be labeled as a mooc (in order to preserve the ds106 coolness factor)…but you’re certainly contributing to the evolution of my thinking in how open courses can be run.

    What really counts, for me at least, is when I have a chance to visit learners who have been involved in moocs that I’ve helped organize. I’ve had the huge honour of meeting folks from China, Africa, Brazil, India, etc. who have taken an open course and been given an opportunity to interact with peers from around the world. They were able to access a learning experience that they wouldn’t have been able to participate in with a traditional model. It’s very humbling to have individuals talk about how an open course help to change their views (and practices) of education.

    from my end, lots of respect flows toward ds106. And I absolutely love that the community has responded by scaling money your way :).

    1. Very true that you have clearyl drawn the lines between the truly free MOOCs (including ds106 and yours) and the pay dudes. I was a bit shoecked when I saw the structure of Udemy-pay to view videos no matter how good is not the kind of learning you and et al have been involved with.

      And Connectivism 2008 really did open the door as a model.

      What counts is real openness and learning.

      Love for all of those MOOCs

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