(a copy of this just sent to my UMW students)

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by David Reeves

Attention ds106 Bootcampers!

At ease. Despite how overwhelmed you might feel 4 days into this class, let me assure you that you are all fine, and either on track or ahead of the progress of past students. This email, which threatens to be long, will hopefully sort out some communication issues, clarify the assignment expectations, and orient you to what I am expecting.


I send these emails via the current registration list in Banner; the problem I was seeing was that when student added themselves to this class the system never told me “Hey Juanita is Here”. It’s not like I can see a new face in a classroom. So any student who added late missed important emails and were likely left wondering, “What do I do?”. Yesterday, I thought the solution was to use Canvas announcements to send messages, since they would be archived there, but the word back is some people don’t get these and others have trouble opening them.

So I am reverting to emailing, but will be putting copies of these emails in Canvas just so they are there.


The stuff you have to do, not too many readings, but sometimes videos or audio, and the things you are expected to do, will be spelled out in a blog post published the Monday of each week; these are always found at http://ds106.us/category/the-site/spring-2013-assignments/ and will also appear in Canvas as an announcement.

Each will detail what I am looking for, and there maybe be at least 3-5 or more blog posts you may be posting each week to show and share your work. At the bottom of the weekly announcement witll be a bulleted list of items I expect to see in what we call a Weekly Reflection Blog Post .This is what I want you to include in a write up that nto only lists or links what you did, but includes your commentary, your personal reflection on what you did. This is to be published on your blog, and the URL for the published reflection is the one you need to enter into Canvas to get graded that week.

Now let me divert a bit and get on my pulpit.

Before coming to UMW most of you have been well conditioned by 12 years of schooling which focuses on doing X to get a grade and pass. You learn how to find out what is expected and thats where you aim. Most of you are Seniors or Juniors, and you know how the university class game is played. Almost the same.

This class is different. Yes, there are grades and points and requirements and percentages. I cannot get around that. But if you want to play this Teacher Sets The Bar And Student Hops that far game, to me that is just average. And you are adults,and I want to treat you that way. For everything you are asked to do in this class, you are welcome to change the interpretation, to do it differently (but not skip it) if you justify your thought process in your writing and show me how it accomplishes a creative goal. I want you to push yourself beyond the typical bounds of assignments and doing X to get a grade. I want you to question the rules, question me, question yourself.

This class is a lot about creating digital media, but that is not the end goal. You can create crappy media, but if you can write about your ideas, connections, and reflections in your blog, you can ace this class. So when I ask you to write something, I am not going to ask for 5 paragraphs or some formula. The writing here is not the kind you do on essay exams, I am not looking to be impressed. I am looking for each of you to fiind your own way of expression in your blog- it is a completely different writing space then you get elsewhere in school. It is yours. Make it yours.

Let’s start with this week. I asked you to do the video of Tuesday’s Daily Create. When many students start this class this is how they write up a video.

Video Assignment.

This is my video

[ video inserted here, but more often then not they flub the embed ]

I do not even care what is in this video, if this is all you write, you have failed. First of all, think of how advertising and newspaper headlines work. MAKE INTERESTING TITLES! Be funny, ironic, make it a question. The title is the thing that people glance at, its how your blog posts are going to be listed on the ds106 site and in Google search results. MAKE THE MOST OF BEING CREATIVE IN TITLES. Please don’t bore me with lame titles. They need not always be funny, but at least descriptive.

Second. I am looking in your blog posts for more than just a hunk of media. Use your writing to provide context. What was the inspiration? Where did the idea come from? What was the idea part that you discarded? What is ti connected too (I am looking for you to hyperlink).

More than that, if someone came across this blog post all by its own on the internet, they do not even know what it is in reference too. For any assignment, you have to cite what it is for, describe it, and link to it. Snd talk about how you made it. What software, tools, methods? What media did you use?

Think of the media as not being the whole story. Think of a video, an audio, an image as being another word or sentence in your writing. Give it context. Follow it with commentary.

Now do not just fill in a bunch of meaning less padding words because I am asking for it. But I want all of you to work on your writing, the way you share and describe your creative process.

This will take time, but I am looking as much at how you tell the story of your media production as the media itself.

And keep in mind, that these are your blog posts, and you should publish there whatever interests you. Or create a new blog. You own an entire domain. You are creating the web rather than just being a couch surfer of it.

Daily Creates

Daily means a new one comes out every day. I am not expecting you to do them every day (I think you should want to) I will specify each week a minimum number I am looking for. This week is one. There is no formula for extra credit, but when I see students take on the challenges of doing them because it interests them, not because its for points, well, it is noted.

The point of these is not to just hand out assignments. I believe strongly that a regular practice of creating is like exercise to keep your creative mind in peak shape. And what the daily create does is push you to try things you might not like to do. I am not good at drawing. But I am getting better because I try new drawing activities.

The Daily Creates should not be big productions. In fact, they should not even take editing, they should be one photo, one take with the video camera or audio. I usually spend maybe 15-20 minutes max a day doing these.

Next week you will be asked to do 4 of these. It clutters things up if you make a blog post for each; what I suggest is to start a blog post for the first one, and keep it as s draft. Add to it for the other Daily Creates you do that week. At the end of the week, you can publish one blog post that has a weeks worth of Daily Creates.

That is how I would do it.

Do you remember my earlier rant about rules? If you want to write a blog post for each Daily Create, go ahead. It’s your blog.

Don’t you think a great title for one is “Daily Create January 17?” I hope not.

The Weekly Videos

I was excited to see four new students show up in Tuesday for the first “ds106 show”. I broadcast these on Tuesdays at 4:30pm via a Google Hangout – you are not required to be there in person each week (but if you want to I would love to see you)! It is not a lecture. It will be recorded and available on the web site at http://ds106.us/category/the-site/the-show/ I will be bringing in some guest experts, and we will discuss things that may inform your work. Watching them is not required.

You will be required, to join me for at least 2 different ones a semester and help as a “co host: and review and comment on the work that week. I will outline more of the requirements next week.

In addition, because we do so many new things in software and web tools, there is a lot to “show”. I am going to use the same Google Hangout Thursday nights (starting tonight) at 9:00 PM as an open lab. I will be doing demos of the same things I am asking you to do for assignments. If you want to drop in and ask questions, great. Otherwise, I am recording these as well as a resource. You can find these at

The Grand Finale

That does not happend until May 3. This class feels like a lot, and it is. But you will be rewarded in what you get out of it as much as you put in. If you are keeping up, writing about your work, making the effort, you will likely earn an A.

And lastly, if you have not figured out, this class changes quickly. It’s very much that airplane built in the air


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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.

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