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While the MOOC Bus Heads Off, A Modest Proposal for ds106

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

Universities better get on the MOOC bus, because it is leaving the station…

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

You don’t have to ride the bus off the cliff. There is a safe haven of reprieve from the madness called.. you know it… ds106

The most recent class, a 5 week summer class at UMW, doing ds106 finished a month ago. Yet you can still find:

What do you call a course that has this much activity when there is not even a course running?

Try… ds106

But here is the thing– there is no course at UMW scheduled for Fall 2013 that will be ds106. This happened before, in Fall 2011, and Michael Branson Smith ran a York College CUNY course that kept the pace going.

And if you want to run a “ds106-ish” course and use the site to aggregate yours and your students blogs, then you can still put a request in. IN the last few years, classes from York College, Kansas State University, Kennesaw State University. University of Michigan, Temple University Japan, SUNY Cortland, and Jacksonville State University have done so– see the links from the ds106 History.

And this underlies one of the strengths and mysteries of ds106- there is actually no single ds106 course, it is many, and none, in the same overlapping space. Does your MOOC do that? Even with $43 million of new chump change?

But here is the thing I have kept spinning in the back of the dog brain– for someone who comes across ds106, it is a bit, if not a lot, bewildering. Where do they start? Where is the syllabus? Where is the teacher? What the heck is going on here? I tried to create some starting points in the ds106 Quick Start Guide.

So here is my dog haired idea for Fall 2013- run a leaderless open section of ds106 for anyone that wants to join along. I don’t have time (nor am getting paid once cent to work on ds106) to be a teacher, what if we crowd sourced that, kind of the way Alec Couros did for ETMOOC?

Here’s what I am thinking we could do to create a ds106 course without a teacher…

  • We set up weekly assignments based on the last full semester class taught at UMW, these can be set to be published as schedule posts for late August through December 2013. There is a proven and time tested schedule.
  • Interested people can do as much or little as they want, they network via twitter, syndicate their ds106 blogs into the ds106 site.
  • We set up a signup sheet for people who have done ds106 before to be “guides” for a week, which means just announcing the stuff, doing the work that week, helping people with questions, or adding new things to the mix which might help. All you commit for is to help guide a week for a topic you are interested in or have experience to offer.
  • I might suggest that people who have done ds106 before bring along a colleague as a mentee, or maybe a group, and coordinate your own communciations/feedback/discussion/feed support. But mainly, do your part to bring at least one new person into the ds106 fold.

This can be done with little overhead- the syllabus is there, the content, the course structure. All we need is you.

I am NOT going to run this, just offering to ask you to help us push this bus into motion.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Bruce McAdam

What a grand experiment, to see if we can have an online course run without a teacher, Harvard super prof or not. Isnt this a refreshing change from the smell of MOOC poop?

Who wants to play?

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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. I am in! I finish Open University Module end of August and not doing another until next year because I wanted to play here with you all 🙂 let’s all run a course that is not a course and teach it without any teachers…though I do hope Dr Oblivion may make an appearance!

  2. Great idea! I want to play! I can do one week, even though I’m quite new. Maybe an audio week, as that’s what I did the most of. And I’ll recruit at least one person to join.

    Now, we should start a doc for planning so ppl can sign up for weeks, etc. google doc? Either pad? Sthg else?

    1. Could we use the DS817 community on G+ for something? Glad to moderate that within #headlessDs106 if it would be of use. I have no idea what I am signing up for but I love it already 🙂

        1. I see a lot of older people offering to help–not one kid amongst them. I for one, don’t like Twitter much because of the truncation of thought. I do not have attention deficit. I prefer Google + because it allows for more complete discussion and contains the conversation and its documents where I can see and deal with them.

  3. Oh! I’d like to play too! I hope to serve up some #ds106radio love to the good folks doing the #spiritofland course in the fall. Would love to help out during the radio week.

  4. Shades of Peter Elbow, “Writing Without a Teacher”! Sounds like Mariana might be the one to head us up by moderating a DS 106 G+ group ’cause the bus needs SOME kind of driver and Alan and Jim have specifically said, “it ain’t me, babe.” I can take a video week, whatever that means, or team up with someone else.
    How deep is the Daily Create? Mariana, that is something we could all work on together this summer, so there is enough gas in that tank.

    1. Can the Daily Create list be restarted from number 1? Of course, continuing the numbers so Alan’s 90th birthday Daily Create comes true. I think it would be ok for the old-time players to make new responses to old tasks, and they would be new to many of us. Making up daily creates is a creative task itself, so we could all continue to contribute regardless.

  5. This sounds like “can’t miss” proposition. I’ll try to do some assignments.

    But I truly wish Dr. Oblivion would see fit to give a guest lecture or two.

  6. I would really love to be part of this, but this is my first contact with ds106 so I have no idea what to do. I have the “Quick Start Guide” page, but I think I will need more. I’ll look at the # on Twitter and see if I can figure how to join whatever group forms out of this proposal.

    1. Annette,

      Welcome to ds106! I see a great future for you here…

      To start, you can try today’s Daily Create at It is a simple writing one today, a cut-up versification from the latest news. A good way to break the ice.

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