No it’s not that show.

Netnarr 5 displayed in the style of Babylon 5 title screen, and atop a field of stars.
Not available on any TV channel

But yes, I am back co-teaching Network Narratives with Mia Zamora for a group of intrepid graduate students at Kean University. For the full (of something) story on this adventure, you could tune into the podcast we did a few weeks ago with Terry Greene and Anne-Marie Scott for Check the O.L.: Liner Notes from Groundbreaking Online Learning

As usual this class is both planned in terms of our usual “spine” approach but also has much that evolves along the way.

Last year, our theme was speculative fiction via the “Net Mirror“, with the idea of the internet being the Black Mirror like device that we should wonder about when the devices are off.

In our discussions a few weeks ago, Mia suggested the idea that ties into other work she has been involved with of the Post Pandemic University. I admit my first reaction was a mild “meh” – is this going to be academics defending the sacred institution? Is it too narrow in terms of all that we endured in 2020 and have yet to see in 2021?

But then I thought of the experiences our students are going through, as well as my own step-daughter who is in her first year of a Masters program. These are people right now in the Pandemic University. What “normal” can they compare with to possibly see a new one when they have not experienced?

I see our students on the front lines of watching the systems do way more than pivot. So they are ideal to be thinking about what the future might be for higher education, more so than me whose experience is rooted in the old.

So this year’s NetNarr is cast still in the Net Mirror framework, but focusing on PPU- Post Pandemic University. You can take the stylistic entry point (that’s all CSS text effect I found in CodePen) via

This redirects to the new site that you can also just click your way over.

Like last year, I set the course up maybe in a slight step back from the Connected Courses syndicate in via Feed WordPress from separate blogs formula. Our Kean students all have authoring accounts on the course site.

As much as I still hold to the value of students writing in their own space, I wonder some if that notion overshadows just the value of students reflective writing. Isn’t there something to be said about writing side by side in the same place?

But we still have syndication running- I set up a feed to publish our course site posts to the main NetNarr hub which means we can still invite open participants (a.k.a. Sarah, Wendy, and Kevin who always show up) to blog along. That works.

We have tweets corralled under the #netnarr hashtag and it’s already quite lit up from our students and open participants (just watch the conversation visualized via Martin Hawksey’s twitter tags genius). There is also quite a series of guests we plan to have as Studio Visits with our first one last week where Laura Gibbs provided dynamic intro to microfiction.

You may bark at me because we are not offering these as wide open, nor are recording them. This is a reaction as well to the times we are in, and wanting to make these experiences focused on our students. If you really want to join a future one, just let us know.

What are we doing? The Summary gives a sense of our major themes, each one being a 2 week focus that includes readings and studio visits, but as well, discussions led each week by a different student– we are calling them “pathfinders” this year.

Each week Mia posts in her side of the announcements the details on the class activities and what is being asked for in weekly reflections. My half is aiming to introduce each week some creative activities that we ask the students to to explore our theme and findings, so that their weekly reflection includes ideas expressed in words and ideas expressed in media.

My “gimmick” is going to be each week making a bit of a message created in a different media. I already did the easiest, a video (but I tried to suggest subverting the expected video form) and this week, as a companion to the microfiction writing introduced by Laura Gibbs, is doing microstorytelling in five photos, using Five Card Flickr. We plan to have students for some time to do some DS106 Daily Creates as a means to stretch their media skills. We had run our own Daily Digital Alchemies in the past but I felt like being in a larger pool of participants of DS106 would be more valuable.

I have another idea I hope to unleash soon as sort of a modern version of Frank Warren’s Post Secret project which is still going strong after its birth in 2005.

What you can really do to help is (beyond the usual twitter stuff) is to read and comment on our students reflections (we are calling them Field Notes). We have a really strong, expressive, thoughtful and from I can see already talented writers in the mix.

How should they project the future higher education experience? I participated in two webinar discussions last week that had the words “post pandemic university” a descriptors. but frankly what I heard is people talking about [important issues] of the current systems, as they try to change. Or maybe the Post Pandemic time frame is months from now.

I’d like our students to scan farther. Not into flying car and spaceship future, but a nudge beyond the mess we call now.

I’m rather excited to be in the fifth revolution of NetNarr, especially without knowing exactly where it is going.

Join us online at or in The Twitters (and even in Annotation Space – I always harbor hopes of fostering a narrative place in annotations, there’s more we can do there than just comment on articles).

What is the new PPU gonna be? Look into the mirror.

Featured Image: Screenshot of the animated NetNarr entry at which with background image based on portion of cracked glass CC0 Pixrepo image (darkened) superimposed on Pixabay image of surveillance camera by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke 

If this kind of stuff has value, please support me by tossing a one time PayPal kibble or monthly on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!
Profile Picture for CogDog The Blog
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. Last Fall term in my WR 122 class, I used all pandemic related materials: the rhetoric of protest, corporate rhetoric, COVID themes in pop music like 21 Pilots “Level of Concern,” ending with a section on the theme of fake news about the vaccine and deconstructing videos such as the famous one by Dr. Christianne Northrop, one of the top ten disseminates of fake vaccine news on the internet. My students had nothing but appreciative things to say about the timeliness of this work.

    I had even more cranked up for the Winter term, but due to COVID, ironically, our enrollments were down 40%, and even though I’m at the top of the seniority list for part-timers, I lost work.

    So the COVID topic is not even remotely “Meh”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *