ds106 field notes #1

Blogging some very rough “live field notes” as I continue my micro-ethnography on ds106

What is ds106?

  • ds106 is a connectivist-informed ‘open course on digital storytelling’, originating and currently running (in Spring 2020) at University of Mary Washington.
  • As it is mostly public, with each student having their own blog which is fed into “The ds106 Flow“, you can participate by commenting or connecting your own blog into the flow.
  • ‘#ds106 is #4life’…

First of all, in ds106, there are multiple levels of participation- but most importantly, it is designed so you can pick and choose the when and where. We expect NO APOLOGIES for not being able to participate when other parts of life intrude. There is no concept in ds106 of “dropping out” c.f. Groom, Jim (2010-present), “ds106 is #4life”. (‘How to be an Open Participant in ds106‘)

ds106 is many things, a course and a community. It is ongoing all the time.

Initial impressions of ds106

ds106 is a huge active community. While it originated from the Digital Storytelling course at University of Mary Washington, and is running there this semester, there are numerous offshoots and links – both with ‘open participants’ such as myself and with other university courses such as Kansas State University’s Digital Literacy. As the History of ds106 page states:

  • This course community began at the University of Mary Washington in Spring of 2010 when Jim Groom re-imagined the way the Computer Science Course in Digital Storytelling, CPSC 106, might be taught.

    Since Jim Groom blogged about ds106 as an open and online experiment on December 7, 2010, this site has aggregated and archived 84032 blog posts created by its participants.

There are various components and ways for ‘open participants’ (and students on the university course) to engage. These include the assignment bank and various challenges, including the ‘The Daily Create‘:

Clearly, it is not possible for me to focus on the whole community, particularly given the numerous networks and components. Inspired by danah boyd (2008: 29), I began by focusing very broadly on the ds106 ‘culture’, allowing my observations and interactions to ‘reveal new questions’.

In aiming to focus my very small scale micro-ethnography, one element particularly interests me – the ds106radio. I found myself asking questions such as:

  • What is the effect of this on the ‘community’ of the course?
  • Who manages it, how and why?
  • How does this link to the course/community?
  • Is there a relationship between sound and ‘community’?

I plan for this to be my focus, and this week coincided with the introduction of the radio station to the course, during a week on audio storytelling.

What is ds106radio?

‘DS106radio is a freeform, live streaming, community radio station where anyone can submit or broadcast their work, share ideas and help make the web safe for democracy’ (DS106radio)

Notes on ds106radio

Radio shows this week

  • This week, there were four one hour evening shows hosted by the tutor Paul Bond, with live tweeting throughout on #ds106 / #ds106radio.

  • There was a radio documentary played for discussion, as well as students hearing (and tweeting about) their own radio bumpers and commenting on aspects of the radio documentary.

Having joined as an open participant this week and connected a feed from my blog to the ds106 flow, I had the choice whether or not participate in some activities. Inspired by Tim Ingold who, in this podcast, said…

‘We don’t make studies of people, we study with them and learn from them.’

…as well as boyd (2008: 29), who advises to…

‘Get into the field, hang out, observe, document, question, analyse. Ethnography is about participant observation or deep hanging out; to observe a culture, you must build rapport, be present, and participate.’

…I chose to get involved and posted one of the audio assignments – a short radio bumper for ds106radio.

I look forward to some more ‘deep hanging out’ (boyd 2008: 29) with ds106 and particularly ds106radio over the coming weeks!

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