On Wednesday, October 14th I will be giving a presentation round Digital identity for the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN), in part because they are all being given their own domain and web hosting as a means to develop a web-facing sense presence online. Their blog post on the initiative says it far better than I ever could:
At the annual seminar one thing we try to encourage members to think about is their own open practice. GO-GN is not just about researching into open education, but also researching in an open manner. One aspect of this is in developing your online identity. This is probably more relevant for early career researchers because they are often moving between roles and institutions. Having a central space online that is your independent profile can help raise your profile and maintain an identity beyond institutional roles.
To that end, Tim and I got to talking and I wanted to find a way to marry some of the work we’ve been doing exploring video streaming with an engaging way to present this talk. My keynotes are few and far between these days, so no reason I can start exploring and having fun again 🙂 Tim’s been using Twitch for his Reclaim Arcade pinball streams, and he threw out the idea of approaching the talk as if it was given by a Twitch stream, which is just another way to say online tweaker 🙂 I’m not so sure how familiar you are with the world of Twitch streamers, I have to admit to being an almost total noob. I was aware of the various gamer streamers my kids follow, but I had no idea ASMR was a thing until Tim clued me in. Wow!
And then there are the random streamers on Twitch that are just non-stop personalities that provide hours of content that can be anything from blowing up helium balloons for every 10 new subscribers to sharing unwatched home recorded VHS tapes with a community of people. The space is fascinating for all sorts of reasons, but what has become increasingly interesting for me at this particular moment is the sophisticated ways that these streamers are producing fairly complex, multi-source videos that twenty years ago would have required a full blown production house. It’s one thing to reclaim the written word from mainstream media, which was the power of the blog in many ways in the early 2000s, it’s quite another to reclaim the infrastructure of television networks. Back in 2011 or 2012 when the idea of Domain of One’s Own was ramping up at UMW, I remember Andy Rush suggesting the idea of a “Network of One’s Own” to describe the a multimedia branch of this project wherein you would not just post text, tweet, etc, but also start easily streaming more complex media as part of your teaching and learning agenda. It was blue sky 10 years ago, but I think that time has started to arrive and given the broader connotations of network, I am opting for a Stream of One’s Own 🙂 In fact, we saw the beginnings of these possibilities with ds106’s Summer of Oblivion, and it led to our ongoing video show DTLT Today which had over 110 episodes, but once we got an actual building and a state-of-the-art video studio and everything went to hell.
But all of this was still before streaming was ubiquitous, and while things were moving quickly within the gamer streaming communities on Twitch and Youtube, that was not the case for much of higher ed. That said, with the global shift to online learning over the past 6 months there has been a greater interest in applications that I would never have imagined I could have talked about with more than a select few faculty: OBS streaming software, video capture cards, streaming via Twitch, etc. You get the idea, there is a whole new dimension to teaching and learning online using streaming software, and while applications like Zoom, Whereby, WebEx, etc. might function as the next generation learning management system for video (with all the harm that comes along with that idea) the fact is making a compelling use of the medium will probably require a bit more than just a camera and a video conferencing platform. The idea of having access to a video streaming application like OBS as an online professor in the age of Zoom would be analogous to having PowerPoint for your lecture classroom. It allows a shared object of attention that integrates a dynamic space for highlighting points on the open web and beyond. Audio, video, and multimedia are all fair game, and you can become one with them on the stream as you are teaching through various shots and scenes.
I’ve been playing on ds106radio for months (years even) because I believe the same is true of that medium for higher ed, but with a bit less overhead (in terms of production and bandwidth) and untethered from the idea of having to be locked to your screen, which is attractive for many reasons. But if the visual dimension is a necessary element to demonstrate the subject matter then it makes sense that this will become a space for a host of instructors to explore. In fact, I think there is a huge opportunity to get interested faculty who want to move beyond the limits of out-of-the-box video conferencing software to get up and running with their own video production studio with about $500-$1000 of equipment and the free and open source software OBS.
So, all of this started out as a call for short videos from folks that find a creative way to tell the store of how they developed their online identity that I can share with the GO-GN folks in just over a week’s time. It can be a few minutes or just a few seconds—a Tik Tok if you will—wherein you creatively try and communicate the idea of what developing your digital identity has meant to you, and if you have time how and why you did it. Given the wall of text here I imagine no one will get to this paragraph, so I’ll try and make another, more abbreviated call out, but if you did read all the way through, thank you, and post a link to the video below, or send it to me directly at jimgroom_at_gmail.com.