One of the most difficult things about ds106 is talking about it to someone who hasn’t experienced it. And that’s not because it is some insider “you had to be there” mentality, but beause it is multifarious and protean. It can be many things to many people, and it is constantly changing based on the people enagaged in it at any given time. It might also be difficult for me because I am so close to it in a lot of ways. Nonetheless, I have given a number of presentations wherein I try and contextualize it as part of an ethos of open and experimentation that has been a guiding principle of the teaching and learning philosophy at UMW’s DTLT. At the same time, ds106 is also much more than one edtech group’s philosophy, it’s something informed and continually shaped by a community beyond UMW. I guess that is why it’s both so interesting and hard to explain all at once.
Nonetheless, I think the best explaination I’ve heard of the developing story that is ds106 was produced by Brian Bennett for his “Chalkstar to Rockstar” podcast series. Brian was part of the ds106zone this Summer, and the audio show he worked in as part of a larger group about the existential crisis that is ds106 was some of the best audio ever produced for ds106, and his skills are getting even sharper. I thought the audio was going to play as a rather straight interview he did with Alan Levine and I, but it’s not that at all. Rather, it’s a deftly edited narrative that provides a powerful look at the various course experiments within a larger creative community that’s organized around a driving ethos of openness, collaboration, and fun. If you find yourself trying to wrap your head around ds106, I highly recommend taking 20 minutes and listening to the audio linked below, it is brilliant.