ds106 Across the Curriculum

In another lifetime I worked as a Writing Fellow through the CUNY Graduate Center. What writing fellows did (and still do, I imagine) was work with a variety of faculty from numerous disciplines to integrate writing into their course. So, for instance, I worked with both an Economics professor and a Film professor at the College of Staten Island (CSI) to integrate a variety of writing assignments, workshops, low stakes exercises, as well as help them think about assessment—oh my! At CSI this initiative had a specific name, it was called Writing Across the Curriculum, a.k.a WAC. In fact, WAC was a much broader effort that had national, if not international, reach and was a way of making writing central to the reflection process in all disciplines.

Now, this is a model that in many ways makes perfect sense for integrating digital media media across the curriculum (DMAC?). This is something Martha Burtis has been talking about ever since we started teaching ds106 in tandem during the Spring, and I absolutely believe this is a model that UMW’s DTLT should pursue rigorously over the next year or so. Work with faculty from around the university to integrate digital media assignments into their course. A few requirements off the top of my head would be they share the process of designing these assignments, they consider encouraging students to submit their own assignments to an assignment repository, and they model the assignment by doing it themselves during the semester. I was thinking we could get the Teaching Center to provide some incentives, workshops, and community support and basically have the two centers work together to see it through. I particularly like this approach because it is just one assignment to start, the stakes are low, and the possibilities for turning faculty on to the creative potential of new media is limitless.

Fact is, I think ds106 has laid the groundwork for us in UMW’s DTLTto start supporting faculty with specific disciplinary possibilities, using the platforms of internet radio (read ds106radio), streaming video (read dtlttoday), as well as UMW Blogs as community amplifiers for these assignments.

I have to give a special shout out to Jonathan Blake whose email and video (included below) reinforced how this approach might have some legs.

Hi Dr. Groom [for the record, I am not a Ph.D.],

I took your class last semester. This semester I had to create a short economics project and I just wanted to let you know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it like this without having taken your class. I used everything I learned from yours. So, thanks!!!

If you want to see it, it’s here:


What’s more, the recent NERCOMP conference that seemed to focus on digital storytelling and digital media integration into the curriculum just reinforces that this is not only timely but important to approach it as a wider programmatic, disciplinary approach to rethinking the curriculum by working directly with faculty on re-imagining some element of their existing courses.

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5 Responses to ds106 Across the Curriculum

  1. Luke says:

    I’ve been thinking about the WAC/WID origins of platforms like yours and ours for some time, and have taken to starting presentations with a discussion of WAC/WID, the Visible Knowledge Project, and OER/networked learning as the pedagogical foundations for the curricular innovation that we’re trying to instigate and promote. “Composing” with digital media is simply the logical extension of the multimodal/varied stakes ethos at the core of WAC/WID, given the lowered barriers to production and connection that we enjoy. It has the benefit of offering students who struggle to write the opportunity to find another mode of engagement with an idea. And, a dirty little secret is that time and again we’ve found that once students engage with with an idea via producing digital work, it becomes much easier for them to write about that idea.

  2. Reverend says:


    Brilliant, that’s exactly right, and you frame the idea so much more sharply and eloquently than I did in this post. This is something I would really like to push as a way of moving past “get a blog” or “use a blog” in your class—and get to incorporate digital media into the curriculum and use the publishing space as a way to share, network, and reflect on what you have created. These platforms are mature enough that we can really start pushing the next steps on both a deeper and wider level at once. Thanks for the comment here, Luke, it helps me think about this in even richer ways.

  3. Giulia says:

    Yes! I’m drinking this up. I love where your thinking is going with this. Seems so natural and obvious but institutionally a real challenge, I know!

    If anyone can do it, DTLT (& CUNY Baruch) can.

  4. Jim & Luke,

    I agree with both of you and how you frame the idea of DMAC. The dirty little secret of Luke’s is what we live for in our classes: leverage one side of the equation to get students involved. I’d love to explore this further, so I’m drinking this up too, like Julia and listen… I may even go as far as propose this idea as a common background for our new project STEMmED II’s course redesign here at Sagrado. Let’s talk.

  5. flappy bird says:

    I concur with both of you regarding the way in which you describe DMAC. The filthy little secret of Luke’s is precisely what motivates us to teach in the first place: utilize one aspect of the equation to engage students. I’d like to delve deeper into this, so I, too, am consuming it like Julia and attentively listening to it… I might even propose this concept as a unifying framework for the redesign of STEMmED II courses at Sagrado as part of our new initiative. Let us converse.

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