Three students in Jeff McClurken’s #infoage course, Ashley Lightburn, Joe Calpin, and Caitlyn Murphy, put together a ten minute documentary about ds106. I am obviously excited by the idea that students think this course is interesting enough to make a documentary about, and what they have put together has some amazing moments. But given this is a history class and the record of ds106 is being reflected in this documentary, I want to add my feedback to the work. You can see the post with both the documentary and the bibliography/notes on Ashley Lightburn’s blog here.
First, Ashley writes that Alan Dean started ds106 and I took over the additional sections of the class, which is not actually the case. The class was dreamed up by Jennifer Pollock-Wahl, and I believe she taught it once as a Summer class in 2009—and possibly again as a class in Fall 2009. After that it was taught by both Alan Dean and myself in the 2009/2010 academic year. I first taught the class in the Spring 2010, and I believe that was either Alan Dean’s first or second time teaching the class.
Also, Alan Dean gets a lot of screentime in regards to what ds106 might mean, but in effect Alan Dean never taught ds106, he taught CPSC 106. His coursework was all handled in BlackBoard and none of it is apparent for anyone else to see, what’s more he did not teach an open course—which is very much at the heart of ds106. So including him in this documentary without making any of this clear makes it seem as if he was part of the evolution of ds106 which is actually not the case at all.
What’s more, before the Spring 2011 semester Martha Burtis and I approached Alan to let him know how we would be teaching ds106 that semester as a means to both let him know our plan as well as to invite him to play along, to which he respectfully declined. In essence, whether or not Alan Dean believes our approach “focuses too much on the technology” misses the larger point that his voice would have been best played as one that didn’t necessarily agree with the whole open course, transmedia exploration approach of storytelling in ds106—which is not to be confused with CPSC 106. Given this I think a narration or some kind of clarification of where Alan Dean fits in the narrative of ds106 is necessary.
What’s more, the very life blood of the course, the open, online part where anyone can play along was only alluded to in this documentary. I understand the limits of time, but I can think of about 2 minutes that could have been edited out to talk about what is probably the most essential element of ds106.
Finally, what exactly is the story of this documentary? What does it say about ds106? It seems like a lot of interesting vignettes, and it certainly works well as a 10 minute trailer but the problem with ds106 is that it is open, online and complex. And research and attention to so many details would need to be paid to it to do it justice. Why not talk to me or Martha or anyone else involved from the beginning to get a clear sense of the class so that some of the obvious points of confusion could have been cleared up easily? Seems to be a little research and question asking up front would have made this a far better representation of the open, online experience that is ds106.
Apart from this, I really did love it 🙂