Email to UMW Online Section of ds106

My fire and brimstone warning email to the students of the online version of ds106 at UMW. I’m looking forward to this course, but I wanted to establish both the amount of work it will require, the fact their are almost 200 other folks who they will be work alongside of who having nothing to do with UMW, and finally remind them that if they are concerned about maintaining their own webhost, working in the open, and dedicating some serious time to this course, they might want to jump ship now. But if they don;t jump ship, well then, hang that ds106 Jolly Roger 🙂

Hello and welcome to the online version of Digital Storytelling (CPSC 106, section 4).

I wanted to take a moment to quickly orientate you all in regards to how this course will be run over the next fifteen weeks.

Let me start by saying this course will probably be unlike most courses you have taken thus far in your school career, and that is not because it will be held entirely online—for it is quite likely in this day and age some of you have taken an online course before. What is different about ds106 (my nickname for the course) is that you will not only be asked, but required, to narrate your process of learning over the course of the semester. You will be required to purchase and manage your own domain and web hosting space, and you will be expected to create a series of online identities across several web services (including YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, delicious, Google Documents, etc.), and regularly update your own web space where you will be installing, designing, and customizing your own blog. More specifically, you will be asked to use these spaces to create digital narratives both individually and collaboratively over the course of the semester—so please be prepared to work together.

Also, it is very important to keep in mind that a lion’s share of the course work and grade will be focused around the regular updating of your own blog as well as commenting on the blogs of your classmates. I can not stress strongly enough how essential both blogging and commenting are to your success is this course. If you foresee any issue with either of these activities—particularly with doing them openly—I recommend you reconsider taking this course.

One other issue that comes up again and again with this course is the time commitment. We will be creating a variety of narratives across a wide range of media, experimenting with everything from digital photography to digital audio to web video. These forms are often quite complicated and time consuming, and while the students who have taken this class in previous semesters enjoyed the process tremendously, they almost all noted it demands a significant amount of time. If you are taking a large number of credits or some particularly difficult classes in other disciplines this semester, you may want to reconsider taking this course. What’s more, if you took this class as a 100-level filler and expect to get by with minimal work or engagement, you will quickly realize that it’s far more than that—and the dangerous part of the course is you will greatly enjoy the work. Don’t be seduced! At any rate, consider this all fair warning from the very beginning–a “you’ve been warned.”

The course site will be located at Please go there and register for the site, noting that you are part of the UMW CPSC 106 Section 4 course (the online section) during the registration process. if you have any problems registering let me know.

Something to keep in mind about that course site is that it will include the posts of 100s of students from both UMW and beyond. All of whom will submit to it regularly, and you may find this a rather unique course in this regard as well. DS106 is being taken by 100s of people around the world for free—free because they are not getting credit for the class like you are from UMW. Your work as a class will be filtered into a particular section of the course site, but you will see examples of the various assignments that are submitted by people from a wide range of experience, interests, and cultures—most of whom have no association with UMW whatsoever. This is in many ways a microcosm of the web, we will not be working within a siloed learning management System, rather we will be doing our business out on the open web. If this is concern, then you have yet another reason to reconsider taking the course.

This course is designed to get you to both think about and interact within the digital landscapes and networks that everywhere surround us. Narratives and storytelling provide the frame we need for exploring and experimenting with emerging forms of creative expression in the digital realm as well as means for interrogating the digital environments we are increasingly inhabiting. To this end you will be asked to steward your own website, and one of your first assignments will be to purchase your own domain and establish your own webhost—and by extension your own digital identity, but more on this shortly.

In the meantime, be sure to register for the course site here ( sometime tomorrow.

Finally, and most importantly, I would ask all of you to meet with me for a brief, in-person orientation about the course tomorrow night (Monday, January 10th) at 6 PM in duPont 215. if you can not make this meeting I expect that you will email me sometime tomorrow explaining why.

Best regards,
Jim Groom

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3 Responses to Email to UMW Online Section of ds106

  1. Alan Levine says:

    I’d like to see a few hundred people show up for orientation. If I was 1 or 2 states away, I’d be in my car now

  2. No matter the outcome. I am proud to be a part of this. Thanks.

  3. Reverend says:

    I’m pretty pissed neither of you will be there tonight. 🙂

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