The ds106 Kickstarter: We’re funded! Now what?

I haven’t even had time to process how unbelievably amazing the ds106 community is based on how fast the Kickstarter was funded (less than 24 hours!), when all of a sudden Michael Feldstein is making a call for bigger donations from LMS companies (and with a little prodding by @timmmmyboy Instructure stepped up and made an unbelievably generous promise of a pledge for $5,000). My mind is still reeling, and make no mistake about it, this project was funded by and for the community, and if more money is coming in I want all of us to think about how we might use it in a way that benefits everyone. So this post will do two simple things: 1) provide a few ideas of how we might use some of the extra money, and 2) ask for more ideas of how to use the money.

First, some ideas on how to use the money:

1) Custom development for FeedWordPress which currently handles all the syndication of over 500+ blogs. I think if we integrated this plugin more cleanly with BuddyPress and make the syndication of participants blog posts it would make the whole sign-up process for an open online class that much more streamlined. What’s more, I would love if it could automatically filter for posts tagged/labelled ds106 as well as auto-discover the author’s account/profile.  (maybe $1000 or $1500?)

2) Fund the ds106radio server for another year. Grant Potter has been sustaining that for too long, and we had some donations for a pledge drive for the Radio that squared us until this October, but why not seal that up for another year?  ($1000?)

3) Fund the ds106 server for 2 years rather than just 1. ($2800)

Image credit: larique's "Gardeners"

4) One of my dreams as the course gets bigger is to provide some specific focus and attention to the open, online students. So, perhaps some kind of ds106 coordinator? I’m not sure how that would look, or the details, but I would love to have a community gardener kinda like UBC has with their Wiki. (I imagine this cost here would depend, but anywhere from 2,000 – 20,000 I would think, and it doesn’t have to be one person.)

5) An instructor for the open/online students—why not? Maybe we could actually pay someone like Gardner Campbell or Bryan Alexander to teach an open, online section of ds106?

Image credit: Alan Levine's "Friendly Guy with an Axe"

Have them re-imagine their own iteration of the course from the ground up. How sick would that be? Also, who else would you want to see teach it? ($4,000 – $6,000? —I would love to see people earn more than our horrible adjunct wages 😉 )

As an aside, what I like about this is it takes into account that to teach something like ds106 demands a ton of time and energy, and that is what the institutions associated with ds106 are paying for now, and it’s critical. This option allows us to introduce someone from outside of those institutions to teach it—which is kinda of interesting.

6) A Makerbot Replicator: I would love to start integrating 3D printing design into ds106 in future semesters, this might be our chance! ($1749)

Second, your ideas on what to do with the extra funding
Anyway, those are just some ideas I was thinking about, none of this is in stone and I’m really not sure if much more money will come in, but with Instructure’s pledge we are up to almost $12,000 already and it only makes sense to let people know what we would be thinking about doing with any extra we get. But what is even more interesting to me is what you think we should do with anything above and beyond the initial pledge target, please let me know in the comments below.

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24 Responses to The ds106 Kickstarter: We’re funded! Now what?

  1. Tim Owens says:

    I mentioned this in a separate blog post but I think doing something in the mobile space could be interesting. An app to one click broadcast to the radio or a more fully featured app for reading and discovering digital stories could be really compelling.

  2. Barbara says:

    A DS106-type (M)OOC for languages? Speaking from the other side of the pond, and after having sent several days with my European counterparts who are doing work out in the open (with or without the support of their universities), there is genuine interest in creating such a thing but no sense of where or how to begin. The students, the teachers, the resources are there…what’s missing is a home.

  3. dkernohan says:

    Before I say anything at all… Martha, Jim, Timmy, Alan, everyone … this is amazing and testament to your vision of this amazing genius nonsense that is ds106. It’s all about the community, and you’ve always been all about the community. Huge congratulations.

    First up: don’t let me stop giving you money. Make the ability to donate a permanent, unobtrusive, part of the open course.

    Secondly: Like CogDog in his post the other day, I’m worried that ds106 does not get recognised for just how innovative and how successful it is. It’s a MOOC, but it is more than that. How can we capture what it is, why it works how it does, and why it needs serious attention from educators everywhere? Is there a way to solve this problem with money? I don’t know… but it’s one of the problems that needs solving.

    All the ideas up there are gold. Keep them too. But also.

    And the bus as well. The #ds106 bus. Don’t let that dream die.

  4. Grant says:

    @timmmyboy I love the idea of a native mobile application – have been poking around with for awhile and there’s lots of fun potential in there.

  5. Reverend says:

    Love the idea of a mobile app for broadcasting, assignments, etc. That would be mint, and if you, @Grant, and Alan Liddell are on the case all the better, brilliant. That PhoneGap framework @Grant points to looks promising, and now we may actually be able to fund someone who can build it 🙂

    It just so happens I have a language professor in my house 🙂 I’d be very interested in experimenting with open, online language classes along the lines of a #ds106 model. Let’s work together on this. I won’t be teaching a version of ds106 for a while, and I will be focusing a lot more on these kind of projects, so this is perfect timing, and I am game.

    First, thanks for the sound advice. I, too, think a regular source of donations might be an avenue we keep open, also I am ready to do a brand new kickstarter specifically for the #ds106 bus 🙂 Actually, you have inspired me to write a post about this, so stay tuned—it will be a follow up to this one!

    In terms of capturing what #ds106 is, that’s a tough one, I kind enjoy how elusive it is to many, but how much the people who are a part of it and have played around with it love it. That makes it seem all the more genuine and powerful to me, what’s more with more and more people jumping on the attention to community and intimacy because more and more difficult, hence thinking about a coordinator who is a part of the community. That wouldn;t be an “outside hire” so much as bringing someone who has made this community what it is to the fore with an actual income—I know that is dangerous, but I am fascinated by the idea that the ds106 community could pay a coordinator or open, online profs more than an institution 🙂 The idea is deeply intriguing, because at the same time the institutions remain critical for funding the for-credit classes, giving credit to students at the various universities, and having a consistent presence throughout the course. There is a really important interplay there.

    You want to program it? We need you Obi Wan Kenobi!

  6. scottlo says:

    This past couple of days has been exhilarating. It must be terribly gratifying to be on the receiving end of this deluge of support. And there’s a sense that this is just a tip of the iceberg type of phenomenon that you guys have revealed / discovered.

    But none if it would have come about if ds106 weren’t what is and didn’t do what is does. And I think the “what it is” and “what it does” was beautifully expressed in the various participant excerpts you and Tim included in your “pitch” video.

    As with @Barbara, I too have been wondering about how a ds106 model or approach could be applied to the language classroom. Please consider including me in any future discussion on the matter.

  7. Tom says:

    Wow. Guess the video worked. Very glad to see it work out so easily.

  8. Reverend says:

    One more thing I want to throw out here is the ds106 Minecraft server, I have to get an estimate from Zach Davis at CIC how much that is, I know it’s not too much, but I would like to make that part of the environment we support 🙂

  9. Reverend says:


    We ran the video because we were impetulant and just wanted it out there, what’s more we kinda wanted to keep with the fund the server and stay away from over-hyping UMW and the student work hence it seem exploitative. But how sick this turn out? Plus, I loved the cop video 🙂

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  12. Reverend says:

    I have a few more ideas I have blogged about and should probably include ehre as well:

    1) Embedded ds106 Artist (Tim Owens’ idea)—embed a digital artist in the class for a week. They can create some art, discuss things that interest them, comment on students’ work, and generally be part of the class that week or so.
    Link to post

    2) ds106 Bus Tour — get a bus and put people in it and tour around North America (or the world!) and bring ds106 to the people 🙂
    Link to post

  13. Jen says:

    Jim, you folks are an inspiration, and I’ve been sharing your work with faculty for years. I’d love to attract more faculty to try open online teaching, but it’s difficult to find people willing to jump right in, and I don’t know many universities with the resources to provide faculty with the support they need to really make it successful.
    I’d love to see DS106 offer an open online teaching apprenticeship program. Faculty who’ve not taught online, or who’ve not taught open courses could apply to apprentice with folks like you, who’ve been in the trenches a while. DS106 would get additional support, similar to your suggestion in #5, but it would be from people who are willing to put in the effort to learn the ropes and fail in a place where it’s safe and they can bring their knowledge back to their own institutions.
    I could also see a DS106 teaching practice community emerge around this idea. I’m in the middle of an LMS search project right now, and one of the most valuable pieces of the process has been spending time on the phone with learning technologies folks at other campuses, including UMW. I’ve gathered a ton of stories, such as how people deal with reluctant admin, or strict FERPA interpretation, or the new accreditation requirements.
    I’d love to be able to tell instructors they don’t have to start teaching openly online without a place to practice. I’d love to see them cross disciplines for a teaching experience that makes them fall in love with their work again, and remember why they chose this career.
    (Of course, I’d also love to see you get a massive pile of gold to hire a bunch of lawyers to go fight all the things that make teaching and learning a crime!)

  14. Jenny says:

    I come at this from only a peripheral angle. I’ve followed #ds106 since the beginning. It’s actually been a fascinating instance of worlds colliding for me as those I follow from UMW (based on the family connection) and the K-12 world in which I live professionally have come together again and again.

    I’m intrigued by the idea of a #ds106 aimed specifically at the K-12 world in some way. I know it’s open to all which would, of course, include K-12 folks, but it would be interesting to aim it specifically at students in younger grades than college.

  15. Ben Harwood says:

    Building a mobile experience (i.e., app) is great @timmmyboy. Linking language classrooms is also very cool per @Barbara @scottlo… I imagine the ds106 model would find some way to use the radio and tv to connect them in some way? Please keep me posted. Having Bryan Alexander and Gardner Campbell (whom I do not know personally but for whose work I have a great deal of respect) team teach a section would simply be fantastic.

  16. leelzebub says:

    DS106 Minecraft server 🙂

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  18. Jim Groom says:

    I think that a version of ds106 for professional development and teaching online exists with Lisa Lane’s Pedagogy First POT even has a certificate and is a really impressive approach. I think more and more a wide range of these classes offers unbelievable professional development, and ds106 is really interesting in that many folks see it as malleable to languages, professional development, etc., because at its heart it is all about storytelling, and I would love to see people taking that part of it out and pulling it into this community. I see no reason why it needs to be limited to digital storytelling in any strict sense, and it would force us to re-think how we aggregate, syndicate, and make certain things apparent to the community.

    I was hoping you and Tom Woodward would have done this already 🙂 More seriously, I know there has been a lot of interest in this approach at K12, and I know a whole bunch of us in the ds106 community would love to sit down with anyone interested in the K12 community. I was thrilled to see that Heather Durnin and Clarence Fisher took Alan Levine and Grant Potter up on the ds106 radio model and got the 105thehive radio station up and running in no time ( Hoping someone will do that with the ds106 site soon too, because I think it is a model that can definitely travel to K12, what’s more many of the assignments in the ds106 assignments bank would also work well for K-12.

    The Minecraft Server is a lock, I need to talk to Matthew Presser about the details, but this will not go away if I can help it 😉

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