I never would have thought I’d be able to take a college course in which I had total control. Digital Storytelling through the University of Mary Washington is just that class. Join the class when you want, do the activities your want to do, leave the class when you want. I don’t know whether to be ecstatic or completely overwhelmed! (My personality likes structure and deadlines. While this course has structure, if you choose to follow it, can navigate it however you choose.)
What started as an experiment at the University of Mary Washington has evolved into an open course that anyone can access and any time. The course itself is divided into twelve units. You choose which units you complete and in which order. You are totally in control of your own learning. The course website encourages you to participate in the course by narrating your experience on your blog, commenting on other participant’s materials (Constructively).
The part I like the best about DS106 is “The Daily Create.” Spontaneous creative challenges are posted each day. You choose whether you will participate or not. These challenges give you a chance to utilize skills you are learning as you progress through your self-navigated course. An example from today’s “Daily Create,” is “pick a terrible photo and draw it instead.” Once you have created your digital drawing you upload it to Flickr and tag it dailycreate and tdc1269. You can share your Flickr image on Twitter or on your blog.
The creative challenges encompass audio, video, writing, drawing, and photography. The challenges allow you to think outside of the box and use your brain to be creative in your own way. I love the idea of somehow morphing this into an activity for the courses I will be teaching this fall. I think allowing students a choice of how to produce something meaningful might motivate some students, although those like me that are about structure, may need a little added guidance getting started. An example I just thought of might be, “Who is the protagonist in the Scarlet Letter? How do you know?” Create an audio, video, or written paragraph explaining in detail why you think ____ is the protagonist and the reasons (with examples from the text). Same old question, different way of looking at it. That would be one way to veer slightly off the traditional route that might really open some student’s minds.
I guess the question becomes, am I creative enough to teach creatively? I hope so!