Week Two: Happy accidents

1/14/22-1/21/22

All work is due by midnight on Friday, 1/21/22

Now that we’re set up for our adventure, let’s look at where we’re heading. This week is an orientation to what we’ll be doing. In the coming weeks we will be exploring various media and the ways we can use them to create narratives on the web. This is the basic outline, subject to change:

  • Week 3 – writing
  • Week 4 – photography
  • Week 5 – audio
  • Week 6 – design
  • Weeks 7 & 8 – radio show
  • Week 9 – web storytelling
  • Weeks 10 & 11 – video
  • Week 12 – remix/mashup
  • Week 13 – final project

There is a logic to this. The first four weeks cover some basics. In the subsequent weeks we work on working together and bringing ideas together. The radio shows will be small group productions, incorporating ideas of writing, audio and design. Video projects involve all those and photography as well. We have a bank of assignments, with sections corresponding to many of the weeks listed.

Artistic license

We’ve all seen what The Joy of Painting is about. ds106 is not about painting, of course, although anyone is free to bring non-digital talents and interests to the course – I may do that myself. Bob Ross is about more than painting though. He created a persona. He engaged in performance. He did storytelling. These are all forms of art. We tend to think of artists as painters, sculptors, musicians, and authors, but there is more than that. Consider the choreography involved in sports – is that not art? There are also “behind the scenes” artists, like foley artists, who we rarely see, or even acknowledge. We blogged our thoughts on Bob Ross last week, and you can see what everyone had to say (note: There are posts from last semester in the list too. Feel free to ignore anything from before January.).

We all engage in creative activities. We all make aesthetic decisions. We’re all artists. What kind of artist are you? If you don’t think of yourself as one, what kind of artist might you like to be? Be aware that there are no limits other than our imaginations. Blog your thoughts on this topic, and tag it artisticambition. We can use these ideas to influence how we customize our sites this week. You may apply them to the assignments you do, and how you interact with the course.

Below is a detailed list of what’s to be completed this week.

  1. Learn How to Write Assignment Posts: Read this post by Alan Levine on how to write up your assignment posts for ds106. It cannot be overemphasized how important this section is. You will be writing posts for each assignment you do in this course, and the write-up is at least as important as the assignment itself. There is no formula for how you should write your posts, but you should reflect on the decision making process and efforts that go into each assignment, and evaluate the outcomes. Tell the stories of the assignments – what you put into them, how you did them, and what you got out of them. Use this advice to make your posts strong this week!
  2. Complete Daily Creates: This week, we will begin to use The Daily Create. The Daily Create is an integral component of ds106. Follow @ds106dc on Twitter and you will get a creative prompt every day. The Daily Create comes with instructions about how to submit your work. You must complete at least 5 daily creates this week. Here are the rules:
    • You MUST do the Daily Create on the day it comes out. NO EXCEPTION.
    • You MUST share your Daily Creates somehow in a post on your blog this week. You can embed them in your Weekly post or you can have a separate post about them that you link to from your Weekly post.
    • You should NOT spend more than 10-15 minutes on a Daily Create (Some will take a little as 5 minutes). The idea is to get yourself in the habit of doing creative work regularly, not to create a masterpiece everyday!
    • You are welcome to creatively interpret the prompts. As with most things in ds106, there is no one right answer and there are no wrong answers. Just use the prompt as an inspiration to make something.
  3. Explore the Assignment Bank: This week, we will begin using ds106’s Assignment Bank. This resource includes hundreds of media assignments, divided into different genres. Do at least 3 assignments of your choice, but make sure you choose them from 3 different categories. Each assignment comes with a “star” rating that roughly (very roughly) estimates its difficulty. A 1 star assignment is estimated to be easier than a 4 star assignment, but how much effort each one actually takes is largely up to you, based on what you want to put into it. These ratings will take on more significance in the coming weeks. The point of the assignments is not so much to do them “right,” but rather to be creative and to push yourselves to experiment with media. Make at least two of the assignments relate in some way to our course theme. Again, there is no “right” way to do this, except to have fun with it and exercise your creativity.
    It’s your job to narrate the process, explain your thinking, and tell the story of your creation – see item 1 above on this list.
  4. Customize Your Blog: This week, we want you to also spend some time customizing and personalizing your blog. WordPress is a powerful tool for publishing on the web. You have tools like tags, categories and menus that you can use to organize your work and space. You can use and customize themes to project an identity and aesthetic. One of your assignments this week is to personalize your blog. What should it say about you, your interests, and your work? The title is the first part of that. Your blog’s title should not be DS106 or My Blog. Those names are not creative, and more importantly, they’re not you. We have a page of WordPress Basics which we saw last week. Another option is Getting Started with WordPress. This gives you some ideas of what you can do with it. Experiment and try things out! NB: You should install the Akismet plugin, or else you will be spammed.
    Note: The Disable Comments plugin is not recommended for this course, because commenting on each other’s blogs is an integral part of what we do here. You will need to moderate comments. You will get an email when people comment on your posts, and you have to approve them before they will show up. Once you approve a comment author, you won’t need to approve that person again.
  5. Build Your Participation: Participation is not only a component of your success in this class, it’s also an essential element of building our online community. If you’re doing the work but not actively engaging with everyone else in ds106, then you need to step up your game. Here are three important ways you can build up your participation in ds106:
    • Commenting:Commenting is the life blood of this class, and it is a large part of your overall work in this course. Read your fellow students’ blogs widely and comment freely. Commenting builds community. It is recommended that you visit the course site every day to see what people are doing, and comment on a few posts – every day. If you want to be sure we see the comments you left, you should consider linking to them in your Weekly Summary post.
    • Discord: I set up a Discord server for the class so we could have a conversation space that is a little more private to the class. We can use it to ask each other questions and share ideas. The space is there for you to use as you see fit.
    • Responding on Your Own Blog: This is a more advanced form of participation, and it’s indicative of a student who truly understands the meaning of building community in ds106. If you find yourself leaving a very long comment, you have significant thoughts or reactions to a classmate’s work, or someone else’s work inspires you to create something yourself, write up a post on your own blog and be sure to link back to the post that inspired you. It can be incredibly satisfying to discover that something you said or created didn’t just prompt a comment, but inspired someone to write or create something of their own, on their own blog. (You can also use this technique to write about something someone said with which you disagree, but you must always do this in a polite and constructive way!)

Write your Weekly Summary: Before the end of the day on Friday, write your summary of the week and tag it WeeklySummary. This is your story of the week’s activities, and should include your thoughts on the week and the work you did. Embed or link to the assignments and Daily Creates you did. Talk about how you are participating in and connecting with the class. Submit the URL to your summary to Canvas.

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