Week Two: Planning the mission

1/20-1/27

All work is due by midnight on Friday, 1/27

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

  1. Help plot the course: This is your class as well as mine, so I want you to put your own stamp on it. You will be giving input on the course activities, readings and assignments. I am putting you in groups and creating a Google Doc for each group, which you will be able to edit. There are six groups: writing, photo, audio, design, video, and web. Each of you will be randomly assigned to one group. Each group will receive an email with further specific details. There are two purposes for this exercise. One is to encourage you to give input into the course. The other is to get you collaborating with each other. The more you do this throughout the course, the more you will get out of it.
  2. Learn How to Write Assignment Posts: Read this post by Alan Levine on how to write up your assignment posts for ds106. I think it resonates with what Austin Kleon had to say in Show Your Work!, which is why I picked it for last week. Use this advice to make your posts strong this week! Don’t forget to tag your assignment posts properly!!
  3. 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. You can also find it by searching the #dailycreate hashtag. The Daily Create comes with instructions about how to submit your work. You must complete at least 3 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 15-20 minutes on a Daily Create (Some will take a little as 5 minutes). The idea is get yourself in the habit of doing creative work regularly, not to create a masterpiece everyday!
  4. Explore the Assignment Bank: This week, we will begin using ds106’s Assignment Bank. This resources includes hundreds of media assignments, divided into different genres. Do 3 assignments of your choice, but make sure you choose them from 3 different categories. Each assignment comes with a “star” rating that 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 sure your completed assignments show up in the assignment bank by using the proper two tags, for example, VisualAssignments, VisualAssignments5694.  Also, it’s your job to narrate the process, explain your thinking, and tell the story of your creation – see item 2 above on this list.
    Make at least one 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.
    Make sure your completed assignments show up in the assignment bank by using the proper two tags, for example, VisualAssignments, VisualAssignments5694.  Also, it’s your job to narrate the process, explain your thinking, and tell the story of your creation – see item 2 above on this list.
  5. Customize Your Blog: This week, we want you to also spend some time customizing and personalizing your blog. Here are some things you should work on:
    • About Page: You need to create an about page on your blog and let folks know who you are. This is one of your virtual homes on the web, time to decorate and nest. You do not need to share very personal information about yourself, if you’re not comfortable doing so, and, generally, we don’t recommend that you post your email, your phone number, or your street address. You’re welcome to only use your first name or a nickname, if that makes you more comfortable, too.
    • Exploring Themes: Some of you have already changed your blog theme and made the site your own. Awesome. For those who haven’t yet, here’s a tutorial on how to work with Themes in WordPress. You should try out some different themes until you find one you really like.
    • Exploring Plugins: Plugins are extensions to WordPress that change or enhance the way it works. Here is a quick run through on installing plugins. In addition, on the Video page of this site, you can find a section full of WordPress help videos. There is one specifically about installing plugins.
      • To start, everyone needs to install Akismet — a plugin that blocks spam comments (which you will all be getting very soon). If you start having issues with spam and you haven’t installed Akismet, we will cry crocodile tears. We have a tutorial for installing Akismet available. [NB: You don’t have to pay a cent for Akismet, just move the slider to $0 when signing up.]
      • We also recommend you install Jetpack, which is like 40 plugins in one. Many of them are extremely useful (check out the Publicize component of JetPack which let’s you share on Twitter every time you write a blog post).
    • Moderating Comments: There is nothing more annoying than when you take the time to comment on someone’s blog, and it never shows up because it is stuck in moderation. You will receive an email whenever someone leaves a comment on your blog and it goes into moderation, and you need to approve it. It is your job to moderate all comments, although feel free to delete anything you find untoward or inappropriate. You can moderate comments in the Comments section of your WordPress site. (The WordPress help videos on the Video page of this site includes one on Managing Comments.)
    • Blog Titles: No site shall be called “My blog” or “DS106” by the week’s end. If there is one—we will sacrifice kittens and puppies. A lot of them. You change this in the Settings area of the WordPress Dashboard. For a more in-depth overview of WordPress check out the documentation we have provided at http://umwdtlt.com/documentation/
  6. Build Your Participation: Participation is not only a component of your grade 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’s 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. If you want to be sure we see the comments you left, you should consider linking to them in your Weekly Summary post. The main thing is to interact with each other on a frequent basis.
    • Twitter:  A lot of discussion has been happening on Twitter for this class already, and Twitter will be a vital space for the work we’re doing all semester. If you’re not there, you’re missing the conversation, and that can’t help but affect your work. (You may also miss important information, advice, or announcements!)  Follow the hashtag #ds106. Also, you can use Tweetdeck (a Twitter application you can install on your computer) for tracking specific hashtags.
    • 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!)
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