Open as we wanna be

“If You Were an OER, What Kind Would You Want to Be?” asked Maha Bali.

Something I try to bring up whenever I talk OER is that resources – the stuff – is nowhere near as important as practices – what people do. Learning is the point. The things we make through that process are byproducts. I don’t mean to dismiss OER. They can be products of great value, and they enable all sorts of open practices. But free textbooks is not what it’s about. It’s the learning that matters.

Of course, we shouldn’t define resources as textbooks. Anything that can be used in learning, teaching and research may be considered an educational resource. Also, people can be resources. As a librarian, I am a resource for students, faculty, staff and the general public who come to my library. As an educator, I am a resource for my students. But I’m only open to an extent. I don’t qualify as a public scholar, probably because I don’t work hard enough at it.

But I like to think I have an impact. I like what we did in True Crime and The Internet Course and I like to think I had something to do with those successes. Jim made them happen, but he was open to letting me in to collaborate. We weren’t focused on open resources, although our classes did produce online material. Rather, our focus was on working in the open, and opening our courses to a great deal of student control. The experiences opened my eyes to what students can and will do when given the autonomy, encouragement and support to take the wheel and drive the bus. And that’s the kind of open resource I want to be.

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Stop, drop, enroll

I had been wanting to read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Lower Ed since I first heard about it, way back whenever, So it was fortuitous that it was selected for the Bryan Alexander Book Club. The reason I wanted to read it, aside from being a fan of her writing, was that I used to work for a for-profit college. I was an adjunct, like most of the instructors, teaching a course called Information Literacy and Research Skills. This was a required course, mainly because state regulations mandated a certain number of liberal arts credits for AAS degrees. The college used these courses to build some basic skills, so the course History of Information Technology, also required, fell under Liberal Arts even though it was mainly a keyboarding class. Maybe that seems shady, but it was necessary for many students. The college was basically a career-training school. They pushed writing in all the courses because people would need written communication skills if they were going to find jobs, and many students came from backgrounds where they didn’t need to write much more than text messages.

I met McMillan Cottom briefly at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute and told her where I had worked. She said, “They’re one of the good ones.” I felt the same way. Everyone I worked with was trying to do the right thing for the students. There was pushback from headquarters when the enrollment officers tried too hard to bring in people who needed too much more help than the school could provide. The sector has a bad rep, but I think the responsibility for that lies with the large, publicly traded companies. As far as I know, my school was privately held, so there wasn’t an investor pressure to maintain constant growth, and the kinds of abuse that goes with that.

The image at the top comes from the back of our employee t-shirts. I was amused by the play on words with the fire safety slogan they taught us in grade school, and never thought about it much beyond that. But something that comes up in Lower Ed is the sense of urgency in the marketing language of for-profit colleges. “Call now! Turn your life around today.” Not only does the language suggest that enrolling is a matter of survival, but the colleges also try to target people who have recently experienced some sort of trauma, people who may feel in need of something life-changing. It will be interesting to see how else her research causes me to re-evaluate my experience.

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Rats! Foiled again.

While I’ve been taking care of business, the agents have been investigating. The ds106 polls have yielded some interesting information so far.

What are they trying to cover up with Agent 106? I wonder…

Some of the polls were pretty evenly divided. I will take this as a sign of good cover and good misdirection. It shows that people don’t really know what our agents are up to, in most cases. It looks like they have Agent MBP’s number though:

It looks like the word is out about my exploding rats though.

But what can anyone do about it? It’s not like there’s a mouse whisperer to come to the rescue. And a mouse whisperer would only have a chance one-on-one, not against my underworld horde.

I am unstoppable. The question is, who let the cat out of the bag? I’m inclined to blame Michael.

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Final Mission: The ds106 ultimatum

For your final project, you are going to tell a story across multiple categories of media. You’ve done writing, photography, audio, video and design. You’ve remixed and mashed up. You’ve done big projects and group projects. You’ve connected different stories. Now we’re going to bring it all together in a transmedia extravaganza.

To repeat what I said in the email earlier this week:

One of the assignments this week was to create a mission. This was rather cryptic, but what we were doing was generating final project ideas. Your final project will be to build a story of completing a mission, in multiple interconnected media. You could think of the project as a portfolio of evidence, which you connect in a blog post. You could also take an entirely different approach, as long as it involves interconnected media. What do I mean by interconnected media? We have used several different types of media over the semester – visual, design, audio, video, web, and remixing and mashing them up. Your project will use at least three of these media. For example, part of your story might be a video, another part might be a series of images, and a third could be an audio production. You would connect the three in a blog post. Or maybe you would pin them on a Google map that gets embedded in a blog post which explains your story. The purpose here is to show that you have mastered several different types of digital media and that you can bring them together in a coherent story.

You are encouraged to work together on your projects, but this is not a requirement. Due to the nature of the assignment, it will not be necessary to meet up in person to collaborate. If you work together you can bounce ideas off of each other and share the work. You can look out for each other and raise each others game. Everyone has to blog their own write-ups, of course.

How big should this be? How long of a story do you have to write? That’s hard to quantify. This is a major project, so treat it as such. Think about the work that went into your radio shows – it should be comparable to that. Think of the kind of effort that would go into doing about 30 stars worth of assignments.

Part I

Twitter Polls
We need to find out what we know about the other agents. We have a top-secret list of all the agents, and we have interviews with them, so we have a start. Now it’s your turn to ask a couple questions. Instead of asking an agent directly, you will poll the class to see what we think we know.

Everybody has an assigned day to conduct a Twitter poll. Every agent is assigned a day as well. You will ask a creative and respectful question through Twitter polls about one of the agents assigned to your day. You don’t want to ask something lame like “Is agent x a double agent?” A. Yes B. No. But you could ask something like “What did agent x do with that bicycle lock she borrowed?” A. She used it to lock a gorilla in the 7-11 B. She gave it to Dr. Evil. Maybe that’s kinda lame too. The polls should endeavor to provide helpful clues that we could use to build our stories. Tag the poll with #ds106poll and #(name of the agent the poll is about). Everybody should try to participate in each poll. Blog your analysis of the results. This is partly about having fun with the class characters, but you can also use the data from the polls in your projects.

Who’s doing the polls
Saturday 4/15: Rachel, Sarah, Maria, Katelynn, Heather
Sunday 4/16: Michael B., Kevin, Yun, Ryan, Thomas
Monday 4/17: Alex, Shelton, Ahmed, Taylor, Daniel Z.
Tuesday 4/18: Hannah, Daniel H., Samantha, Michael R.
Wednesday 4/19: Amari, Krystal, Callie, William
Thursday 4/20: Megan, Cole, Christopher, Nicholas

Who are we polling about
Saturday 4/15: Alex Burns (Agent Zero), Athena (Agent A), Lillian O’Dell (Fawn), Wren Wilder (003), Professor Bond
Sunday 4/16: Annabella Smith, Aaron Brand (The Accountant), Robert Reynolds (Moncure), Alex Whales (AW)
Monday 4/17: Ben Aggos, Charles Finch (Rubiks Tilbit), Mac Plaia (Cobra), Kate “The Marksman” Jones, Lynn Harris (Agent Reveal)
Tuesday 4/18: JJ Redick (The Kid), Kevin Burkhalter (Agent 5ly), Nice Guy (G07), Dennis Pratt (D-Boy), Frank Underwood (Franwood)
Wednesday 4/19: Kaos Brown (Agent Smith), Igtherion (Zephyr), Boris Ongorachov (Bongo), Alex Berchek (Viper), Neil Roberts (Soap)
Thursday 4/20: Margaret Delatour (Special Agent GO), Roderick Rush, Scarlett Jones (Tinkerbell), Al Gore (ManBearPig)

Part II

The mission:
For your final mission, we have collected some fragments of intelligence, which are presented below. You may have other fragments of your own. Some of these may be red herrings or misdirection. You may have to do further investigation. You have to determine a plan of action. You have to execute your mission. You have to submit a report, which will include digital media.

Something is wrong in ds106! We have had several reports that there is a double-agent in our midst. Quite likely there is more than one. We must find out who they are before it’s too late. This may involve looking for clues and gathering evidence. It may also involve misinformation to keep the double agents from finding out that we’re on to them. You will have to figure out who can be trusted and who can’t.

We have unconfirmed reports that Canada is up to something, so we are looking to defuse the potential situation. Are they conspiring with the Russians? It may seem preposterous, but consider the facts: They’re both vast and brutally cold, they’re both into that hockey thing, and between the two of them they have Santa Claus practically surrounded. And you all know what that could mean. The question is, what will we do about it?

Several agents were appear to have been interviewed by The Directorate. We have a report that they know who all of our agents are. We know they have a foothold on campus. And we have a report that one of our agents has gone rogue and is secretly working for The Directorate. How shall we approach this situation? What can we do about it?

I’m concerned about this. It looks like your professor may have been working with the Russians. What is his role in all of this? Is he working on his own, or are other agents involved? What might his end game be? What are you going to do about it?


You can use one or more of the items above as the basis of your final project. You have free rein as to how you interpret or embellish these prompts. You are free to add other ideas as well. There are no limits. The important factors are to use a variety of media, involve your characters, be creative, have fun, and make it awesome.

By next Friday, 4/21, at midnight, you need to post a progress report. This should, at the very minimum, outline your mission and plan of attack. That is, it should show that you’ve started working on the project and that you have an idea of where it’s going. If you are working with a team, indicate who they are. This report could function as your weekly summary.

Post the project by 4/28. Your final project should be in a blog post. You will submit the URL of that to Canvas. It can link to other posts, if it makes sense to run it in multiple parts. All media – images, audio, video, etc. – must be embedded (not linked) in the post(s). The final project needs to be accompanied by a final weekly summary, in which you discuss and reflect upon the project. This could be the same post as the project, or a separate one, depending on what makes sense for your project.

There will be an additional (easy) assignment in the last week, details to come.

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Week 12: Remix & Mashups

4/7/17 – 4/14/17

Make a Tutorial
This week’s main focus will be on mashups and remixes, but we also need to make tutorials. You may have noticed these in the Assignment Bank. Some assignments have them, some don’t. Was there an assignment that gave you trouble? Something that you had to work to figure out? Something that you found a different way to do? Make a tutorial to help out the next generation of ds106ers. Put together a detailed description of how you did an assignment. It could be a video, or it could be text with images – whatever makes the most sense for the information you need to convey. You can do it for an assignment that took a lot of work, or you can do it for one that was a lot of fun. Put it in a blog post and tag it with the appropriate tags – just like assignments, tutorials need to have two tags. You can see the tags on the right side of each assignment page:

This week we will be focusing on Mashups & Remixes. The terms mashup and remix are often associated with music, but they don’t need to be limited to it. So what is a mashup? What is a remix?

From the ds106 open course:
For this unit you’ll be exploring the culminating ideas of ds106, remixes and mashups, the recasting of existing media into new forms by creative combination and editing. This will build off of your previous work in all media forms. And we will even remix our own assignments. Some will split hairs over the differences/definitions of remix and mashup. Let’s try to say that remix is usually a creative edit of one form of media, such as the recut movie trailer below or the musical remixes of Girl Talk; mashups refer to the mixing of media/content of from disparate places. Both involve the creative act of making something new from previous works. We ask you to try and sort it out and tell us if the difference really matters.

A remix could be as simple as editing a conversation into a monologue:

Garfield Minus Garfield

A mashup might involve adding some new sounds:

Friday 13th Part 3 with Laugh Track

Or editing together a new trailer:

The Shining Recut

Those two examples involve lightening the character of dark movies. There is also the opposite approach:

WILLY WONKA – Recut Horror Trailer

You could say Everything is a Remix. This week everyone gets to join in the fun.

Mashups and Remixes
Let’s have fun with the assignments this week and involve your secret agent character in as many as humanly possible.
Mashups – Do 12 stars of mashup assignments. Don’t like the assignments? Make up your own!
Do 2 Remixes – Choose assignments from any category and use the Remix It button on them. We’re not counting stars on Remixes. Just do two. For example:

Can I make a mash up or remix from something that has been created for the class already?
Certainly! Not only can you, but you should! Let’s build on what we’ve made. Use something created for the course for at least one of your projects this week.

Same as always, except more.

Daily Creates
Two, please.

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Monkeying around with copyright

When I first heard about Chris Morrison and Jane Secker’s Copyright the Card Game, I thought it was an awesome idea, and wondered how I might be able to make use of it. I soon noticed a major problem in that the game is based on UK law, and I’m in the US. So I asked if anyone was working on a US version and Chris said, “Not that I know of. Want to have ago at it?” He set up a Slack group so the interested parties could collaborate easily. Laura Pope Robbins from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University provided valuable input in the development of the project.

We went about rebuilding the game from the ground up. We dissected copyright law to identify the important points and categorize them into suits. Due to the complexities of some sections of the law, this proved quite challenging. We’re still working on finding an elegant solution to incorporate fair use and various exemptions. However, we are far enough along to have a prototype and give it a trial run.

One of my goals with this project is to promote Creative Commons as well as advocate for fair use. So in addition to having the CC notice on the cards and having a License card for Creative Commons, I used icons from The Noun Project as part of the card designs. In the copyright scenarios that go with the game, we mention Creative Commons and open educational resources, which are typically CC licensed.

I presented the game as a 50 minute workshop for faculty. I titled the workshop “Monkey Around With Copyright,” and used the monkey selfie image on my promotional material and also used the story behind it as an icebreaker. This worked to bring people to the session and create an informal atmosphere. I talked a little bit about my background with copyright and the Copyright Clause from the US Constitution. Then we looked at the cards and went over the types of works that get copyrighted, the rights that copyright covers, and fair use and the four factor test. We addressed faculty questions along the way.  We also looked at licenses and other legal issues that impact copyright.

At that point, we went into game play. We had several scenarios of copyright issues prepared for the presentation. Attendees worked in small groups to discuss the issues, decide which cards apply to them, and determine a risk factor for each scenario. We had a lively discussion of all the scenarios as a group. The attendees went away confident in what they were doing in class and in Blackboard, and curious to find out more about Creative Commons. We are planning on running the workshop again in the fall, and extending it to 90 minutes so it’ snot quite as rushed. We’re also hoping to present the card game at our regional ACRL conference in June. That should get us some valuable feedback.

You can see the printable cards here, although they still need work.


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Help out a ds106 classmate

One of our ds106ers is collecting data for a psychology project, “a study about parenting, romantic relationships, and life satisfaction.” I have been told “This study is for academic purposes only and the data that is collected will only be analyzed for academic advancement.” You do not have to do this for our course, but if you want to be nice and help someone out, here is the link to the survey:

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“We’re all in it together.”

What does community mean to me? The first thing I think of is Harry Tuttle in Brazil: “We’re all in this together.” unfortunately that doesn’t fit the four word restriction. But the actual prompt for #Antigonish2 is “What has community meant for you?”

That’s different. It’s not asking for a definition but an effect. For most of my life I’ve been a loner/outsider/introvert. The community at large and I had little use for each other. But there have always been a few that I have connected with – the neighborhood street hockey crew, the metal party people, the local music scene, the ds106 community. Those connections matter. They can be sustaining. The opportunities to contribute and be part of something adds to my sense of self-worth. What community has meant for me is

multiple opportunities for growth

There’s a second prompt: “What does an engaged community look like to you?”

I’m interested in the typewriter image. It suggests communication and technology, but it’s an old technology, at least by technological standards. So there is a timelessness to it. Engaged community has always been with us. It’s part of what makes us human. But the typewriter is a tool. It takes skill to use it well. It represents a commitment – investing in one and learning to use it. As a society, over several decades, we have built an amazing communication tool – the Internet. I feel like we’re letting it go though. We let privacy go. We’re letting net neutrality go. We’re letting this amazing communication tool turn into another TV.

Is that really what we want? What do we sacrifice along the way? We could use this tool to help build community, to work towards a better educated citizenry. That’s what I see in Antigonish2. We can make things happen for us, rather than have things happen to us.

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Agent Orange

In reviewing the agent interviews, I’m noticing some common answers. Everyone who has responded to the animal question has said tiger, and everyone who responded to gorilla question said 7-11. the thread that ties the two together is the color orange. So what does this mean? I looked for the meaning of the color orange, and saw that there was an answer from Agent Bourn so I used that one. It’s less aggressive than red, but still highly visible. Are these good qualities for a secret agent? I’ll let you decide. Too much orange is self-centered and self-serving. I wonder… Is there a conspiracy in the works?  It’s the self-serving ones that turn into double agents. We need to be vigilant!

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Week 11: Mission: Moviemaking

We are doing a second week of video. We’re bringing it all together in these last few weeks. This is almost entirely taken from the Open ds106 Unit 10:

Video the ds106 Way
Focus on the storytelling aspect of your video making–do not get caught up in the technical points or making the video just for the assignment stars…  Be very sure that your videos tell a story, that it surprises us, that it perhaps jars us, and that when you write up your blog post you are providing full details and context for your videos.

All of your video assignments should include:

  • An opening title sequence and/or closing credits – make sure your video gives credit to all media sources.
  • Make good use of audio– keep in mind the lessons from your audio storytelling work– use of background music, sound effects, and/or foley.
  • Your blog writeup includes the key elements— narrative describing the ideas/inspiration behind the video you created and also details on how it was made (including credits/links to media sources and at least one screen shot of your video editing screen). Think of it as the “extras” on a DVD or a “making of” article about a movie.

The Ins and Outs of Video Editing
We recommend using video editing software that allows you to cut and re-arrange clips on a timeline, and to add, and layer audio tracks. Most typically this is the software that came with your operating system- iMovie on Macs and MovieMaker on Windows PCs (but feel free to look at some of the other options in the ds106 Handbook).

Some of the assignments may require downloading of clips from YouTube (we have a tutorial if you need it). PC users may have challenges in importing the downloaded mp4 video files into MovieMaker (We have been told that the Windows Movie Maker Live can import MP4)- you will either have to install codecs to read mp4 videos, or use a converter to change mp4 into AVI or WMV file formats. See the ds106 Handbook for some video converter options.

Other resources that may help include:

The Rest of Your Video Mission
Those of you who chose the individual option last week should continue with video assignments. Do 12 stars of video assignments, including 6 which connect with your secret agent character and the course theme in some way. If you don’t like the ones you find, feel free to create your own and add them to the Assignment Bank.

All your video work should be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and you ought to write a post for each completed assignment in which you embed your video. We’d like to know the why’s and how’s of your productions. What might you do differently if you did it again? What did you learn, both technically and in creating your story that you might take to the next project?

If you chose the group option last week, finish your video, but still be sure to include opening & closing credits and pay attention to sound production. Be sure to blog your progress throughout the week (tag: videoshowprogress) and to share your final show in your weekly post.

This is tying together some of the things we’ve worked on this semester. Opening and closing credits are a way of incorporating design, and sound is vitally important throughout video.

Another Mission
You’re all secret agents. You’ve all practiced various techniques. Some of you even talked with The Directorate (treacherous traitors!). Now we need a mission. What should it be? Write your ideas in a blog post and tag it mission.

Daily Creates
Three TDCs this week.

Always. Always Be Commenting.

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