This summer we journeyed into digital storytelling. Guided by the very capable Professor Remi Holden, we explored new ways of interacting with each other, on public platforms, and in small groups. Many tools were brought in to facilitate this new experience in learning. Using the DS106 platform, Twitter, Hypothes.is, wordpress and various digital production tools, we had the chance to learn together, and from, both our unique perspectives and shared perspective as a group.
On one of my early blogs I looked at the concept of champion energy and co-creation. In this course Professor Holden exemplified this, pushing us to find our own insights and strength to create and interact at high velocity. While this depleted some, others found it exhilarating, exceeding even their own expectations of themselves.
My academic investigation focused on human potential and knowledge creation. My interest centered on how we will evolve individually and as a society as our reliance on technology increases and reliance on old social structures diminishes.
While I attempt to keep an optimistic tone, I also do not shy away from controversial ideas. I published Consensus Reality and Information Warfare with some trepidation. But, it turned out to be my most viewed blog post. Which made me wonder if I should stop trying so hard to spread sunshine and roses when our landscape appears to be more treacherous than optimistic. Which brings me to the other blog post that resulted, surprisingly, in the highest conversion rate.
Strangely, this post got ThinkInMeta the most new subscribers (mostly outside of the class) and got my Twitter account the most new followers. I am not sure if it was the Game of Thrones theme, or the writing, or even just the timing of when I published it. But this post got the most positive viewer response and conversion rate. I will have to do more testing to figure out why this hit, while other posts did not fair as well.
In addition to our weekly posts on our academic interests, we also posted weekly on readings provided by the professor.
One of the most influential readings, I found, was in chapter 1 of Lankshear’s Sampling the “New” in New Literacies. The complete re-orientation of how authentic communication happens in modern society was articulately delineated here. I valued the comparison of how “push” communications are becoming obsolete and how the new “pull” communication is developing. The broadcast era (which I am from) is closing out. The new non-linear, multi-modal model is taking shape. It demands that our fixed mindsets be re-calibrated to stay engaged in society. There is so much more fluidity in how we can interact and we must be prepared to embrace that to stay relevant.
Every week our readings were so enlightening. Another one I especially appreciated was from chapter 8 of Davies and Merchant, Looking From The Inside Out. This revealed the social nature of modern literacy and competent communications. It is at the heart of how we co-create knowledge and how we become thought leaders in this new era. The social component is critical to grasp if one wants to competently move into this new social civic arena. But this also compels us to rethink how we interact…and why.
Which brings us to the final article I will site here. Again from Lankshear’s Sampling the “New” in New Literacies, chapter 7. Though I may have railed against this at the time of writing, the ideas have penetrated and I would revise my take on this at this point. Again, he talked about the social aspect of writing and writing from a voice of “the we”, rather than “the I”. This idea has taken some time to sink in. With my natural resistance to “group think” I felt this was some weird attempt at social indoctrination. Upon weeks of reflection now, I see this more as a narrative choice. A choice to adopt a voice of the group, rather than as entirely personal or as an outsider. There were other readings Professor Holden gave us throughout this course with this same idea (that I railed against at the time) but that I have come to see as the mechanics of group communication. People like to belong. They don’t necessarily want to feel they are so unique that no one can relate to them. This ability, to communicated in the voice of the “we” is powerful. It can allay fears and empower people. The understanding of this dynamic was by far the deepest and most compelling learning I received.
The DS106 assignments deserve their own section. This learning platform is used by teachers at universities across the nation and globally. It is a ready-made collaborative learning environment that encourages fun, creativity and, above all, PARTICIPATION! Some who participate even refer to themselves as “DS106 lifers”, because the assignment banks are full of fun and interesting creative challenges and everyday new “daily create” challenges are posted to provide a daily creative outlet in an enthusiastic group setting. The sheer number of these that were assigned in this course was challenging, as I assume it was meant to be. It gave everyone a good opportunity to beef up, or brush up, their media production skills. Assignments ranged from video, to print, to writing, to photography to multimedia. It gave everyone an excellent opportunity to touch all the modes of media. I come from this area professionally (media production), so I had many assets I already created for fun that worked well in this platform.
One of the most intriguing parts of this course was the ways in which Professor Holden encouraged novel interaction. This was done not just through social media, but with a digital annotation tool called hypothes.is. While there were MANY interesting threads I choose one here that shows how ideas and platforms co-mingle and re-mix for knowledge creation.
The above is a thread from the “Push/Pull” article mentioned above. It was during this week that our Professor made a very public stand about censorship by pulling out of an opportunity to present at an upcoming edtech convention. I learned of it through his twitter feed and watched how it developed within his twitter community. I saw both those who supported his decision, and those that did not. I was able to apply this “real-time event” to our reading. I was weighing the ideas put forward in the content with ideas I had about the difference between group think and cultivating healthy discourse. This, because I found many reluctant to engage in discourse (any discourse), instead preferring to contribute to the “we” narrative – with everyone much in agreement with everyone. I found this event, the social media around it, and the ability to bring it into a group annotation of an academic article highly instructive and a most unique and novel approach to learning.
I also (somewhat intentionally) attempted to provoke a lively discourse on twitter with my peers and professor. I don’t believe my peer-participants were as enthusiastic about engaging in an academic discourse on twitter as I felt my professor and I were, however. As I was able to watch the side bar conversations between my fellow students as the conversation was occurring, many using humor to diffuse the intensity of the discourse.
I felt this was too bad, because we could have collaborated to find real solutions instead of resorting to animated gifs and platitudes to find a quick, but ultimately unproductive, resolution. But this was highly instructive for me anyway, regarding the nature of communications on a social platform. It was very fast paced. It had four or more active participants and it brought many ideas to the surface, even if no solutions presented themselves at that time.
In summary, all the components of this class worked well together I thought to create a dynamic, interactive learning platform unlike any I have participated in.