As I write my final “letter home” or weekly reflection, I will share advice with future ds106 participants, especially students. Understand that I write this from the perspective of an adult student, in my mid-30′s, in the midst of a successful, demanding career, with a family and home to manage…all while balancing a school agenda, pursing my Bachelor’s of Professional studies degree in Leadership & Management. Obviously, I am an extremely busy woman, whose time is a precious commodity.
I will also share that I dropped another class off my summer schedule because the amount of work required was so intimidating and overwhelming that I was afraid that I could not get it all done successfully to maintain my 3.8 GPA. After dropping that class, I quickly looked for something to take it’s place. Seeing as I am short on general electives, I found this class that thought it would be a fun, creative, even easy way to accumulate credits over the summer. I was a few days late enrolling in this course and felt like I was constantly playing “catch up” right out of the gate. But Martha and Alan were welcoming and the other participants and students were great in helping me along the way and encouraging me with accolades and constructive criticism. My think that ds106 would be fun and creative part was accurate, but easy? Well, not exactly easy for ME, but I certainly learned a lot and I’m sure this ds106 experience is one that I will never forget.
So my advice and experience comes in the form of a David Letterman-style Top Ten List.
10. Come prepared.
Be ready to hit the ground running. Review the list of materials or potential tools you will need to use throughout ds106, including image editors, video editors, audio editors, etc. Familiarize yourself with unfamiliar programs, if necessary. This will save you time later. I started a bit behind the curve and used a lot of time trying to find the right tool to do what I envisioned in my head.
9. Pay attention.
Bookmark, and check daily, the activity at ds106. As this is an online environment, use Google Reader, Twitter, the ds106 website and other pertinent tools at your disposal to get announcements and tutorials and follow what’s going on with other ds106ers through blogs, tweets, etc.
8. Get involved and interact.
You should make a few minutes each day for ds106, including getting involve and interacting with others. It really is a lot of fun to browse blogs and see what other ds106ers are working on. Leave substantive comments whenever possible to not only let everyone, including the professors, that you are participating, but to enjoy the creativity that takes place here. Don’t forget to tweet your new blog posts and daily creates! Again this shows participation and alerts others to review and comment on your work too.
7. Be consistent.
Daily participation in ds106 is critical. Be consistent in your activities…planning, interacting, doing assignments, blogging, tweeting, etc. Some tasks and some days will require more time and investment than others. Just keep making progress and you’ll do fine.
6. Plan ahead.
This is KEY! One of my strategies to plan my week was to browse through the ds106 Assignment Repository at the beginning of each week or segment and start thinking about which assignments I wanted to create and how I would go about doing them. I took myself on field trips often, both around town and online, looking for ideas and inspiration. Also, I recommend looking at the daily create as soon as it’s published each day, to give yourself time to think and do, depending on your schedule for the day.
5. Do NOT procrastinate!
Putting off until tomorrow what you can or should do today can be a fatal error in ds106. Falling behind will likely create a snowball effect that will leave you overwhelmed. Plan accordingly. If you know you will have schedule conflicts or issues, communicate them to your professor and plan ahead to mitigate these demands. Trust me, I fell behind once or twice and it was so much harder to get back on top of things. There’s a lot of work to do here and you should be ready to commit time every day to ds106.
4. Open your mind…and your eyes.
This was one of my favorite things about ds106! If you open your eyes and your mind, you will begin to look at every day things different. As you move through the course, you start to see the concepts all around you. The daily creates really help to stimulate this as well.
3. Challenge yourself.
DS106 is likely to push each participant out of his or her comfort zone at some point. But I challenge you to push yourself. Don’t always pick the easy assignment or use the same tool every time. Stretch your imagination and reach for the stars. The support system here is fabulous, if you get stuck or have trouble, say so! Others will jump in to help or offer advice.
the your story.
The blog write-up are important. Don’t just post the final product. Explain the story behind why and how you did the assignment. Make it personal. This is not an English class, so informal writing is preferred. EMBED your work, not just link to it. A reader should be able to see or view the media directly on your site and not be re-routed elsewhere. The website is yours…make it yours. Personalize it, own it, enjoy it!
and the number one advice and informal motto of ds106…
1. “Make Art, Damn It!”
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. You are assessed on your participation and effort, not the perfection of your product. Have fun and be creative!
My personally favorite segment of ds106 was the visual (photography). I bought a new camera at the beginning of the summer, and really enjoyed playing with it and learning to use it in new and exciting ways. This is definitely an area where I didn’t have the time toi do ALL I wanted to in the assignment repository, but watch out…I do plan to keep working ds106 as an open online participant as time allows me. I can’t wait to do some new assignments and maybe even refine some of the ones I already did.
I have truly enjoy my ds106 experience and learned so much, it’s hard to recap it all. I will say I plan on using the skills I learned here to help my boyfriend re-design the website for his business and link it up social media using the media I learn to manipulate here – images, video, audio, etc. The tools will be a great help in marketing his business and increasing traffic and exposure to his work.
Good luck and enjoy ds106…it’s a great place to be creative and play with others!