DS 106 is a digital storytelling course taught out of the University of Mary Washington (UMW) which allowed anyone online to participate with officially registered students in the Spring 2011. Instructional technologist Jim Groom taught the course through a WordPress blog used by students and open participants to feed work from personal blogs often created for the class. The course examined emergent narrative techniques often made possible via remix and participatory culture. The assignments for the class were crowd-sourced and categorized into media types allowing people to choose from a variety of options based on interest. Various semester installments of the class have had themed investigations or narrative arcs of their own.

I discovered DS 106 mid Spring of 2011 and originally engaged students and open participants primarily through Twitter conversation and a web radio station created by participants in the course. During the subsequent summer, UMW hosted a section of DS 106 for students and open participants themed as the ‘Summer of Oblivion’ heavily influenced by the film Videodrome. Jim Groom again led the course, this time LARPing as Dr. Brian Oblivion. This instantiation of ds106 encouraged a broader narrative that was collaboratively built by the students and open participants. MBS actively contributed work to the course and archived two moments of the invented narrative in which Dr. Oblivion was kidnapped and the subsequent revolt by the course community.

In the fall of 2011, Iwas given the opportunity to conduct the first section of DS 106 not taught directly out of the University of Mary Washington. With the support of UMW’s DTLT staff and given the admin keys to the course site, I hosted a class at York College/CUNY in his Communications Technology program. Registered students and open participants were encouraged to come on a ‘Journey to the Center of the Internet.’

Inspired to create a broader narrative, MBS role played as Prof. Oliver Lindenbrook based on the James Mason character in the 1959 film adaptation of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. He adopted a somewhat bumbling persona which was appropriate given his newness to teaching an open online course. Moments of the teaching experience are archived online, featuring Prof. Lindenbrook taking a necessary rest after stumbling through early classes, then returning as a grittier though somewhat jaded professor, and finally I put Prof. Lindenbrook’s character to rest but not without consequences.

DS 106 has become widely recognized as one of the early ‘MOOCs’ (Massive Open Online Courses) to be offered online and regarded as a pedagogical innovator. It is used as a case study in the MacArthur Foundation’s connective learning research network and regularly cited when differentiating between connectivist ‘cMOOCs’ and the well financed broadcast ‘xMOOCs’ such as Udacity, Coursera, and EdX.

I formally adopted curriculum ideas from DS 106 into the Communications Technology program in the Fall of 2013 and now teaches a course for York students at CT101.us. The class still regularly uses and contributes to the assignment repository of DS 106, though no longer feeds posts directly to the site. But I still considers myself DS106 #4LIFE.