Hello and welcome to the online, Spring version of Digital Storytelling (CPSC 106). If you are receiving this email, it means you are currently enrolled to take this course in Spring 2024.

Please read this post in its entirety!

The purpose of this post is to orient you to how this course will be run, and to make you aware of the commitment that this course demands.

In short, you will be required to:


All of this work will require a significant commitment of time and effort, but it is easily manageable with good time management. Procrastinate at your peril.

This course is somewhat different from most online classes in that you will be required to narrate your process of learning over the course of the semester. You will be required to setup and manage your own domain and web hosting space (details forthcoming). We plan to experiment with various fediverse services, potentially including Mastodon, PeerTube, etc., so be prepared to create accounts there as well. Note that even though we are running this course on the open web, you are not required to expose any personal information there. Feel free to use a pseudonym if you want. You will be expected to regularly update your own web spaces where you will be installing, designing, and customizing your own site. More specifically, you will be asked to use these spaces to create digital narratives both individually and collaboratively over the course of the semester—so please be prepared to work together.

Also, it is very important to keep in mind that a lion’s share of the course work, and by extension your grade, will be focused around the regular updating of your own site as well as commenting on those of your classmates. We cannot stress strongly enough how essential both posting and commenting are to your success in this course.

Another issue that comes up again and again with this course is the time commitment. We will be creating a variety of narratives across a wide range of media, experimenting with everything from digital photography to digital audio to web video. These forms are often quite complicated and time consuming, and while the students who have taken this class in previous semesters enjoyed the process tremendously, they almost all noted it demands a significant amount of time. If you took this class as a 100-level filler and expect to get by with minimal work or engagement, you will quickly realize that it’s far more than that—and the dangerous part of the course is you will greatly enjoy the work. Don’t be seduced!

The main sites for the course are located at http://ds106.us and https://ds106.ai/. Please go there and take a look around to get a sense of the chaos. The syllabus is online in Canvas. If you have any questions let us know.

Something to keep in mind about that course site is that it may not only include the posts of students from UMW, but also from others beyond the boundaries of our school. ds106 may be taken by people from outside UMW as well as at UMW. Your work as a class will happen alongside other people with a wide experience and interests—some of whom have no association with UMW whatsoever. This serves as a microcosm of the web, we will not be working within a siloed learning management system for this class, rather we will be doing our business out on the open web.

This course is designed to get you to both think about and interact within the digital landscapes and networks that everywhere surround us. Narratives and storytelling provide the frame we need for exploring and experimenting with emerging forms of creative expression in the digital realm as well as means for interrogating the digital environments we are increasingly dependent upon. To this end you will be asked to steward your own website, and one of your first assignments will be to setup your own domain —and by extension your own digital identity.

Before the semester begins you will receive another missive with a link to instructions for getting your own web host, domain, and installing a couple of open source applications. You will also be expected to get accounts on some other sites (details forthcoming) as soon as possible. (Note: we think we all know there are problematic people on the web and on social media. While we haven’t had a problem with them in ds106 in the past, you are perfectly welcome to use pseudonyms for this course if you have privacy concerns.) Additionally, we will be explaining more specifically how this particular version of ds106 will work.

Finally, if you have significant issues with any of the above listed points—which we’re sure some of you do— feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and/or [email protected].

Best regards,

Paul Bond and Jim Groom

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