Digital Storytelling (ds106)

After reading the article E-Learning Generations I chose to research Digital Storytelling, cleverly known as ds106. It is an open, online course based out of the University of Mary Washington. Jim Groom was looking for a different method from the current popularity of MOOCs. That was his intent when he started a digital storytelling course in January 2011. The course has a very flexible structure. It happens at various times throughout the year and students are able to join and leave at their own will. It is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirement is the student must have access to a computer with internet. Although, creativity is highly encourages.

On a side note – creativity is an area that secondary students struggle with. My students needs specific instructions on how to complete assignments and they stick to the rubric. If I do not give specific instructions in hopes of generating more creative responses, students panic. This would be a great tool for some of them to force them into thinking outside of the box because there is little direction provided.

Digital Storytelling is simply defined as “using digital tools so that ordinary people can tell their own real-life stories.” The course requires participants to design and build an online identity and narrate their process throughout the semester. It stands apart from current MOOCs in several ways; there are no video lectures, there is no concept of dropping out, people join out of interest and they earn no certificates or badges, it is truly open.

Each week students enrolled in the course complete readings, digital storytelling assignments, regular, creative exercises called “daily creates,” and creating (and completing) their own assignments. Below is an example of a daily create posted by a student today.


After finding out a bit more about ds106 and careful reflection, I cannot find a way to relate it to any personal experiences. Nor can I think of ways to incorporate it into my class. I’d be interested to see what other classmates think.

4 thoughts on “Digital Storytelling (ds106)”

  1. Kayla,
    I also researched ds106. I found the concept interesting , but I was not sure how I could use it in my classes. I agree with you about the struggle students have with creativity. In chemistry we try and encourage inquiry thinking but students really do struggle when they are not give a set of directions to guide them!

    1. Christy – you may be able to integrate this into your class dealing with certain chemists? Students could be working on a lab for you in class and working through your lectures/activities…while at home creating a digital story for the chemist / innovator / leader / etc that goes with that lab/lecture? This may not help them on the AP Exam, but, it could get them to a new level of appreciation for what he/she went through and why we still care about it today (?).

  2. Kayla,
    The way you presented what ds106 was made it clearer to me. You gave an outline which helped me understand that there is “some” structure to such an open-ended learning plan. I agree with the way of thinking of our students today. They “need” to know what they are doing and how they are going to get the grade they desire. It would be interesting to see how grading is done on the work. Is it completion? Should the students keep a journal of some type? Hmmmm? Got me thinking.

  3. Maybe something similar would be worth trying. I’m not sure what you cover in personal finance but I would think having students come up with different ways to stay within a budget or come up with a financial plan for the future and then share those ideas through digital storytelling may result in some thinking outside the box. What do you think?

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