Trying to stay Straight on Down the Line

My journey to ds106 began in a Flickr 365 group in which @cogdog (Alan Levine) was one of the instigators…..errr….founders, of the group that started mostly as people somehow connected to education and technology. The community was welcoming, supportive and structured, but not mandated structured. The way in which the originators of the group set up the context for participation and their modeling invoked positive connections. It also showed how everyone has something to give and share some of the time, some all the time, and some only when you really need it. From this group I have established deep and lasting relationships with people I have never met in person. It has been 6 years since my first photo and I am still connected to a core group even though we have all moved on to other things or directions.


My 365 Albums:  2009  2010  Dailyshoot   (got busy the next years and didn’t create albums!)
365 Group on Flickr
DailyShoot on Flickr

I was already a part of an online world – but this group extended my connectedness to the globe. My professional side, I have been online in education since 1992 and started with the Freenet – bulletin boards (yeah – you #noir106 students may need to look those up in Wikipedia). I have moved through more than a dozen LMS systems, course development tools, video, and more. Most of my work was in professional development and systems with educators as the students, focusing on how to move them towards working with their students online. The problem was my job was in getting these things going and getting others to see the possibilities and a vision. It left me only time to do things as a “work hobby” in getting systems and direction started and handing it off to others to do the creating. My dream was to do the creating and see something from start to finish. But something called needing a paycheck and others deciding leadership was a better route for me to make a difference, set the direction. I enjoyed my time in that role and can look back on making a difference. 2014 brought forward family health issues. I was able to take early retirement and focus on family and take on new things that hold me only accountable to myself. I knew I wanted to jump into ds106 – I have for a few years now. It has taken me a year to get adjusted to letting work go and allow me to focus on my own passions and create again.

With the new year – I started on my own in the headless open version of DS106. If I was going to make this happen for me- I had to do it. I couldn’t use the excuse that @cogdog was having to move on with new ideas, that @jimgroom and others were now continuing in their care for ds106, that it was now not the newest kid on the block. But I believe in its foundation, methods, and philosophy. It is a game changer. It is not just a course for UMW – it is a way that connects around the world and makes a difference.

Straight on Down the Line Groupie or Stalker

Whether it was karma or dumb luck, my journey into independent learning with ds106 aligned my time in learning cyberspace creation with 3 awesome sections of students in the journey at UMW as #noir106. It also provides me some motivation and some accountability to get things done. The ds106 structure is solid, but takes themes with each new cohort. Previously student cohorts explored through Wire and other themes and genre. This cohort is exploring through Noir Films. I am not old enough to have experienced noir firsthand (REALLY I’M NOT!), but close enough to those who did that I can recognize it. I love getting to know the students and other participants and see how they grow! Because or the open format someone like me can walk along the process without being official. How life is that! But it also can cause some unsettling of traditional format students and seem like stalking or intrusion. But cleverly – it is life and no matter who drops in everyone has to figure out how to accept, include, or ignore and put aside. Students have their guides (instructors) to help them balance that as a real experience. Watch and learn from them.

I am going through ds106 as an open course and independent learner. I don’t know that I will ever take an official “education system” learning opportunity again – or at least not until the systems change some things. My last professional work was in understanding how systems need to change. I am living my convictions. So that means I am responsible for my learning, for determining my path and my greatest success. I go the route of failing forward. I believe in personalized learning, creating my path and reaching learner independence. I believe our economy and world needs people who know how to become independent learners for their success and the success of our communities.

I have created my own expectations to stay on course and be productive in this ds106 structure. I am honing my foundation skills so that I can take my personal content – family pictures, video, artifacts etc. and create digital stories for my daughters and any future family members.

Traveling along  the learning path with the noir106 for me borders on groupie and stalker. Groupie in how there are so many talented people and it is exciting to see who comes out of their comfort zone and shares their talents. I am cheering for you – talents you may not have known existed because no one else responded.

Stalker in the sense that I am not one of the students in a section, but with this format (which is totally awesome and the way many things should be) I am not confined by having to get a grade or still “in the system”. I also have the background and now time to explore, take in and respond to work being done by others. So at times that can prove to be awkward because while the sharing gives me opportunity to know others, sometimes they don’t realize they are sharing much is noticed by others. I have the luxury and freedom to be around more often too- which I suppose could get creepy – like -“why is she always there?”

Stalker in the sense that sometimes we don’t know how much we shared and when someone notices it is sort of unsettling. We thought we were saying something no one else would notice. But guess what – it is okay to share and find out about yourself.

I want to thank the ds106 community. There are #4 life folks who have embraced and welcomed. Thanks to  @mdvfunes  @rockylou22 @johnjohnston @ronaldL  The #noir106 students have been inspirational – I told my family – “these college students are kicking my ass!”,  I have to work on the next assignment! You keep me  reaching to higher outcomes, ideas and solutions.

The instructors – Burtis, Bond, Groom – examples and modeling what great educators should do – outstanding!  And I can’t go without recognizing the #4life folks. Through the Google + community I have connected with some lifers and people with some very creative talents and even more so the willingness to share and take new people into the fold. I am learning so much and appreciate the diversity and many views and directions.

I wish for the traditional students – you find the nugget of gold in this experience and carry it forward. It is not just a 15 week course – it is a model of how life is full and how you can create and give to community. My challenge to the grad students and the other open course followers – QUIT staying on the sidelines and let us know you are there!! You are missing the energy. Connect with more than just the open line feed.

Can’t wait to see the #noir106 character transformations, and the creations. I am looking forward to staying connected with you past your course if you see the opportunity – you have a fan for your work and your life!

and some days I am a groupie – in awe of your work,
some days a stalker just viewing, learning, and feeling left in the dust –
and some days just not there at all – but never you are never out of mind. I will be back or just a post/tweet away. Keep creating, learning, and sharing. You can make a difference. Wishing you all continued growth and success.

These comments in Twitter were totally making me red faced and wondering how I could slide back into the shadows!  It is just what should be done to respect the work of others and their learning even if it reminds me that I can’t do it quietly without notice. But thanks for the shout out – now back to focusing on the students! Sometimes I can forget that there is a whole world out there watching the interactions.

Thanks to all for your acceptance into the community.

Post script to Bond: Heretic! LOL – first time I have been called that! Kinda like the role HA! Tend to think of myself just more accepting of many things and not one way – always open to the next view. Hence chasing shiny objects category – I consider not being able to say “no” at times a character strength and not a fault.  Also a reason for a couple of masters degrees instead of doctoral studies – I didn’t want a narrow path  – diversity is rich – just an opinion. 😉

4 thoughts on “Trying to stay Straight on Down the Line”

  1. So, it turns out that @Cogdog is responsible for bringing you into our little community! He has much to answer for. He brought me in too!

    “But I believe in its foundation, methods, and philosophy. It is a game changer”

    I learnt about it through a boring boring boring LMS course about ‘innovation in online learning’. I quit that and, like you, cleared the deck and did Headless 13 more than full time. What you say about your why, echoes strongly with my why. Even from a distance I could see there was something there that embodied what I believe learning could be, online or off. I am not even going to start to talk about professional development and higher education…it saddens me to see what we call education in more formal settings. I left my business school, went back part time, and will leave again once I fulfil my duty of care to my current students. I cannot fight this battle alone. I too feel that,

    “I go the route of failing forward. I believe in personalized learning, creating my path and reaching learner independence. I believe our economy and world needs people who know how to become independent learners for their success and the success of our communities.”

    And yet I see education going in exactly the opposite direction. Nick Hearney posted this this week:

    and his tweet said – the ‘joys’ of banking…(re: Freire’s banking method)

    I teach self managed learning in business. I hear the ‘…but I want to be spoon fed’ whine far more often than my idealistic self would care to admit. Perceived economic pressures do not allow for engaging in ‘complexity and mess’, just quick transactions. The joy for me about some of the amazing educators I have met through DS106 is that I feel my optimism grow again and that may be by creating the Open Web University – we are shaping something that future learners might use away from the constraints of commercialised transactional education….may be.

    A joy to read you post! Thank you.

  2. It warms me much to read your path to the current (and hence beyond) space, even if y’all are all black and white shadow figures in #noir106

    This resonates with some current thinking with my current project to create a professional development approach to a ds106 experience. I believe its possible, but what is ringing true that without a high level of self-motivation, be it what you describe as a fierce determination, or what the UMW students have as this being a for credit experience, it can fall flat for most people.

    The feel overwhelmed, but (i think) its partly because they are dabbling in it, not deeply. Or they are trying to squeeze it in a few partial cracks of time.

    As an open participant (and that was my first electric experience) you have to almost be borderline sickly infected.

    Which is a good thing IMHO.

    • thanks.

      Yes- you are correct. I have come to know about myself that I don’t fit in molds. My work was in trying to find that holy grail in keeping creativity and curious nature that we are born with alive and not have it eliminated by the education system. While there are great things like ds106 and many other frameworks learners are often stuck at the motivation stage and educators spend all their time there with students when ehy should be helping build and guide to learner independence. The team I was on constructed some thoughts on this that my colleague Jim Rickabaugh (who is a strong writer/communicator) wrote up as a short white paper. Learning Independence Continuum

      I think many of the UMW students will not know until later down their path the opportunity and richness they were a part of because of all the other things coming at them and not being able to step back and understand it is different because they are in a system that does not align yet.

      Hope to stay in touch as you explore the professional learning aspect – it is a hard nut to crack – but if enough of us keep hitting it – it may happen.!

      rambling…..Sometimes I think the PD route hasn’t worked – especially with educators because they take it for granted that they are experts in teaching instead of becoming experts in learning which would make them better educators. They have to live and walk the talk they expect of their students so all are successful.


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