By COLLEEN HUBER
The professors of University of Mary Washington’s Digital Storytelling class (ds106) fundraised $11,992 in 19 hours for a new server for the course through an online funding program called Kickstarter.
Jim Groom, director of learning and teaching technologies, set a two-week timeline, concluding April 16, with an initial goal to raise $4,200 to pay for a new, more powerful server, but surpassed that target by over 300 percent.
As the site expanded, Groom and other ds106 teachers, Martha Burtis, special projects coordinator, and Alan Levine, felt ds106 needed money to continue growing.
The idea to use Kickstarter as an online crowd-funding source came from Tim Owen, instructional technology specialist.
The donators come from the open community and those who contributed received rewards, such as a ds106 t-shirt or a once-a-day Daily Create Calendar, according to Owen.
Because the class was the reason for the copious amounts of money raised, the professors of ds106 and Owen believe that the community should decide how to use the extra money.
However, the professors do have a few ideas of what they could use the money for, such as buying a ds106 bus that would go across the country to different schools and universities to introduce the “ds106 way,” according to Groom.
“ds106 is an aggregation hub; it is the central site were students and the community can upload their work. It is building a community centered class through feedback and encouragement,” said Groom.
However, the “ds106 way” is often hard for outsiders to understand.
The class uses the web as a framework as a way to move away from learning management systems and into the online realm. No student in the class is working under a learning management system; instead, they are running and building their own site, according to Groom.
The class tries to get students to rethink how they take ownership of their own work and identity online.
“The class is difficult to express in some sort of succinct synopsis,” said Burtis. “You have to talk to people who have done it to fully understand.”
Burtis believes students develop a deeper understanding of identity by taking ds106.
“ds106 is full of infectious energy,” said Levine.
The class is a trajectory of involvement on the web. The web is itself an environment with its own norms. ds106 studies that space, allowing students to connect and remix culture, according to Burtis.
“ds106 is also about how we communicate in a visual vernacular,” said Groom.
The program falls into the current culture and the professors of ds106 believe it is important for students to understand how ds106 works and allow them to experiment, according to Groom.
“It is an invitation to participate. It is important as culture forms, we are creating the culture instead of it being given to us,” said Levine.