One of  favourite online learning activities is DS106. I've blogged about it here had have a whole blog where I publish my DS106 learning.

Ds106 is a rather unique experience, it is an undergraduate course at the university of Mary Washington(and other places) on Digital Storytelling but anyone in the world can join in.

Last Autumn I took part in the Headless 13 iteration of DS106, a course without a link to a 'real' class for open online participants only.

I enjoyed the course immensely and was a amazed at the creativity and energy  of my fellow participants. At the end of the course one person, Mariana Funes,  posted a reflection on the course in 106 bullet points. Mariana was interested in teasing these ideas out  a bit more and asked me if I'd be interested in helping out with a podcast and internet radio show. I was delighted.

We are planning 106 episodes, each 15 minutes long, to be broadcast at 8pm on Sunday evenings on DS106 Radio. They will then be archived as a podcast, currently in EDUtalk.

The podcast is called in punning fashion “The Ds106 Good Spell” and we are having a bit of fun around. Imagery, slogans, and audio branding.

The idea of the show is to think about DS106, online learning, creativity and collaboration.   Like some of Mariana's bullet points DS106 can, at first, feel a little had to understand from the outside, hopefully we can help decode both bullets and the course in a way that is interesting and informative to others and fun for ourselves.

If 106 episodes are not enough we started with Episode 0 giving some background:

We now have Episode 1 under our belts:

and episode 2 will be broadcast on Sunday  6th April 2014. You can listen live at DS106 Radio and we are archiving the audio on  106 DS106 Bullets page on EDUtalk.

DS106, digital storytelling 106:

is an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington, but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster.

from: About ds106

DS106 can be difficult to understand without becoming involved. It is easy to bounce off the surface of animated gif twitter chat, but there is a lot of learning going on both on the surface and by looking s little deeper.

It is worth having a look at the syllabus.

It covers the basics of setting up an online presence and space for the storytelling you will be come involved in, a blog, twitter and flickr accounts and the like.

The course then goes through theory and practice of digital storytelling, covering design, images, video and audio. In each section of the course participants can add to the assignments as well completing them, the course is, to some extent, built by the students.

What, in my opinion, has made ds106 stand out from the crowd of bigger online courses is the atmosphere and the guidance provided by the instructors at UMW, other locations and from repeat students. The dedication of the instructors to model what they expect from students and to openly comment on the students published work is phenomenal. What is more they do this for open online students. They have also managed to install this work ethic in the participants, there is a high level of engagement between learners and some blurring of roles.

The other exciting thing about ds106 is the riffing of one participant on artefacts produced by another, participants are encouraged to share their creations with cc licences and to remix the work of others. They are also encouraged, required for students at UMW, to give the back story, working methods and ideas surrounding their assignments.

This iteration of DS106 is a we bit different, there are no instructors:

What we are going to do is to publish every Monday a suggested set of activities and creative assignments that you are free to do as you see fit or interested. These are republications of previous materials from ds106 courses taught at the University of Mary Washington since 2011, but this time around, there are no registered students, just the open folks.

from: Getting Closer to Headless #ds106 – CogDogBlog

I’ve deliberately used the word participants above as there is a blurring or rolls between instructors, students and open-online-participants in a normal ds106 course, this one will push that a bit.

I’ve had a huge amount of fun (my ds106 blog), learned a lot about digital stroytelling and online learning dipping in and out of ds106, if you are interested in online education, learning about digital media and openness I cannot recommend it enough.

DS106 Fall 2013 Headless starts on the 26th of August. You can find out what to do here: Coming Soon! The Headless ds106 Course

Piratebox Running

I was hoping to catch up with the Webmaker teachtheweb mooc and get some DS106ing done this weekend, but I got carried away hoisting a jolly rodger.

Almost two years ago I had a go at getting a PirateBox going.

A PirateBox is a self-contained mobile communication and file sharing device. Simply turn it on to transform any space into a free and open communications and file sharing network.


The PirateBox solves a technical/social problem by providing people in the same physical space with an easy way to anonymously communicate and exchange files. This obviously has larger cultural and political implications thus the PirateBox also serves as an artistic provocation.

PirateBox site

As I wrote then Obviously TeachMeets do not need the subversion of tracking and preservation of user privacy that a PirateBox offers. Nor would sharing of copyrighted material be desirable, but It might be fun to have a PirateBox at TeachMeets.from: A PirateBox for TeachMeet?

I thought a teachmeet pirate box:

would allow folk to share files with others at the meet. If it was a traveling project, the box could go from TeachMeet to TeachMeet spreading files as it went. This would provide a sponsor-less goodie bag. Folk would be free to share what they liked, perhaps presenters would share presentations, digital musicians give away background music etc.

Obviously lots of the TeachMeet crowd already share many things online, A TM PirateBox would be a fun side project that might add to the buzz during a TeachMeet and be a concrete way of connecting different events.

I ask for donations of a fiver on twitter and several folk stepped up. I then started trying and repeatedly failing to sort out the router I bought. It turned out to be the wrong model (not apparent on the box) and it left me with a bricked ruler and a little guilt.

I mostly forgot about it except when visiting CogDogBlog where the links to The StoryBox rubbed a bit of salt in my wounds. Then as part of the webmaker mooc I read, Open Web Projects on Vibrant Outlook which had some details about LibraryBox an offshoot to the original pirate box. I ended up on the pirate box site again and saw that there was a new router in town

As I was shopping for some hard drives on Amazon I added a TP-Link TL-MR3020 Router to my basket.

Yesterday I went through the instructions and they worked. Apart from one wee problem when I made a mistake in setting an ip address (exactly the same problem @cogdog had, so I am in good company). Today I set out to customise the interface a little, I used some of the files from Nargren/PirateBox · GitHub and manage to do some. I found this quite an unusual way for me to work, using the ssh command in the terminal and the vi editor. After a few gulps I managed to start work on the interface.

I am hoping that someone might try the box out at TeachMeet TMTablet the week after next….

Thanks to

The folk who supported my initial router, I have a PirateBox TeachMeet sticker for you, in no particular order:

Neil Winton, Caroline Breyley, Olivia Wexelstein, jen Deyenberg, David Muir, Ian Hallahan, Katie Barrowman, Doug Belshaw, Drew Buddie, Drew Burrett and David Noble.

I’ve not posted much here recently, I have made a few posts over at my DS106 blog including in December:

Mostly playing around with gifs for the ds106 GIFfest which leads to messing about with JavaScript, flickr &

I had a way of generation a list of images and audio found with the same search word. I’ve now improved this to make a image/audio slide show like the one below. The new interface is rough as I’ve just added a button to get an iframe code that produces something like the one below.

Getting all the audio to play has been a bit messy, but it works for me in Safari, FF & Chrome on my mac and FF and IE9 on windows. Probably of little use to most folk as wordpress blogs, for one, usually do not allow iFrames.

Here are a couple more: drip and 404

Over the next few months, our focus will be on setting out the user requirements for Glow Plus and understanding the platform requirements that will underpin it.  The members of the Group bring a wealth of experience but others will have important views to share too.  You can follow and contribute to the discussion on Twitter using #GlowPlus.

Professor Muffy Calder
from: ICT in Education Excellence Group – The view from the Chair

I’ve made the odd #glowplus tweet over the last week or two, rendered useless by: Older Tweet results for #glowplus from:johnjohnston are unavailable. Luckly, if you want to pay attention to me, I’ve also saved them on pinboard. Given the focus on user and platform requirements I though I might expand a bit on the links I tweeted:

We need teachers

Left to its own devices, the mob will augment, accessorize, spam, degrade and noisify whatever they have access to, until it loses beauty and function and becomes something else.

from: Seth’s Blog: A tacky mess: the masses vs. great design

For me, this post points to the fact we need teachers in the system, giving pupils, or even teacher-learners, an online space is not a solution to anything. In these spaces we need teachers to be actively involved. This is what seems to separate the likes of ds106 or Colin Maxwell’s Ed Tech Creative Collective from more automated, impersonal or self-services courses: the online involvement of the leader/teachers with the learner. We need spaces that are designed to make interaction between teacher and learner as easy as possible.

For example, glow provides wordpress blogs, the wordpress technology can tick many boxes (see again ds106). Unfortunately the implementation in glow excludes the use of RSS and aggregation that would allow teachers to keep up with a class full of e-portfolios without many many clicks.

Watch your users

You don’t need to guess what your users might want or how they will experience your product. Just watch them.

from: Shane Pearlman Help Us Help WordPress | Smashing WordPress

This posts is for developers working on extending wordpress, I feel it will fit with any system, the main thrust of the advice is to watch your users, in our case pupils and teachers, using the system.

Most days of my working life I watch teacher, pupils or both using glow. Even watching experienced users I see their mice move to where they expect the next click to be, this is consistant, they are often disappointed. In setting out the user requirements I hope the ICT in Education Excellence Group will be able to take the time to watch users, not just relay on what their knowledge and assumptions. From the example in this post and my own experience, this need not be many users, and not take too long.

Learners owning their own spaces

I want to think of education using a vocabulary of creating, shaping, discovering, sharing, imagining and adapting, not one of owning, selling, earning, adding, collaborating, or marketing.

from: Personalization and Responsibility ~ Stephen’s Web

This, in my mind goes along with:

I’ve been blogging here for over 10 years. On my domain, running my software pushing out HTML when you visit the site on any device and RSS or ATOM when you look at it with Google Reader (which 97% of you do.) I control this domain, this software and this content. The feed is full content and the space is mine. Tim nails it so I’ll make this super clear. If you decide to use a service where you don’t control your content, you’re renting.

Own your space on the Web, and pay for it. Extra effort, but otherwise you’re a sharecropper. – Tim Bray

In a time where we are all gnashing our teeth about Twitter’s API changes that may lock out many 3rd party developers, Google Plus’s lack of content portability or lack of respect for the permalink,

from: Your words are wasted – Scott Hanselman

Which I quoted in a previous post.

Jaye, a member of the Glow – Schools IT Excellence Group, blogged about facebook replacing websites, and

Do we need to spend millions developing intranets like GlowPlus when platforms like this are or will be available.

as I commented I find this

a depressing thought. FB is a closed system centralised , easy to get info into but hard to get it out. There are a lot more interesting and exciting ideas out there. See for example this oldie:

Learners keep ownership and can enter co-operative spaces via aggregation.

I am much more excited about the possibilities the Charlie Love demonstrates with glew where sharing out as well as aggregating in is easy. The potential of using wordpress with the feedwordpress plugin, which is already a glew feature, is huge. Teachers could set up projects where pupils could join in by signing up and tagging posts on their own blog, FeedWordPress pulling together everything in the one place even though it is published in the learner’s own.

I also imagine a learner at some point, exporting their glowplus blog at some point, moving it to a domain of their own, this surely could be part of the picture of a successful Scottish life long learner?

Iloveu Colour 240

At the start of this year I became involved with DS106 an open online course on Digital Storytelling. I posted 20 or 30 articles here categorised as DS106

This summer I have signed up again for the DS106 summer Camp Magic MacGuffin but will be posting at a new blog I’ve set up here: 106 drop in. This is a wordpress blog, which plays better with the DS106 aggregation scheme and will allow me to play a bit with WordPress.

There will be a minecraft element to the course this time, I’ve paid for the software but have only manages very short times on the server before being killed. A whole new world in may ways.

I recommend DS106 if you are interest in playing with digital media, it is easy to join in and you can do as little or as much as you like.

Tell a story using nothing but sound effects. There can be no verbal communication, only sound effects. Use at least five different sounds that you find online. The story can be no longer than 90 seconds.

When I was working out what to do with this one I seemed to have missed sound effects and no longer than 90 seconds.

This is an idealised walk combining sounds I’ve recorded over the last year or two when walking, some as audioboos.

Starting with traffic, there is bird song & rooks, footsteps through some wet ground, ducks, footsteps on a rocky path, a raven, a hill burn (small stream) finishing with the sound of one lark. It is mostly pretty quiet. it is also about 5 minutes long.

Five minutes of footsteps and tweets

This is as noted above a lot longer than the 90 seconds limit. While this particular example may not hold a listener for 5 minutes I do think that longer audio without speech has its place. Last year when I went to Field Recording at the Scottish Music Centre I noted:

what I'd take away was the quality of listening shown by the audience & presenters. The time taken. Timothy Cooper's Blast beach gave plenty of time to look at the images: audio can be slower. I am thinking again about Ian Rawes' "the ravenous eye and the patient ear", Tim Nunn's theatre performances in the dark.

Make a custom map using Google Maps.

Use Google Maps to create your own custom map that includes photographs of places.

I’ve been playing with google maps and the google maps api for a while so was please t osee some familiar territory for this Assignment.

This afternoon Dorothy, my wife, and I took a walk round Ardinning Loch, we do this nearly every week often twice a week in the summer, It is a short walk that is always interesting. Ardinning is a SWT reserve.

I used Trails on my phone to record a kml and gps track. The kml file was imported int oa new google map. I uploaded the photos it was then just a matter of dropping on some pins, filling in a title and pasting in the url to the image file.

View Ardinning in a larger map

Another approach

Over the last few year I’ve played with developing a workflow for creating maps like this using the GoogleMaps API. For this I use SuperCard, a mac scripting application. The project allows me to import a gpx file exported from Trails, get exif data for some pictures, iPhone photos have location data imbedded (It also lets me add locations to other pictures by comparing the time taken with the gps file). It then exports a gpx file which I upload to this website and a php file created a map.

Here is the Ardinning Walk map 120303 Ardinning and a whole set of Mapped Walks. In my opinion this has a few advantages over using google maps, you can embed audio & video, and the popup boxes link in sequence. It is also a faster to produce. Obviously it has the disadvantage of being a wee bit trickier to set up.

I’ve a fair number of blog posts going into this in a bit more detail: tagged googlemaps.

But what is it good for?

I think these sort of maps add another dimension to telling a story or presenting information. helping to tell a story in space as well as time. I can see this being incorporated into all sorts of class room projects, either for mapping learning experiences or creating fictional maps. This one The Kidnapped Trail – Google Maps is a great example of the possibilities.

A little bit of DS106

It loks like I can kill two birds here: Google Maps Story — MISSION: DS106


NYPL Labs : Stereogranimator

Create and share animated GIFs and 3D anaglyphs using more than 40,000 stereographs from The New York Public Library.

Since I’ve spent a fair bit of time animating gifs for DS106 of late this was interesting.

Stereoscopic photography recreates the illusion of depth by utilizing the binocularity of human vision. Because our two eyes are set apart, each eye sees the world from a slightly different angle. Our brains combine these two different eye-images into one, a phenomenon that enables us to “see,” ever so slightly, around the sides of objects, providing spatial depth and dimension. Stereoscopic views, or stereographs, consist of two nearly twin photographs — one for the left eye, one for the right. Viewing the side-by-side images though a special lens arrangement called a stereoscope helps our brains combine the two flat images and “see” the illusion of objects in spatial depth.


The Stereogranimator joins these latter-day adventures of the venerable GIF, mashing up an important early genre of internet folk art with a nearly forgotten species of folk photography.

You get to play with the creation of the gif, this creates a 2 frame animated gif and alternates between them.

Bonus link:Create 3D anaglyph images with 3 lines of Ruby code « saush

Update Colin maxwell tweeted Start 3D photos: 3D photo sharing and printing made easy