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Headless Week 15: The End is Near (or is it?)

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Believe it or not, Ripley, this is the last phase of the open ds106 Digital Storytelling course— aka Headless ds106. For anyone left, we have a final story project challenge and a few closing bits of reflection we ask you to share. The deadline is anytime between now and the end of time. But if you missed it or lost your head elsewhere, no worries… we plan to repackage the syllabus as an ongoing open course for anyone who wants the experience, at any time. Learn more about the headless ds106…!


IN this TED Talk, JJ Abrams offers the idea of a mystery box as a core component of his storytelling– “The mystery box is a catalyst for imagination… maybe more important than knowledge.” Pay attention, especially for your last stiry project, to what he says about the investment in character (Jaws is not a movie about a shark, but a man), and how the powerful element of what you leave out can be used effectively.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by gak

It seems just like yesterday that you were doing laps around ds106 Bootcamp, but you might see the sign posts ahead. That’s right, everyone, we are in the final stretch of this round of headless ds106. We impose no deadline here, and hope some folks take on the Final Story Challenge at some point, end of the month? Next year?

If you have been listening to anything about ds106, you know that it never really ends.

Final Project Story Challenge

The last major thing to do is to create a narrative built around a character of your choosing and media from the ds106 assignment bank. See the full details posted as the Final Story project Specs

We recommend that you create single posts for each assignment you di to create the media for your story, each one written up as a response to a specific ds106 assignment (or if you did something different, write it up like one), properly tagged, etc. so it gets attached to the assignment as an example. This is where you talk about how the media was made.

Your final story should be written up as a standalone blog post, with all of the media embedded within. And for dog’s sake, CREATE A CLEVER TITLE! Nothing grabs a reader’s interest more than a story called “Final Project” (yawn).

Tutorials, Assignments. Daily Creates Created

Hey, if you have not done so already, how about some tutorials to assignments> You just need to use the tutorial tags on any assignment to have it pop up there. Consider doing one for an assignment you do for the final story project.

Or think about helping ds106 out by adding a new assignment or sending us one or two or a few dozen Daily Creates

Paying it Forward

As you are all soon to be ds106 alumni (see Dean Jim Groom for information where to get your cap and gown), we ask that you create an advice piece for future students of open ds106.

It should be in the form of some kind of media (audio, video, set of animated gifs, etc.) It should NOT be a written essay- media is best. In this piece, consider what you would tell students of ds106 in the future about this class. What did you get out of it? What should they expect? How should they approach the work? What will they love/hate about the class? What will surprise them most about the class? What will they get out of the experience?

When you do this, make it conversational as if you are really talking to a future student. For reference, see examples created by previous students. Make it memorable!

Optional (isn’t this all) Reflection on Creative Flow

Or as another option, we are interested in understanding how ds106 might relate to the concept of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as “flow”

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, this positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his fellow researchers began researching flow after Csikszentmihalyi became fascinated by artists who would essentially get lost in their work. Artists, especially painters, got so immersed in their work that they would disregard their need for food, water and even sleep. Thus, the origin of research on the theory of flow came about when Csikszentmihalyi tried to understand this phenomenon experienced by these artists.

Or hear his TED Talk describing the concept

See also Senia Maymin’s article on Creativity and Flow

Did you have a flow experience in ds106? Can you narrate back how this developed around one of your creative pieces– Note the idea of activity taking place on a scale of low to high skill level versus low to high challenge– and that there is an optimum channel of flow where creativity happens:


When you were working through a ds106 creation, did you tune everything out? What was thsat focus like? What was the motivation to finish?

We are just curious about the creative process.

Any Other Reflections?

Please write up on your blog anything else that might help future ds106ers understand what this was about. Some suggestions

  • Link back to and review your Week 3 blog post about your definition of Digital Storytelling – How has (nor not) your concept of storytelling evolved having (almost) finished this class?
  • Write a reflection on your final story project and link to/summarize the “making of” media assignment posts (one post per each assignment created for the final project). More than sharing us how hard (or easy) it was to make, tell us about what the story means to you, or what you hope others see in it, or what you might have wanted to do differently.
  • Summarize how you contributed to the ds106 community- not links or counts, but a qualitative summary of how well you participated in twitter, blog comments, the ds106 show, the group projects, ds106 radio, etc.
  • Summarize and provide links to your tutorial/assignment/daily create contributions.

And, for now, you headless ds106ers we say so long and thanks for all the fish.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Angela Mabray

Or like that Arnold guy says, we will be back


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