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We’re Chained to the World, and We All Gotta Pull…

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Reading Martha Burtis’ (Neatness has no place in education.) this morning, and processing it and Tom’s Giving it Away against the crackling energy, the “smell of ozone and giddy, prickly-skin feeling you get when you accidentally fry a power supply or are about to be hit by lighting” of Jabiz’s Keep the Flow Going.  I am reflecting on my own experience of DS106, my own sense of urgency and energy and creativity and monkey mind, and how different the act of sprinting in purposeful circles through the ZPD feels than giving workshops on and managing the LMS, which by some cruel twist of fate falls to me in my professional capacity.

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently tried to explain the dangerous, potentially subversive, elemental energy of DS106 to a group of colleagues, when asked how they might harness same for their own online classes.  In Bags of Gold, D’Arcy Norman  states:

A professor could facilitate an educational experience as part of a course using the Blackboard discussion board that could be every bit as engaging and powerful as one crafted out of distributed and decentralized bits of personally managed ephemera.

While I agree with this statement, having witnessed some amazing learning taking place with relatively mundane tools, I have to wonder whether better (more integrated, more personal, more expressive, more social, more inclusive, more expansive, more mind-like) tools lend themselves to the creation of better learning environments.  My conclusion is that they do.  That being said, a blog is just a blog, after all.  A community of learners takes tools and makes them more than they are, or rather makes them exactly what they are:  tools.  The learning takes place in and around them.

Which brings me back to Tom and Martha and Jabiz and the questions from my colleagues and the quote from Tom Waits:

We’re chained to the world, and we all gotta pull.

Is the energy of DS106 scalable?  What about the mechanics?  From my perspective (Author’s note – I’m a professional educator, not an undergrad) DS106 is something of a meta course – it’s about what it’s about, if you will.  It focuses on the creative act, on media, on storytelling.  Would it work across disciplines?  What about Chemistry?  Would the DS106 experience work for a “content heavy” course in the hard sciences?  Is it skewed toward the affective domain?  Would it only work for courses that are, via their disciplines or their curriculum design or individual faculty, “reflective.”

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