If you’re considering taking DS106 in the future, here’s some words of advice:
First of all- I completely recommend the course. It’s a huge creative outlet and is a nice refreshing change from the standard courses offered at UMW. That’s not to say the course is easy at all, in fact it’s a huge challenge. Far too often classes are very by the book and it’s all about memorization and imitation- both of which DS106 is not. Each week has been a challenge even to computer science majors as far as learning new technologies and employing them successfully.
What to expect: lots of hard work, lots of fun, and lots of learning. Some of the projects have been fairly easy- but all of them have required time and dedication. Not all hard work is dreadful though- I have really enjoyed fighting through the challenges that I’ve faced and I really like my work even more because of it. You will definitely have fun in this class though. It’s fun working in groups to complete assignments and if you like art and exploring your creative side- you will definitely love the class. Another thing I loved about the course is that even moderately computer literate people like myself can learn from it. We’ve explored tools that I never would have known were available on the web and everyone in the class can point out at least one new thing they’ve learned throughout the semester.
If you’re considering taking the class just to fill the ALP gened requirement- a word of caution. Unlike most geneds- this class definitely takes time and effort. I’ll be honest- that was one of the main reasons I signed up for the class, but through the course of the semester I’ve come to really see the class as more than just a gened and really enjoyed it. I think I will definitely keep my blog past the end of the semester and love that I’ve created this little nook for myself on the web.
What not to do in the course: PROCRASTINATE! Each of the projects in this class- no matter how small- take time. From brainstorming to finish, it is really hard to complete these assignments quickly and put out high quality work that you can be proud of. Sure it can be done- but it’s super stressful. I’ve run into technology issues on more than one of the assignments (as you can see documented in other posts), but a lot of what I’ve learned in the class has come from struggling through those issues with the help of the web and other awesome students in the class. That is definitely one of the hardest things about this class- staying on top of things so they don’t get piled up. If you’re thinking about the course- you definitely need time management skills.
If I could do something differently about how I handled the course- I would have dedicated more time to the classwork. I’m taking a full courseload of science classes with labs and I work 30 hours a week so although I set time aside, I feel like I could have done better on some assignments if I were just a full-time student with no job.
Overall, I have really enjoyed this class and wish that more UMW courses were as freeform as DS106 is. It’s definitely a whole different beast- one that I think you should definitely tackle.