ds106 Spring 2020 Syllabus

Instructor: Paul Bond

Location: The Internet

Term: Spring 2020

Email, Office Hours, and Location

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @phb256

Office: The Internet. Online conferences can be arranged at our mutual convenience.

Please Note: The course syllabus is subject to change depending on the way in which the class unfolds. This class is not premised upon coverage, but rather focused on creative application and interaction with a series of ideas and a wide-range of media. This 15 week session is completely online. Success in this class hinges on managing time, proactively seeking assistance when needed, and committing regular effort several days a week on the work.

Course Description

ds106 is focused on developing a broad range of skills in telling stories across various media including, but not limited to, the following: text, photography, design, audio, video, code, and mashups. The various stories you create will be shared openly through your own online space(s) that will, over time, come to define a broader narrative of your development throughout this class. Your personal site is the canvas for a semester’s worth of art, and hopefully well beyond that. 

Course Objectives

  • To develop skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression
  • To frame a digital identity wherein you become both a practitioner in and interrogator of various new modes of networking
  • To critically examine the digital landscape of communication technologies as emergent narrative forms and genres

Course Materials

Internet: There is no textbook for this class, however individual readings/videos will be assigned and will all be available online. Success in this class is very much dependent on a reliable, fast internet connection.

Media: Over the course of the semester, you will be asked on a regular basis to review certain example “texts” (these may be written works, collections of images, audio pieces, films/videos, or Web sites). Whenever possible, we will provide a link to free, digitized versions of these texts. However, some of them (particularly films or episodes of TV shows) may not be freely available on the Internet. In those cases, you may need to buy/rent an online version; the typical cost for this shouldn’t be more than $3-$5. We recommend that you budget around $20-$30 over the course of the semester to obtain these texts. We encourage you to work together to keep your costs down! (Arrange to view films together, for example.)

Computer: Make sure you have a computer you can access whenever needed, not a borrowed one. It will need to be the best one you can have available. It should include a built in or attached camera for live video sessions, and you should have a pair of headphones or earbuds. Over the course of the semester, you will probably need to download and install some free and/or open source software to complete various media assignments, so make sure you have the necessary access/permissions to do this.

Web Accounts/Software: You will need to set up accounts on various social media sites we will be using for class. For the most part, no specific software is required; you will need to use what you have or choose from web-based/free/trial versions of software to create media.

Web Hosting Account & Domain: You will be expected to manage a web hosting account with a LAMP/cPanel Web environment that will be associated with a domain name (Web address) of your choosing; this will be provided for free to all registered UMW students via http://umwdomains.com

Class Web Site: The locus of the course’s online activity will be ds106.us. You should always use this URL to enter the course; it is where you will find information about assignments and activities all semester. Over the course of the term, we will also make use of two other important ds106 sites:

  • ds106 Handbook: Resources and tutorials for blogging and media creation
  • ds106 Assignment Repository: This collection of digital storytelling assignments has been developed over the course of the last few years. We will frequently be drawing upon this collection for course assignments. You will also be creating assignments as part of your coursework.
  • The Daily Create: These daily creative assignments ask you to spend no more than 10-15 minutes experimenting with either photography, video, audio, or text based on a pre-defined assignment.

Course Activities & Expectations

Overall Course Process

The work for every week will be posted Fridays to the ds106 web site and will appear on the sidebar of the page. It will also be listed under the Syllabus menu at the top of the site. Each weekly post will outline the work for the week and will include videos and readings as assigned.

We cannot re-iterate enough how important it is to start your work over the weekend. If you follow the advice of recent students, you will hear again and again how this is not a course in which you can do the work at the last minute.

By the following Friday at midnight, you are required to have completed the week’s work and to write a summary post of all your activity for that week.

To recap, here’s how you should expect each week to unfold:


Go to the course site and review the weekly assignment announcement at the top of the home page. Begin working or planning for your assignments.

Saturday through Friday:

  • Complete all of the work for the week.
  • Use your blog to post each storytelling assignment as you complete it.
  • Use your blog to post any reflections that have been assigned.
  • Complete the assigned Daily Creates and make sure they are showing up on the Daily Create site
  • Follow your classmates’ work and comment on it.
  • Use Twitter and your blog to share your successes, questions, etc.

Friday by Midnight:

Post your Weekly Summary on your blog. This post must provide links to all of the work that you completed during the week (including Daily Creates), and should offer your reflection on the week’s activities. (See below for more information about weekly summary posts.)


This class will in many ways be anchored around your ongoing, regular participation through the various technologies you will be experimenting with. If you are not present, you will compromise the success of the class (as well as YOUR success in it). We expect active and engaged participation.

For the purpose of this entirely online version of ds106, presence and participation are determined by the degree to which you are actively and thoughtfully engaging with your classmates and the course materials via the various online spaces used for the class. Participation will be evaluated based upon the following kinds of activities:

  • Narrating your course experience. Throughout the semester, you are required to use your blog to regularly provide updates about your course activities. These posts should be substantive, thorough, and reflective.
  • Commenting upon your classmates’ work. You are expected to respond thoughtfully and critically to the work that others in the class are creating. This will be accomplished in several ways, primarily through regular, thoughtful blog comments and feedback on Twitter.
  • Engagement with social media. The online nature of this course requires us all to work especially hard to build a learning community. In large part, we expect this community to emerge out of various spaces and tools that you will be asked to use. We will be looking for your regular presence in spaces like Twitter, SoundCloud and YouTube. Complaining that you “don’t understand” the tool is not a suitable excuse. You will only begin to understand by using and engaging.

ds106 BootCamp

The first week of class will consist of ds106 “Bootcamp.” During this time, you will be given a list of tasks that you must complete in order to demonstrate that you understand the basic tasks and activities that will be required of you during the semester. During this time, you will begin the process of personalizing your own web publishing space.

The Daily Create

Regular, creative exercises are at the heart of ds106, and to this end over the course of the semester we will be expecting every student to complete between 2-4 Daily Create assignments each week (the number to complete each week will be provided by the Instructors at the start of the week). In order to get full credit for this assignment you will need to complete it the day the assignment was posted as well as tag it according to the directions given with the prompt. You will be expected to include the work you’ve done for your Daily Creates in your Weekly Summary posts.

Digital Storytelling Assignments

Throughout the semester, we will assign a number of digital storytelling projects using a variety of tools, techniques, and technologies. For the most part, these assignments will come from the ds106 Assignment Repository. You are expected to complete all of these assignments by the weekly deadline and share them on your site, and in your weekly summary. Your grade on these will reflect both your success at completing these assignments as well as a detailed commentary on your blog describing your process and any difficulties you encountered. In other words, you will be expected to not only complete an assignment, but also share with everyone how you did it. What’s more, if you have difficulty with an assignment we will always expect you to attempt it, but you can use your blog to share insight into what you found challenging and how you negotiated the requirements.

Again three components are required to earn credit on your assignment work: (for the full details see the ds106 Handbook section on How to Write Up Assignments)

  1. The work itself must be embedded as media to view directly in your posts. You will not get credit if you merely provide a LINK to an image, video, etc.
  2. A narration of the story behind it, what was the inspiration? What is the meaning to you? What are the elements of storytelling within it?
  3. A description of the process, tools, techniques used to create it, as well as hyperlinked attribution to any source media you did not create yourself.

Generally speaking, as long as we see a commitment to completing an assignment creatively and sharing your process thoroughly, you can expect to do well on it. If you don’t complete an assignment, or do not include all three elements above, you will receive a zero.

Also, keep in mind each assignment in the ds106 assignment repository has two tags. You are required to use both tags from each assignment correctly to receive credit. It is your responsibility to double check the spelling of the tags and ensure they are correct for each and every assignment you create.

You are expected to review the course site regularly and to complete all assignments on-time.

Creating (and Completing) Your Own Assignments

Over the course of the semester we would like each of you to come up with ideas for new assignments. Each assignment you create must be for a different section of the course (i.e., visual, design, audio, video, and mashup/remix)–feel free to create more than, but that two is the minimum requirement. The assignments should be relatively short and creative. In addition, you must do the assignment you create and document your own process for completing it. You can submit the ones you create at http://assignments.ds106.us/submit-an-assignment/.

Remember, each assignment has to be tagged correctly to receive credit—and those tags will be created automatically immediately after you submit the assignment. Don’t forget to tag your example of the assignment you complete.

In addition, since you will gain experience at doing daily creates we ask that you submit at least two new TDC challenges for future students: http://daily.ds106.us/add/

Weekly Summary Posts

Every week, you will be required to submit a summary post by the weekly deadline (these are always due by Fridays at midnight unless otherwise noted!). These posts should include links to or embedded media from all the work you have done for the week: storytelling assignments, daily creates, reflections etc. In addition, you should use this post to reflect upon your activity of the week:

  •      How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignments?
  •      What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn?
  •      What would you do differently? What questions do you have?
  •      What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work?

These weekly summaries are what we will use to find all of your weekly work as we determine your grade for that week. In addition, they are an opportunity for you tell us how you feel you are doing and what’s giving you trouble, overall, in the course. If you forget to include something in a weekly post, we may not realize you’ve completed it. If you fail to submit a weekly summary, you will get no grade for that week!

Mid-Term and Final Projects

Radio Show

By the mid-term point of the semester, each of you will be required to have worked on a group radio show project. You will be given several weeks to complete this project, as a group, and it will build upon work that you will do with digital audio in previous weeks. The radio shows will be broadcast on the ds106 web radio station, http://ds106rad.io/.

Final Story Challenge

This will be a digital story that you will complete in the final weeks of the class. You will get more information about the requirements for this story later in this semester, but generally you should be prepared to create a larger digital narrative out of media created throughout the semester in ds106.


As this class is online, there will be no established session or class that you must attend every week. Rather, your attendance will be evaluated upon your activity and presence in the course’s online spaces: your blog, Twitter, comments on your classmates blogs, etc.

Late Policy

All weekly work must be posted to your web site and your weekly summary post URL must be posted by midnight Friday of the week they are due. We realize life presents unexpected situations, but unless prior arrangements have been made with your instructor, no work will be accepted for credit after the weekly deadline. THIS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE.


Please strive to be a considerate class member, both to your instructors and your fellow classmates. For many of you, the only interactions you will have with both your instructors and fellow internauts will be online, and the expectations of amiable, non-threatening interactions are equally important online as they are in-person. Additionally, context can be tricky online, so be sure to try and be as clear as possible, while also giving your fellow classmates the benefit of the doubt. Much of your work in this class will be providing one another feedback on the stories you create, critique is essential, but the magic of community is in how you frame it. Be good and do good.


Your grades are entirely under your control. What you get out of this course is a function of what you put into it. You will be expected to do work on a weekly basis, encompassing storytelling assignments, daily creates, reflections, and participation. You will also do two major assignments: a collaborative audio story and a final project. If you do all the work, you are essentially guaranteed a passing grade. In your assignment posts and weekly reflections, you will discuss what you put into the work you produced, what you put into the class as a whole, and what you gained from that effort. In your blog, you will narrate and document your learning experience in the course. Your learning experience determines your grade.

It is important to work consistently throughout the course, and some people need structure and deadlines. I will be using the Canvas gradebook to keep track of the work submitted, using a point system:

  • Final Project: 15 points
  • Radio Show: 15 points
  • Weekly Work: 70 points (5 points/week x 14 weeks): Points for weekly work will be determined by using your required weekly summary posts. 

The potential points add up to 100. This system merely indicates that the work has been done, but it is important because missing work will have a negative impact on grades.

We may do periodic check-ins, on or about weeks 5, 10 and 14, to make sure we are in agreement on your progress in the course.

Department of Computer Science Grading Scale

A 92-100% | A- 89- 91% | B+ 87-88% | B 82-86%| B- 79-81% | C+ 77-78% | C 72-76% | C- 69-71% | D+ 67-69% | D 60-66% | F 0-59%


Students will be expected to use Canvas to submit weekly posts (and other assignment write-ups, upon occasion). You will find information about what assignments you must submit and how do this in your Canvas course.

Mid-Semester Reports

If, at the mid-semester point, you are in danger of failing this course, your instructor will report your progress as “unsatisfactory” to Academic Services. Your instructor may also schedule a meeting with you to talk about your progress and what steps can be taken to improve your grade. We STRONGLY encourage you to attend this meeting if it’s suggested.

About Honor

As a member of the UMW academic community, we expect you to conduct yourselves according to the University’s honor code at all times in this course. There may be times when we ask or expect you to work collaboratively on assignments. We will make this clear when introducing the assignment. There also may be times when you encounter difficulty and seek assistance from a classmate or peer on an assignment. We have no problem whatsoever with this, as long as you make clear to us and your classmates (through your assignment write-ups) what kind of assistance you received and from whom.

Disability Service Statement

The Office of Disability Services has been designated by the University as the primary office to guide, counsel, and assist students with disabilities. If you receive services through the Office of Disability Services and require accommodations for this class, make an appointment with your instructor as soon as possible to discuss your approved accommodation needs. Bring your accommodation letter with you to the appointment. Your instructor will hold any information you share with them in strictest confidence unless you give them permission to do otherwise.

Classroom Recording Statement

Classroom activities in this course may be recorded by students enrolled in the course for the personal, educational use of that student or for all students presently enrolled in the class only, and may not be further copied, distributed, published or otherwise used for any other purpose without the express written consent of the course instructor. All students are advised that classroom activities may be taped by students for this purpose. Distribution or sale of class recordings is prohibited without the written permission of the instructor and other students who are recorded. Distribution without permission is a violation of copyright law. This policy is consistent with UMW’s Policy on Recording Class and Distribution of Course Materials.

Title IX Statement

University of Mary Washington faculty are committed to supporting students and upholding the University’s Policy on Sexual and Gender Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence. Under Title IX and this Policy, discrimination based upon sex or gender is prohibited. If you experience an incident of sex or gender based discrimination, we encourage you to report it. While you may talk to me, understand that as a “Responsible Employee” of the University, I MUST report to UMW’s Title IX Coordinator what you share. If you wish to speak to someone confidentially, please contact the below confidential resources. They can connect you with support services and help you explore your options. You may also seek assistance from UMW’s Title IX Coordinator. Please visit http://diversity.umw.edu/title-ix/ to view UMW’s Policy on Sexual and Gender Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence and to find further information on support and resources.



Stefanie Lucas-Waverly, M.S. Title IX Coordinator

Office of Title IX

Fairfax House

540-654-5656 [email protected]


Crystal Rawls

Title IX Deputy for Students

Assistant Director of Student Activities 540-654-1801

[email protected]


Confidential Resources


Talley Center for Counselling Services Lee Hall 106, 540-654-1053


Student Health Center

Lee Hall 112, 540-654-1040




24-hr hotline: 540-373-9373


Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA)

24-hr hotline: 540-371-1666