When DS106 and Rube Goldberg Unite .. or how to put on a hat

Hat on Yer Head #ds106 #dailycreate
It’s cold this morning here in New England. Wind chill about negative 14. Walking the dog … not so much fun. So when the DS106 Daily Create came into my inbox with a note of explaining how to do something, I was reminded of a recent classroom activity/lesson around Rube Goldberg contraptions (my students had a blast with it).

Here, then, are my instructions for putting a winter hat on your head. (My attorney suggests I mention that you should not try this at home. Duh.) At the Daily Create, you could only write text, but I drew out the contraption in the Paper app (which I am still figuring out).

Winter. It sucks. So, you know, you need a winter hat on your head to keep your brains from freezing when you need to walk to the dog.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Superglue fishing line to a bowling ball
2. Stuff bowling ball inside winter hat
3. Place bowling ball/hat on the top of the stairs
4. Sit on the bottom step of the stairs, holding fishing line in hand
5. Pull on fishing line. Be sure to pull hard enough so that the ball and hat start tumbling down the stairs
6. Quickly pull fishing line a second time to dislodge the ball from the hat. Guide bowling ball around you (note: this is important)
7. Hat sails through the air, lands on head

If you set up pins on the ground near the bottom of the stairs, you may even get both a strike AND the hat on your head. Be careful that the bowling ball and the hat don’t change positions. If that happens, you might end up with the bowling ball on your head. If that happens, you won’t need to go outside on your own. The ambulance will take there and it is probably heated.

Peace (you deserve it),

Yep, We’re Yodeling

Blame this one on me .. but yesterday’s Daily Create at DS106 was my idea — getting people to yodel. And darn it if they didn’t. In fact, I completely forgot it was even my idea until Mariana called me out on it with a “Hey, where’s your yodel?” So I got my yodel on this morning and added it to the Soundcloud group.

How about you? Do you yodel? Come add yours.

Peace (in the yoleheehooo),

Annotating a Connected Song

The other day, I shared out my tribute song to my various communities, in the form of an animated music video of sorts. It is my way of saying thanks to people who inspire me all year in various online homes.

I decided to show a bit of where the song writing came from, and used my comic app to annotate the original piece of paper. My songwriting process is very messy, musically and physically. I am constantly scratching on and scratching out words, drawing lines to show movement of phrases and verse/chorus, and yet, I often take photos of the paper later, to keep a trail of the song.

Annotating a Connected Song

So, if you are interested, I tried to reconstruct the writing of the song with annotated notes before I forget it all (which I am bound to do). Thanks for being part of my network as a visitor here. This song is for you.

Here is the audio-only version, too. Feel free to remix.

Peace (in the script),

Words Upon the Wall: A Gift of Song

For everyone who is in all of my various online networks and communities and adventures, I thank you. Here is a song, with some animated words, as my humble thanks for all the inspiration and support you give me throughout the year as I write and explore and learn.

Peace (with words on the wall),

Writing Digitally: A Comic About Connections

I had this urge to create this comic as a sort of reflection point, drawing in connections that have me pushing my own ideas about what it means to be a writer in this digital age. Think of it as a token of gratitude for all those who are helping me along on this journey. I created the comic (making up representative characters for my friends: Simon, Terry, Anna, and Maha) in Bitstrips for Schools, and then moved it into a flipbook creator.

Read — Digital Writing: An Ongoing Exploration

Peace (in the frame),

A Story in Icons

Story in Icons
Telling a story of a day in only visuals is tricky business. Today’s Daily Create suggested we use the new icon library that Google put together, and so I tried here to represent my morning as I continue an interesting dialogue with my friend, Simon, about writing and stories and all sorts of interesting odds and ends.

You can find the Google Icon library preview here: http://google.github.io/material-design-icons/ I just copied what I needed (coffee) and tried to represent my ideas as best as I could.

What story could you tell?

Peace (in the icon),

Keeping the Lights On …

Keep the lights on #CCourses

Alan Levine had a great post the other day (what else is new?) about how online learning communities, such as eMoocs and such, would do better to never situate an “end point” for a course and just keep the lights burning for folks. He situates this point within the context of the Connected Courses, where a lot of university folks are experimenting with how to transform their curriculum with elements of open design and open learning.

Alan cites DS106 and its #4life motto as an example. That’s what I do so love about DS106 …. it never seems to end and I can jump in and out as I please. I think what makes that system work, along with the great sharing, is the Daily Create … every day, there is something new to do.


It only takes a few minutes to do the Daily Create, but the act of getting that email update or seeing the call for creativity on Twitter reminds me of the presence of DS106. Even if I don’t do the create, I remember a bit of where I’ve been within DS106. I get re-anchored. The breadcrumb leads me back.

That identity with a learning space is important.

For many, particularly those in the Connected Courses, their teaching year no doubt revolves around semesters. The course they teach ends when the semester ends, and then things start up all over again. But when you add an open learning element, really, things should never quite come to a close. Why would it? Our learning never stops and if the connections forged have been true and honest and worthy, the space should continue.

Which is not to say this is easy to pull off. We’ve tried to keep our conversations and making going with the Making Learning Connected MOOC the past two summers. We’d love folks to stay connected in our spaces all year. It doesn’t really happen. Life intervenes. People get exhausted. Other priorities bubble up. We loosen our threads. But every now and then, we’ll see a burst of activity, as folks come back together with an idea or a share, and these echoes of the intense summer of the CLMOOC re-emerge in a powerful way. We still see the CLMOOC Make Bank as a growing connector of our ideas, as a sort of legacy project (modeled on, what else, DS106).

The power of the Daily Create is that we need constant and gentle reminders — a lighthouse beacon out in the world — of why we were there in that space and place and time in the first place and why we need to return to get recharged. Still, someone has to administer the Daily Create (I helped facilitate the Connected Courses Daily Connect all through October and I realized then how much of a task it is — enjoyable but still, a task.)

Meanwhile, I am taking a grad class right now that uses Blackboard as its LMS, and everything I write in there … I know it’s only temporary. My words will be eaten up by the LMS in a few months. The doors will close. The lights will go out. We’ll be done. This is important as I think about Alan’s points because what I write in that particular space is just enough to do the assignments. It’s me, the student, not me, the writer/connector, and when those words disappear … I could care less, to be frank. We have not really forged any true learning community connections in that online space (even though we are required to have “conversations” each week in the forum). It all feels so very forced and fake to me. The doors to the LMS will close and I won’t care.

Close the doors to the CLMOOC, or DS106, or other learning spaces I am in, and I would be in an uproar. And saddened. Those learning spaces, and those colleagues in those places, matter to me. I would be lost as a writer, learner, teacher, maker without those connections. Keeping the lights on is challenging, but important, if we are trying to keep to our ideals of learning as an open adventure.

Peace (in the think),

Soundscape Story: From Sunrise to Sunset

Sunrise 2014-07-06 1
I’ve been challenging myself to do something around the theme of “light” this week at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, using only audio to tell a story. I failed at it many times. It turns out that telling a story completely with sounds is pretty difficult, even with the experience I had doing this with DS106 earlier this year. I had one story idea of someone wandering through a dark house, lighting candles. I had another one with an alien invasion. They didn’t work and those stories were abandoned.

Finally, I realized I should stay simple and soulful …. I should create a soundscape story of a day that begins with the light of sunrise and ends with fading into sunset, as told from someone reading a book. The audio becomes the story the reader is reading. I still had troubles here. I struggled with how to represent parts of the day in audio only, and then realized I could use church bells ringing out the hours as a sort of anchor point for the listener.

All the sounds come from Freesound.org, where people openly post and share out sounds they have recorded.  Just know … I didn’t record any of the sounds. I pulled them together in Audacity editing software to produce the story, so I am appreciative of the Freesound users for sharing their sounds with the world. (See list of credits at the end of this post of the audio files I used)

You will hear an odd sound near the end of the story. This was created by someone using a software program that turns a bitmap of an image into audio wave files. The image he used is of the moon. So the sound is of an audio interpretation of a picture of a moon, if that makes sense. I want to dig around for that software program, because I think it has possibilities for storytelling, right?

I can’t say I am completely happy with the results of From Sunrise to Sunset, and I am left wondering: Does the story drag on? Does it capture the splendid beauty of morning as light hits the world? The liveliness of the day as we move about under the sun? The slow settling of the night as the Earth turns away from the sun? Is light even really a theme, here? Or just an artificial storytelling construct? You know, I got questions for myself.

Sunset in Tazacorte

I am making the soundscape story downloadable for anyone to remix, as part of the ethos of the CLMOOC.

Peace (in the story of light coming and light going),

Sound Clip Credits:

  • Pages of Book Turning 1 and 2
  • Church Bells ringing at noon and 6
  • Sound of the moon
  • Rooster in the morning
  • Dusk insect sounds
  • Daytime street sounds

Find Your Muse: Making an Animated Meme

I’ve tinkered with animated GIFs before (most notably, with DS106) and when I saw a fellow traveler in the Making Learning Connected MOOC world sharing an animated GIF meme, I thought: I gotta try that.

So, I did. Here’s how I went about it.

First, I found a clip on YouTube that I liked (of Lisa Simpson playing her saxophone).

Then, I grabbed the url of that video and went into a site called Make a Gif, which does what it sounds like it does: it creates animated GIF files out of YouTube videos. I took just the first three seconds of the video, as the loop of Lisa playing while Homer kicks back and dreams of other things while Lisa kicks out her saxophone jams.

Then, I went into an online photo editor called EZGif, which allows you to layer in text on top of animated GIF files.

I’ve run into problems hosting animated GIF files before and I have found that if I use Flickr and grab the “original” image (not the embed code that Flickr gives you, as that will flatten the GIF down to a static image) via copy/paste, and place that original upload file directly into my blog post, it will remain animated.

The result?


Pretty nifty, eh? Go give it a try and share out what you made as part of this Make Cycle around memes. We’re moving to shift gears out of this Make Cycle but it never really ends. You can enter into the conversation with the CLMOOC whenever you arrive.

Peace (in the sharing),

Emoji Movie Poster: Screenface III

Screen face #tdc873
Yesterday’s Daily Create was to create an emoji movie poster. I suppose this could have gone a few ways: we could have made a poster for a movie told entirely in emoji (which I don’t think anyone did) or we could made a poster for an emoji movie (which is what I did). There are probably other options, too, but that’s the beauty of the Daily Create.

I went into Webmaker Thimble, using a Movie Poster template that walks you through all of the steps, and remixed it for a fake movie: Screenface III. What’s funny is that the emoji I used got blown up (not literally) so large that you can only see the top of its head, with odd eyes on the horizon of the page. I tried to fix it and then realized: it works better this way. Or  maybe I just got lazy and realized: good enough.

Peace (in the theater),