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First ds106 Class Session (from across the country)

By Posted in - Bag of Tricks & Spring 2012 UMW Tricks on January 19th, 2012 3 Comments

Wednesday was my first appearance teaching a section of ds106 for a class at the University of Mary Washington- the one hitch is that I am still in Strawberry, Arizona (here is an extra riddle for my students- what is the most obscure fact you can find and tell me about this town?).

Below are some notes and resource, but key todos for students are:

  • Register your domain and set up webhosting via the information in Assignment 1. You must email me your blog url to get credit for this assignment. Be sure to add it to your user profile on the ds106 site. This must be done before class on Wednesday, Jan 25.
  • Join the class group on the ds106 site. Spring 2012, Section 2
  • Write an introductory blog post sharing your interests in the course or storytelling. Or write about your dog/fish/cat- just get in the practice of writing. This is the start of your participation.
  • Do at least one Daily Create before Monday.

This was my view of class…

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Despite his bravado of insulting his students (see the first in a series of documentary videos series that Lee and Alan) are doing, Jim Groom has been bending over in triplicate to enable me to teach a class at UMW. Until I can arrive on campus (hopefully February 1), Jim is facilitating the session and bringing me in via Skype, as well as broadcasting the class out via DTLT Today – we have an archive of yesterday’s session.

As a first technical note for students, in WordPress, embedding media from sites such as YouTube, flickr, vimeo and more is easier than copy/pasting a pile of code- using its features for Embeds all I had to do was to put the URL for the vimeo page that holds the video on a separate line, and WordPress does all the work from there.

So it was a bit challenging as the connectivity was not optimal, but we got through. I appreciate the students being willing to walk up to the camera and say hello and talk about why they took the course. Nearly half had said that one of their friends/room-mates had highly recommended it.

In the beginning of the course, it is Jim’s (and now my) strategy to front load the experience witha  warning of how intense the class can be- we do not want students later to be overwhelmed later. Jim fires more ammunition, but I will not mince either- if you are not ready to put a lot into the class, or be ready to struggle, or am not comfortable doing a lot of answer seeking online, there is a graceful exit through the Drop Class shop.

Another problem reared its head in that the first day of class was also the day of the internet protest of the proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation. In support of this, many major sites like WikiPedia (and ds106) implemented public displays of support and either with-holding (or requiring a click through) of that sites information. So our materials for class were not quite available.

But this was a great opportunity to raise attention to the important critical role to ds106 that the open internet its creators designed – in every sense, for this class, the internet is your textbook– and it is not just something for you to read and highlight, but students in ds106 are authors. You do have a stake in this, and it is far from over.

But back to class- to get started ASAP on the first assignment, setting up your domain and webhosting it is likely going to be cumbersome and confusing, but will giver you a sense of what you are in for. Just so I have the same experience, I have done this assignment to set up this blog.

  • Register your domain. First you need to think about what name you will use to identify yourself, this is not a small decision as it is your online presence. I was driving to an appointment this morning and knew I wanted to include “106” in mine, and had  flash back to Trix cereal‘s tagline “Trix are for kids” and I felt “106tricks” would eb good. I went to and saw the options, I could have had .com , .org. us, and many others but felt that .net worked well. I already had an account on hover, bur if you are new you have to make one. This cost me $15 and I managed to do this on my iPhone while shopping at Safeway.

    The domain is simply the reference lookup for your future internet self- on its own, if you went to the site, yuo would end up at

  • Set up Webhosting account. I set up my site with Cast Iron Coding but like the assignment says, the web hosting can be any that support what WordPress requires (PHP and mySQL databases). You will want one that provides cpanel or some form of one click installs (unles you like ftp-ing code and doing ti yourself). One student asked about – I had never seen that one, but it does offer what is needed.
  • Point your domain to your webhost. Once your account is set up, you should get a bunch of information, how to log in to the admin site for your account, how to get to the cpanel or place you can install wordpress. The key thing you need is the addresses for the web hosting Domain Servers, in my case it was ns1.castironcoding,com and ns2.castironcoding,com Copy these down or know where you can copy/paste them.

    Go back to where you registered your domain (in my case and you will have to log into an account you set up there- find the entry for your domain, and look for the place to edit/enter your new Nameserver addresses (they will be set by default to the registrar).  Do not include any http://

Once you do this… you have to wait. It may take a few to hours to a day or 2 (it took mine only 3) for the internet to spread your new domain everywhere so people’s computers can get there.

If you need help, we can take time in class to address your issues, but you will be better off if you can take care of this before Monday- and free yourself to get in practice of doing Daily Create activities (today is an easy one– recite a tongue twister on video and upload to YouTube).

If you need help with getting started on WordPress let us know- see the basic set up instructions at UMW Blogs but note that it is not required to set up a subdomain. I installed wordpress in my main web directory, so my blog is my site.

Some other things you can do to get ahead of the game- set up your social media accounts if you do not have them already. For each one, you should make sure to customize your profile, e.g. add an avatar, link to your blog, explore how to personalize the site.

  • Create an account on Twitter. Start following classmates, myself, Jim Groom, the Daily Create. When you share something related to class, include the #ds106 hashtag which makes it easy to find and connect (see!/search/%23ds106. You might want to expore mobile twitter clients and desktop ones like TweetDeck
  • Create an account on flickr. Make sure your defaults are set for creative commons licensing (open sharing). You will want to quickly upload at least 5 photos to establish your account– your photos will not appear on the Daily Create site until you have done this.
  • Create an account on SoundCloud.
  • Create an account on YouTube.

Are you ready? Strap on your helmets, even if you feel like a nutcase…

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Tom & Katrien

Keep me posted on your progress, and get ready for a new Assignment that will be out before Monday’s class.

(3) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Bryan - Reply

    January 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Hearing that you were going to be teaching at UMW this semester seemed like something I dreamed, but then turned out to be true… glad to see it’s off and running and that someone in this mess is capable of making the fiery man Jim Groom himself bend over “in triplicate.”

    I did run off immediately to find out a little more about Strawberry, Arizona, though, much of which intrigued me immediately (cool that much of the town’s historic sites/info revolve around the oldest standing schoolhouse in the state). All sorts of moonshine, murders and names like Tuffy Peach.

    Are you guys sure the town wasn’t founded by someone aping William Faulkner?

  • Sandy Brown Jensen - Reply

    January 21, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Strawberry, Arizona sounds like someplace I would love to live. I learned that “most of Strawberry’s settlers arrived in 1882. One such settler named Charles C. Callaway exemplified the typical Strawberry settler. He arrived from Missouri in 1882 to visit a friend who lived in Strawberry. While on his way to his friend’s house, he got lost and received directions from a bearded stranger on a mule (later identified as General George Crook). Once Charlie arrived in Strawberry and saw the beautiful pine trees and felt the cool mountain air, he decided he couldn’t leave.”
    He’s the guy who built the schoolhouse, referenced above.
    It was named after after all the wild strawberries, oh yum!

    Charlie became a cowboy and worked on various ranches in Strawberry Valley. In 1885, he helped build the Strawberry schoolhouse, which still stands and is now the oldest schoolhouse in Arizona. Also in that year, Charlie built himself a cabin in Strawberry. It stands today as a memento of those pioneer days. Although Charlie was a character (he regularly played practical jokes on his friends), he did finally settle down and get married in 1888. The union produced two daughters. Charles C. Callaway lived to the ripe old age of 103, a true pioneer to the end.

    • CogDog - Reply

      January 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Here are some photos of the schoolhouse

      The story the historical society tells is that in the early part of the 20th century, school supplies such as chalk were precious/expensive, and the school had a rash of thefts of not only chalk, but thinks like buttons and other items from the teachers desk. They hassled the kids, their parents, but never found out who the thief was. Years later, when they were remodeling the roof years later they found a midden in the rafter with chalk and gold buttons woven in the straw.

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