So, full disclosure, I’ve been exposed to Anth101 prior to this course. When I was a Tech TA from January to May I worked on a project to help develop a similar course for SEHD at UCD. In fact, I basically learned how to duplicate the Anth101 site to use as a starting point for this other course. Anth101 is an anthropology course developed by Michael Wesch at Kansas State and is very unconventional in approach and execution. The course takes place outside of the university LMS and is hosted on a WordPress site. Access to the course is open, so it’s similar to a MOOC, but on a smaller scale.

This course, Digital Stories, has been modeled very closely to Anth101 and DS106 which is similarly unconventional in structure and began at the University of Mary Washington. DS106 is focused more tightly on creating stories with primarily digital media, where Anth101 is more about human interactions and understandings. The following statement made by Wesch sums up his philosophical approach:

This kind of approach to education is so fresh and inviting. It really makes the sage on the stage version of education seem antiquated and stale. Learner choice is heavily incorporated into Anth101. And having experienced the same opportunity in this course, I can say there is a tremendous appeal to being given choice. I think people need to feel they have some control over their learning. and when they do, they become more invested in it.

Innovation seems to be at the heart of the approaches of both Anth101 and DS106. I loved the attempt Wesch made to deliver a lecture while running, video recording with a drone, and phone camera recording all at the same time. Really creative on his part.

I’ve enjoyed the format of this course, mirroring the best of Anth101 and DS106. It’s refreshing to work outside Canvas and in so many different modalities and mediums. I really think Wesch is on the cutting edge of where learning is going to be. He’s not afraid to take risks and he’s not afraid to fail, as in his 41 Mile Lecture Fail. I think it’s really important for students to see their teachers fail.

It’s not only OK to fail, it’s a necessary part of learning and growth. I know there are elements of this course I’ve failed in, but I’ve learned from the failures and have gone on to enjoy successes I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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