Pushing Past Malaise

I’m sensing that a few of my digital storytelling students may be suffering from a bit of, shall we say, malaise? A few of them still haven’t gotten on board with Daily Shoot, which makes me wonder if they understand that when I say it is an “assignment” I mean it in the sense that it is work, that I have assigned, and which they must complete in order to receive a decent grade? (that’s just a subtle hint in case of any of the ones who are taking some kind of moral/political/ethical/personal/emotional stance against DS actually READ my blog).

Last week I tried the tactic of explaining to them that they need to commit to the class, developing a creative habit, blah, blah, blah. But I’m not sure it took for everyone.

In fairness, there are students in the class who are doing great work, and my next post will showcase some of what they’ve been contributing–but right now I want to focus on the more reluctant ones.

So this week I’m going to see if I can’t push them past that malaise a bit. I’m planning a challenge for tomorrow in which I’ll give groups of students 3-5 visual/design storytelling proejcts which they’ll need to complete within the first 2 hours of the class. They’ll be free to work anywhere on campus, and at least one of the assignments I have planned will require them to get out of Trinkle Hall. After those 2 hours are up, we’ll reconvene in Trinkle and spend the last 45 minutes of the class looking at each other’s work and critiquing the experience.

I’m putting this up here for two reasons: First, what do you think of this idea? My hope is that by getting some of the reluctant students to actually “make some art, dammit!” they’ll be more comfortable forging ahead on their own. I think it’ll also help to provoke and promote conversation among the students so they are perhaps less reluctant to comment upon each others’ work online. (See how nice I am by ascribing their malaise to anxiety and reluctance as opposed to the other alternative — that they’re just blowing my class off!! I am nothing if not sensitive and caring.)

The second reason, is that I’m soliciting ideas from players for visual and design storytelling projects that would work well in a group. They have to be something that a group could reasonably complete within the time limit, otherwise the sky’s the limit.

Now, I thought pretty hard about the best way to solicit this input. I wasn’t even sure if I should show my hand by giving away this much of my plan for tomorrow. So, in the interest of keeping things under wraps a bit, I’m going to ask anyone with ideas to either DM me on twitter (@mburtis) or send me an email.

Once the experiment is over, I promise to share any and all ideas here and in the official DS106 assignment repository.

I think that’s it, and for any of my students who do read this blog, bring your A game tomorrow (and your laptops and digital cameras)!!

8 thoughts on “Pushing Past Malaise”

  1. What I have found, and why I have begun making such a strong push at the beginning of the semester for students to think hard about whether or not they want to take this class is that it is different. it demands commitment, involvement, and a tin of work. There is the expectation of not only producing a lot of work themselves, but then giving feedback to their classmates. What may be happening is fatigue, exhaustion, or a sense of confusion, which is fine, but it is now time to confront them one-by-one and lay out the stakes for the next 9 or 10 weeks. after that, it is theirs to sink or swim, you’ve said your peace, and no more dependence on “what was the assignment?” Now you focus on the good stuff, and their is a lot of it coming out of section 1, I showed off the Black Swan poster which was nothing short of amazing, and love the way she documented her process as well. Anyway, one-on-one, state the situation, and feature what is awesome and let the rest decide for themselves how committed they are to owning their own learning—not everyone will be, and that’s OK too.

  2. Sounds interesting. I did noticed that people were either apprehensive or apathetic to say the least about the assignments/topics covered in class. Then again, its easy to not really be “feeling it” at a 6pm session, but if that was the case, they probaly should have just dropped.

    I am a little apprehensive when it comes to groupwork. It mostly is due to the lack of familiarity with my classmates, but it should only be a minor concern.

    Good luck with trying to “motivate” the rest of the class Instructor Burtis!

  3. @ashleymeganlove: I’m glad you’re excited, and do charge that camera!

    @jim: you’re absolutely right, particularly about focusing on all the great stuff that is being created, too!

    @Patrick: nah, you don’t need to be afraid. I’m hoping it will be a lot of fun.

    @Mike: I think you’re right the 3-hour slot on a Thursday night is just tough. I remember taking classes in that slot and struggling to get through them, too. I will do my best to motivate, but, you may have noticed, this assignment is as much about getting all of you to motivate each other! Frankly, I think that’s the best kind of motivation.

  4. In retrospect, the assignment was pretty fun. I may have over-exaggerated a bit when it came to the execution of the assignment. I think we should do some more hands-on, interactive activities like tonight more often.

  5. Yes I enjoyed that project!! Assignment is such a scary and uncreative word Martha. I agree with Mike though, it would be fun if we did something like that again this year. Maybe not quite as long, but maybe a mini “project”??

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