Slice of Life – Last Run of the Day

Inspired by the brilliant Scott Lockman‘s Slices of Life project, and wanting to begin this semester of Digital Storytelling 106 in a manner that would lead to an inspiring next few months spent blending pedagogy and creative expression, professional development and a variety of different learning communities – that is what this Life-Long Learning is all about, isn’t it? – I thought I would share a slice of life from last Saturday’s epic adventure at Whistler / Blackcomb.

Reunion with an old friend

Scott’s slice of life story is a perfect example of the #ds106 community in all of its authentic and on-the-fly glory: uncovering the power of relationships mediated (and empowered) by our digital tools, as brought about by a course that is everywhere and nowhere, connected seemingly by the strings of vibrating energy prophesied in theoretical physics. Though it’s been described (by Tom Woodward, though he is probably not the first) as “an online course meets Woodstock,” I think the string theory analogy may fit closer to the dream of DS106’s version of EduGlu-as-the-Unified-Theory-of-Everything (in pedagogy). Tom continues with his Woodstock comparison, “You take a guided online experience and mix it with both chaos and, more importantly, community.

At the core, this is all about community.”

During this same week of last year, I took a leap at Jim Groom’s call:

…to push yourself beyond your creative comfort zone, time for us to wrestle honestly with the future of education through praxis and engagement and, more than anything else in my book, it’s time to make some damned art already. Let’s go!!!!

To think that it’s only been a year…

It’s only been a year since I started recording music, spoken word experiments and podcasts as my own creative projects, and began weaving the same emphasis on the shared creation of (physical and digital) learning artifacts into the inquiry, assessment and reflection taking place in my classroom. It’s only been a year that I’ve begun to think about terms like personal cyber infrastructure, and begin to see the next horizon(s) of education as a means of preparing citizens to create a new, more hopeful world. It’s only been a year that I’ve been so completely surrounded by people who see their own path to becoming their best selves, and who are constantly challenging me to become mine.

This has all been on the one hand personally inspiring and meaningful in a transformative way, and on the other a challenge to see the chaos of the #ds106 as part of its ultimate aim, and Jim’s (along with a host of others who have brought this idea into being) genius as an educator.

Because he did all of this on purpose. Not by knowing where it would end up, but by knowing (suspecting, maybe?) how to encourage (again, borrowing from Tom Woodward): commenting, community, and creativity.

There was no way to know that I would hear Scott, a few months back, talking from his Japanese morning to my Canadian evening about an informal daily check in, or simple creative act. “I’m going to narrate my own life,” he promised the few of us assembled across the strands of DS106 Radio airwaves.

And even after that broadcast, there was no way to know that he’s go out and do it (45 times, as of this posting). Or that a year later he would be teaching his own sections of DS106 at Temple University, in Japan (or that Michael Branson Smith would be teaching the course at City College, in New York, either), taking the simplicity of Martha Burtis, Tim Owens, Alan Levine and Jim’s EduGlu setup, and bringing more stories and students into the wild frontier of online learning that strives to unleash potential than constrain it.

Which is what I hope to not only take away, but bring to #ds106 this semester. Last year a number of the TALONS spring assignments were created through the lens of the we jam econo motto, and at various times our grade nine/ten cohort took on the nick name #DS105, phoning in expert testimony to Jim’s DS106radio broadcast celebrating Songs to Grow By and crashing more than one of the open university course’s parties. I expect that the spring semester provides even greater impetus, and more avenues, to share the the learning in our classroom, as well as in the school beyond.


  1. Wow Bryan! I’m moved deeply by this thoughtful post. I don’t that I’d have been able to articulate my own understanding of the project in such and clear and precise terms. But then maybe that’s because I’m stuck in the middle of it.

    Your post reminds me of several things I’ve forgotten or taken for granted in the intervening months.

    How apt that as so many of are beginning again this cycle/process that your kind and encouraging words give me a lift. This is something all of us can use once in a while.

    I certainly know there are a ton of folks pushing the limits and plucking the strings that connect us all in meaningful and powerful ways. From your post, I’m inspired to do my best to give as many of them as similar lift as you have provided for me today.

    Thank you.

    • “…but maybe that’s because I’m stuck in the middle of it.” Exactly: and united and scattered around the periphery, we’re creating context in our own ways, acting as audience for one another.

      Even if I’ve yet to add my own contribution, The Daily Create’s Slice of Life tribute was a fitting testament to the power of the project:

  2. Hi Bryan,

    I am a student of Dr. John Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. After reading your post, I am excited to see that there are so many great teachers out there, such as yourself, who are pioneering the way for online learning. I am very new to the blogging world and the terminology, but I believe that this community is a wondrous way to allow educators and students alike to have a creative outlet and gain a sense of community at the same time.

    I also enjoyed the “Last Run of the Day” video. Living in the South, it is extremely rare that we get snow. I felt like I was on a field trip while watching.

    Thank you for your inspiring words. I look forward to my look back in a year, so that I may be able to see how far I have come in this educational blogging world.

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