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Education reaches new frontiers with DS106 Radio and Airtime

What started as a course at the University of Mary Washington in 2010 has developed into an ever growing and dynamic online community of transmedia students who are both registered and not registered for the class. DS106 is a course that is "part storytelling workshop, part technology training, and, most importantly part critical interrogation of the digital landscape that is increasingly mediating how we communicate with one another." Offered through the computer science studies program, now anyone is invited to participate in the weekly assignments. You can get a taste for the students contributions here.

DS106 radio began in 2011 when Grant Potter saw a tweet sent out by course instructor Jim Groom, who expressed interest in starting a radio station for the course. In 2013 Grant took it upon himself to use Sourcefabric's Airtime, the open source radio automation software, to act as both an archive for students' audio work and as a medium for future live broadcasts. He played around with a number of different software options before choosing Airtime.

In 2013 the class moved one step further towards innovative learning tactics offering "headless DS106", a class without a teacher and open for anyone online to participate. A description of it reads, "Instructor: NOBODY. There is no one in charge of this class, no leaders. Each week, experienced ds106ers may volunteer to coordinate that week's content." Pushing the frontiers of education as well as the landscape of digital tools fosters a unique approach and pushes students to challenge themselves to explore new territories in their creativity.

We caught up with Alan Levine of DS106 at this year's Mozilla Fest in London. He told us a little more about the history of the course and how it evolved to include such an enthusiastic community. One of the terms that is often used is #4life, meaning that the class does not end after the semester, but can be a lifelong journey. An example of this would be the class's approach to student enrollment. DS106ers can step in and out contributing assignments when time allows. There is no negativity attached to students leaving, enrollment is an open ended invitation.

Airtime's cloud based automation system works well for innovative radio broadcasts groups and communities such as DS106, and we're looking forward to hearing how the students plan to push the media even more with exciting digital storytelling using Airtime. You can listen to an archive of past student work here.

  • If you want to get started with Airtime right now, try out Airtime Pro.