Remixing the Personal Cyberinfrastructure

As a part of the most excellent ds106 course, I’ve been exploring tools, media, and realities of education that I haven’t had the ability to explore in quite some time. Despite the fact that my recent master’s program had me digging deeply into constructivism, social networking, and exploring the very nature of “play” and its paramount role in education, ds106 has begun to turn the very notion of play into a reality that only the most die-hard educators can appreciate.

As I slip further into the rabbit hole of role playing, digital media collaboration, and visual assignments that comprise ds106, I do have an important concept to highlight that involves the importance of the digital media landscape, and how it affects not just the way students learn, but more significantly how they will be able to influence, bend, and twist the public perception of themselves in the real world. For what seems like ages now, educators have drilled the concept of audience into the minds of young writers and learners, so that as they produce they can focus on the end goal in a much more concrete fashion; what will my family, friends, and colleagues think when they read what it is that I’m creating? How will your work be perceived, and what is its ultimate goal; persuasion, information, etc.

Gardner Campbell wrote an excellent piece of the need for learners to establish their own “personal cyberinfrastructure”, or a digital version of what educators have been asking students to do in written form for many decades. He argues that students should be taking command of their digital personification, with limited “training wheels” and “roadblocks” so that they don’t fall into the stereotypical reality of the typical college student that’s just looking for “the answer”. Instead, students should be provided with the guidance to be creative and expressive in all forms of communication, particularly digital forms, so that they will best understand the power of being able to control how the world sees them in an increasingly connected digital framework of social media. Only then he argues will students best be able to learn, and express their learning.

In essence, it’s a fantastic argument for teachers to explore any and all forms of social, visual, and tactile media with their students, giving them a taste of the real world in a guided learning environment. In other words, Gardner Campbell would argue that if you’re an educator involved with any age level of students, you should regularly be giving your students the opportunity to express themselves and create using the digital tools that we have traditionally been blocking in K-12 schools, and I agree with him whole heartedly.

Dr. Oblivion would agree with him as well, as evidenced by the remix I created of his most discussion with the ds106 class.


  1. Great post and love the remix. I work in the UK in the learning tech field but one of the reasons I want to engage with the ds106 course is because I home educate my son aged 14 who has Apergers syndrome. He finds it almost impossible to learn or express himself in a face to face context at this stage of his life…

    The whole notion of letting learners experience the real world through a guided learning space (I use that word to distinguish from a learning environment a la VLE) really resonates with me. My son needs to be able to ‘learn to be’ in a world that he frequently finds extremely challenging.

    He is currently learning alot through playing in World of Warcraft – and experimenting with different roles and personas in a safe environment. he only needs to reveal so much of himself.

    We have gone through a number of iterations of his presence and identity on the web. He had a story blog (aged 9) under one name with words and pictures and a flickr account under another. These spaces allowed him to create/invent himself and try out different selves. He had the opportunity to find out how people (those he knew in RL and those he didn’t) responded to his work and how he presented this. More recently he has withdrawn from these early identities – as part of his transition but I hope he will look back on them as important. The value to his self-esteem was significant at a time when his face to face world (school) was falling apart around him.

    So I totally agree about giving students the opportunity to try out different ways to express themselves and also to work with/interact with different age groups too. Opening up learning within broader socially networked spaces enables young people to learn alongside people of all ages which adds a richness that is impossible to replicate for people with autism.

    1. Sounds like you’re very involved with your son’s development and how he takes in the world. I love the modeling you’ve described, allowing him to explore different identities in a context that makes sense to him, and then reflect upon it as he sees fit. Having the recorded comments and interactions makes it easier for him to reference the feelings as well I’m sure.

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