Kickstarting educational innovations (or, the case of #ds106)

If you are trying to explain to colleagues why networks are important, why an understanding of participatory cultures is important, and why education should concern itself with social media and network literacies, then look no further than the success that the good people over at #ds106 had in raising funds through Kickstarter to support their project. Within a day they reached their goal and raised more than $4,500. Huge congratulations to everyone involved!

At the same time this is an opportunity to discuss notions of power and social capital. Can everyone do this? How many projects don’t reach their goal every day? This is not a shot at #ds106 or the people involved: #ds106 is an amazing project with a creative and passionate team of people and they deserve all the accolades they can get! Put in other words, will people read and comment on your blog just because you have one? Will people support your kickstarter project, just because you have one? What do educators, researchers, scholars and students need to know about social media and networks so that their tweets, facebook updates, and linkein profiles are not lost in a desert of digital sand?


Digital scholarship practices: Students and researchers working around the system


Digital Scholarship: Visualizing a Twitter hashtag


  1. I think you answered all your questions in your first sentence with two words – “participatory cultures.” And while it’s not like you can’t help people learn ahead of time _some_ of the ways to participate, in anything, like most, the learning is in the doing, in the participating. We don’t expect 10 year olds to be able to walk into a faculty lounge and be able to participate, and even grad students we’d likely recommend to observe for a while before offering up too much. Yet for some reason newcomers to this form seem to think that if no one is listening to the them in 6 months, its the medium’s fault. As Gardner Campbell has urged many times, there are no digital facelifts.

  2. Thanks for you comment, Scott. Yep, participatory cultures. The understanding that social media are not an equalizer is an important aspect of that. Things like social capital and power transfer to online spaces, and I agree with you: it’s through participation that one truly understands these issues.

  3. I think the success of the ds106 Kickstarter campaign has a lot to do with reciprocity. The core ds106 crew have been contributing members of various communities/networks for years (probably preceding the actual term participatory culture ;). From what I have seen, they have always been willing contributors and freely share their knowledge, skills, time, expertise to many projects. They’ve built up a lot of goodwill over the years, and this is one way that their various communities can reciprocate and keep the virtuous circle rolling along.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Clint. Yes, reciprocity seems to be a major aspect it.

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