#DS106 fuel for the soul

When I woke up this morning (big blues guitar chords), I was full of dread. I have struggled myself through 2016 to say the least, and with David driving to his folks today, I was worried about the immense gulf presented by the next two days on my own.
I think everyone would agree 2016 was a stinker one way or another. For me, my ‘in-work’ world becomes increasingly separated from my ‘out of work’ world. My daytime is full of an incredibly stressful and unsatisfying often seven-day-a-week role, and my spare time is full of the open education work I so love and believe in. This year saw seven more conference presentations and papers on open education. I completed an eight month secondment in our Department of Education leading our Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education – supporting about 70 university colleagues through their modules and gaining some of the best feedback I’ve ever received. I left that role without so much as a thank you from that department.

Sparing you lots of other stuff, I woke up today filled with dread and wondering how I’d fill the time I had. Something then must have said to me to revisit Jim Groom’s keynote from the Edinburgh OER16 conference. Boy. Here is vision, inspiration, clarity of thinking – everything I lack in my day-job. I just don’t find fighting over education league tables inspiring – or worthwhile at all in fact. People are important. Having a vision is important.  (Don’t start me on the NSS – I’ve written about that twice before). Jim – pointing to the work of many others – talked about developing an open infrastructure via the web – something that is very much lost in UK higher education. I mean that not just in terms of pushing the boundaries of what is digitally possible and acceptable, but what the US and Canada seem to do very well, is put their technical wizards at the heart of pedagogy and innovation in their institutions. I love that Jim and all the people he mentioned are building, and doing, and experimenting, all with the fundamental purpose of making teaching and learning better. And more fun. So Jim inspired me. Thank you Jim. You have no idea what that meant to me this morning.

Then, second dose of inspiration. The wonderful Alan Levine recorded a song and how awesome was that? “I’m a reclaimer”.…complete with guitar, vocals and harmonica, although a distinct absence of dog. I don’t know how he quite achieves that one. Ours does like to join in. Alan was also thinking about reclaiming the web, and in the comments on his blog, the gauntlet was thrown down by Talky Tina for more #ds106 music. OK then.

So like Alan, I’m immensely indebted to the Reclaim Hosting company. I’m not technical at all but somehow have ended up running five blogs. All well with that until you get hacked, and my poor Biology Courses has had more than its fair share this year. The previous hosting company was fine but not able to support me in the end. You know what really is stressful, those ‘ticket’ systems – “you have not responded in 24 hours so were have marked your ticked resolved”. Not resolved!! Stressed!! But then along comes Reclaim, and more than a fair share of pestering from me. But they transferred everything, cleaned it up, and pointed things to new things. Tim was amazing, and for him, I wrote this song.

More than that, it entirely occupied the day I was dreading, and up until 9.34pm at night, am still surviving. Thank you. So wanting for a while to do the “Chattanooga Choo Choo” – the Andrew Sisters’ version, here you are. I have no idea how they do their harmonies – but here is how I tackled it.

My lyrics:
Hello internet.
Is this the internet?
I want a one way ticket to my privacy
I want to keep my data immediately.
Are you the man at Reclaim Hosting?
“Transfer your domain”?
“Migrate your site to Reclaim”?
I can afford
To move my site to Reclaim Hosting
Since the pound’s had a fall
And is now worth bugger all.
You send an email off to Reclaim ‘bout a quarter to three
You get a message back – instantaneously
“We’re so glad you came now”
“You’re hosted on Reclaim now”
“You control your data and you own your domain now”
Now I have my own vir-tu-al space to create
I can start a blog and share some stuff for debate
Photographs on Flickr
Twitter’s even quicker
Woo, woo, Reclaim Hosting you are so great.

It would be nice
If education was more open.
Let’s build and connect.
And share ideas with respect.
Reclaim your domain.
And build an open infrastructure now,
The folk at Reclaim Hosting
They can choo-choo you home.

Big fan of Reclaim Hosting…..


My recordy stuff:

The other miracle of the day was actually being able to ‘midi out’ from my Technics keyboard, into a USB box thing, and into Garageband on the Mac. It worked like a treat. Usually I record the Technics straight from a mic – but get the annoying sounds of fingernails clunking the keyboards and dog howling. That kind of thing. It worked fine. Of course, the trusty Blue Snowball microphone direct into Garageband for all other live recording. Not much ‘mastering’ or editing down – but reasonably OK.

Music set up



I don’t really know how the Andrew Sisters got their sound. I bang out the main melody in one take and can usually find a second harmony in another. I then usually have two more ‘tracks’ in Garageband and patch in harmonies that sound right for to make up a third line.

My final sounds:

Come and be creative in 2017:

In short, it is so important to find your creative space. You have to step off of the treadmill and out of the firing line. Join the #ds106 community on Twitter and have a look at the Daily Create. Today, I combined “His Master’s Voice” – Nipper the dog – with the create. I painted Nipper at school in the 6th form after I’d been dumped from art classes several years before. Nobody knew I could paint. A bit like work now, life is very good at focusing on the unimportant and trying to focus on what you ‘can’t’ do. Somehow that is easier and less of a risk of one day somebody being just bloody awesome.




9 thoughts on “#DS106 fuel for the soul

  1. Well, find connections and inspirations .. that’s got to be my motto (if I ever have one) … and I hope 2017 is more upbeat than 2016 (for you and me both). It’s always great to groove to your groove.

  2. Let’s have a wonderful creative 2017

    I’m hoping for some bigger event like we had with the Burgeron family of Bovine TX and with the Labyrinth Tales and Prisoner106.

    • Have a wonderful 2017 also Ronald. Yes, we need to plan an ‘event’. I was thinking of a global ‘mexican wave’ of creativity over New Year or something, to connect DS106ers all over the world. Hmmm.

  3. Well hello, True Friend Viv! I sure am glad you caught me cleaning out the arms in that old suit of armour because I had to take the gauntlets off to get all the mice droppings out, and I didn’t mean to make such a ruckus when they hit the floor but I am glad that it gives you an idea for your song.

    Plus when Spike was singing.

    We never did have our duet yet but there is still time and it will help make #Reclaim2017 #AllThatMoreBetterThan2016. I do not think it will be possible to trump 2016. But I’m sure he will try anyway.

    So anyway, I really did like listening to your song, and dancing, and playing the air clarinet. I was looking for a song this afternoon that I can do, but as you know, I always have a problem getting my microphone right. But I will certainly find a special song that I can write words for UNCLE @JimGroom and @Timmmmyboy.

    • How wonderful to wake up to messages from True Friend Tina. Tumbling mouse droppings…hmmm…no song springs to mind yet. Yes get thinking about the song and we could do it as a duet? “Anything you can do I can do better”? Not that I can possibly compete with your wonderful self of course.

  4. Thanks for this gift of music Viv – you cheered me up in a week with some lovely highs but quit a few lows. Creativity has been important to me and is high on my list for 2017. Mine’s different from yours but I know we’ll have a few lovely meetings along the way.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Frances – here is to a wonderful and creative 2017. I look forward for sure to see your creations as the pop along on Facebook 🙂 X

  5. What a special gift to end out the year Viv! The connections I’ve made through DS106 continue to give back in spades as the years go by. It was wonderful (albeit way too brief!) to see you F2F at OpenEd. I’m so glad I could help with the Reclaiming this year and appreciate not just your support of what we do but your friendship. Look forward to more rockin into 2017 and beyond!

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