HeatherJamesMsgArchive1004

Me auld Messages – HeatherJames

Great article, Heather! I (think) I can totally envision how the class went. I agree that

"To really use a wiki, the participants need to be in control of the content- you have to give it over fully."

and that probably you were "required to conduct those classes in that manner due to the subject matter and time restraints, especially because participants had little time outside of classroom hours to contribute or participate in any extra tasks? No answers, only questions… Perhaps time and access are important factors that cannot be overlooked."

As everyone knows, everyone is pressed for time and students barely manage to do anything at all outside of classroom time, usually not even doing assigned work beyond the deliverables. I think that many people naturally enjoy helping out others, but aren't foolish enough to do so, unasked, in lieu of assigned work (and since no one ever has time to do assigned work, everything is in lieu of assigned work).

Like you, I don't have answers (at least, I don't have feasible ones), only questions. Some minor ideas though:

  • I don't know who you teach classes to, if you are supposed to assign things, or what. If it comes down to assigning students to write on the wiki, make it as open-ended as possible. Perhaps "50 sentences over the next X weeks, in any form". These 50 sentences could include an essay, answering someone else's question, writing or improving a page, (and maybe even just chatting on homepages about offtopic personal issues?). This way, different people will be able to repurpose the site to what they want to use it for, and interact, rather than creating a bunch of isolated, assigned essays (WalledGardens).
  • If you can get students (maybe even by assignment??) to post questions and requests for help on the site for the other students to answer, it may be likely than other students will answer, at least to the questions that seem genuine. People are happy to help when someone actually seems to want the help. Throwing time into a class website on the offchance that it may become useful to the other students is a more dubious proposition.
  • If lack of student time is the bottleneck for student contribution (and I bet it is), then what you essentially want to do is to give the students more time. So, you could just do that. Give the students a class or half a class just to work on the wiki. Do all the students get computer access during class? If not, you could either have everyone meet online in lieu of a class period, or if you have internet access in the classroom you could scrounge up a couple of laptops and lend them to a couple of students (different ones each time) during each class.

Although, perhaps none of this will be radical enough. Perhaps wikis won't be useful to/used by the students unless they can use it to organize something. Maybe a class project, or maybe, more radically, they could help plan what will be covered in future class meetings.

Is is okay if we copy some (or all) of that article to here? I think pieces of it (and a link to the full thing) would be useful on CommunityWiki.

Thanks Heather and Bayle. May we move all your contributions in the WikiSchool cluster ? Heather I've begun a french translation dropped on WikiSchoolMonÉchecBrillant but we could find a more relevant wikiword ;)

Secretly, I wish both of you had made comments within the KairosNews? site, there are some interesting people and articles over there, about technology in education (mostly writing edu). I was, again secretly, trying to straddle between two worlds… and chose to not post it on my own blog, or within this wiki- but to place it in a wider edu context… and link heavily back to wiki resources. Alas I can understand why you commented 'here' as opposed to there…

First to Christophe, thank you! You are so cool. I always amazed at how generous you are.

Second to Bayle, your suggestions are eeenteresing. Actually, this makes me want to write again on the details of these kinds of things… of course, I have only meagre experience with this, but through talking with pmichaud, I learned about a course that uses a kind of Scoop engine (like Kuro5hin et al) for class discussions… there may be some kind of lessons there. They use it quite successfully. I'm going to ask him if I can refer to my convo with him and the site.

Your idea of an online class (where everyone would connect from home) is one that crossed my mind, but then you run into a funny problem, which arose in my first pilot experiment: You have conflicts editing a page at the same time :o) haahahaha… talk about WikiAffordances

Secretly, I wish both of you had made comments within the KairosNews? site, Okay, good idea. I copied my above comment to there.

You have conflicts editing a page at the same time Oh yeah, forgot about that. Well, some folks are making SubPathetaEdit?, so soon that may not be a problem!

You know, MediaWiki 1.3 does automatic edit merging (using diff3), which I think is pretty cool.


Thanks for the attempt Heather! :-) I don't care who does it really, pirahna offered earlier this month is all. Best, MarkDilley

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