TL 521 Rocking It

TL 521 has had a lot of struggles as a class. It’s a hybrid class, with half of it at observations at far flung schools, many of them scheduled overlapping other student commitments. The wiki we are using has crashed multiple times, lost student work, and dropped authentication without warning.

All the same, the students are absolutely rocking this class. And I have to say, despite the flaws, a lot of it is the federated wiki. Its odd looking at a new technology at it’s birth, but what you see as the students use it it something that is a mix of blogging and wiki. An ability to do the personal that morphs into the communal seamlessly.

Just an hour ago I found this: One student team (named the “Kiwi Kitties”) has started calling themselves the “Wikiwikans” and made their own mascot, a Connected Kiwi:

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I comment on it this page by forking it, which is cool, but that’s not the really neat thing. What’s truly neat about this is that this is not a blog, this is a wiki. So I would bet you that within a day or two this mascot travels around to people’s Welcome Pages, bios, Team pages, whatever. And that’s really the difference here. Getting students past the timidity they have editing others work is hard, but evolution is baked into the platform here. Things want to spread, intersect, converge, evolve. It’s your work to start, but it’s not (only) your work for long.

I initially thought I wanted a separate talk page/comment space for comments. I’m not sure now, because I think the idea of writing on other people’s documents is a good thing to get used to. In this case I added a comment, but I also fixed an error or two. And why not?

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If the student wants those changes, they can fork it back and kill my comment. Killing my comment is fine, it shows they read it and it exists in the journal. In classic wiki, you remove the thread discussion when you feel you’ve integrated the thread comments into the main work. For assessment purposes I’ll always have that comment in my journal. I think some form of meta space might still be useful, but surprised how far you can go.

Here’s a good example of how comment could morph into document changes. This is towards the end of a student’s discussion of a local initiative that is not well documented.