Friday, September 07, 2012

Reflections on the #eduwiki conference

Wikimedia UK After two days at the EduWiki Conference 2012 I want to jot down some personal thoughts before they evaporate.

I have run student assessments on Wikipedia in the past, which weren't entirely successful. For that reason I was particularly interested in this strand of the conference. Toni Sant's presentation on Wikipedia in university teaching was of interest, particularly his assessment criteria:
Content: 20%
Understanding: 30%
Engagement: 40%
Presentation: 10%

However, of even more interest to me was Leigh Thelmadatter describing how she runs Wikipedia assignments in higher education:

Leigh is teaching English as a foreign language, so the exact way she runs her "content-free" projects is not relevant to me, but one thing I would definitely do if I was running this again is to follow her model where students write explicitly for (in the style of) Wikipedia, but the writing, editing and grading is done offline, as a private conversation between student and tutor, with "extra credit" for uploading final outputs which meet acceptability standards to the site - thus separating the contentious grading stage from the actual addition of content to Wikipedia.

Ale started the conference by asking attendees to write down their dreams and nightmares for the future of Wikipedia and deliver them to him by (paper) airmail. As usual, I was light on dreams but had plenty of nightmares:
The weakness of OER/wiki model is failure to motivate individual authors through credit, hence sustainability problems. Will badges solve this or are micropayments needed?
Why should I be a Wikipedia sharecropper when I can get more credit for my output by publishing on my own blogs?
During the course of day two, the concept of Wikipedia being about a user community rather than about content emerged. In my mind, a major problem with OERs has been the repository approach - looking back, it would have been far better to have taken the engaged community approach rather than the file-and-forget model.

I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I signed up for this conference, but looking back it was easily the most thought-provoking event I have been to for some time.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to have you along, AJ, and thanks for your own contributions. Your second question can be understood in two ways. If the question is "what motivates people to contribute to Wikipedia at all, rather than their own sites?", one answer is that I can make a better end product in collaboration with others than I can on my own. I can also reach a much bigger audience. My own blog will never get the thousands of hits per day that my Wikipedia contributions get. If the question is about tension between WP and blogging, I hope people will do both. Wikipedia isn't for original research, personal critical reflections or speculation about the future, so it has a different function to blogs, papers and other personal outlets. Cheers,