Edutechie - the adventures of a learning technologist

Eli Appleby-Donald's views of educational technology

Category: Teaching with tech

image_pdfimage_print
Photo by: Paul Dodds 2016 https://www.pauldodds.com/

Variety, apparently it’s the spice of life

For all the folk out there in the blogosphere who also work in higher education, let me just say, we made it! It’s Friday of week 1 and all that work over the summer months and the craziness of welcome week / freshers week has passed and we can now get back to what we do best, as educators.

For me, this has meant the slightly more frivolous items (like personal development and my blog posts) have had to take a back seat while I concentrated on the real nuts and bolts of getting everyone I work with ready for the new semester and implementing the constant change of learning technology. It didn’t mean that I stopped thinking about my blog or the various posts I had intended to write, just that they were thoughts and not actions. But here’s the thing, some thinking time is a good thing and because I had thinking time, my thoughts and plans have come together and actually instead of the handful of posts I had intended, those experiences over the summer have brought that together into this one post.

In response to task 5 & 6 from 23things.ed.ac.uk

Diversity

OK hands up, who read that header and sighed and rolled your eyes? It’s ok, you are in a safe space, you can admit it here.

I know exactly where you are coming from. The word diversity sparks memories of those three-hour workshops your boss makes you go to, usually with a tutor who has been brought in from some external company to help the company on its mission to meet legal obligations. Right? Oh don’t worry, I know… in fact… I used to be that very tutor. So you know, it’s ok, I know where you are coming from.

Thing is, I could go into trainer spiel about compliance, triple-A, disability law, the equality act etc but I know you’d glaze over. So instead let me just talk about this summer and how my experiments with emojis and bitmojis fed into the classes I was running over the summer.

I found the specific topic of bitmojis quite difficult to write about, well actually I struggled to think about what I could write about. It just felt like yeah, yeah we all know this stuff, there’s nothing new to say here and nothing we write will be without some controversy. It’s a hard topic, you just can’t put yourself into somebody else’s shoes, because those shoes only fit one person. For example, reading about the dilemma caused by having emojis representing ethnic groups and if you should use the emoji which represents your ethnic group or not. That was actually quite a shock to me. I could understand why having an emoji you felt represented you, at last, would be a celebration and why you might decide you want to use it, but genuinely it hadn’t occurred to me that using one that didn’t represent your ethnic group might cause offence. I was also aware that I could go around and ask people what their experience was and everything one would have a different experience or view. So it wasn’t a one size fits all experience. So I’ve done a lot of thinking about this, which I will admit took me on a bit meandrous route. But it led me to an interesting thought… visibility.

In my role, I come across so many students and staff on a daily basis. I don’t always know all of them, and I usually don’t have a very personal relationship with most of them, but the idea of that celebration of finally having something to digitally represent you when you haven’t for so long made me think back to when I was student age. For me, back in the 80s and 90s, I was desperate for any signs of other gay people. Any adult in my life, who had a proper job, was respected and who might possibly be gay, sent me into a frenzy of hope. OMG, maybe it’s ok for me to think about being a teacher. Maybe I won’t be excluded because I’m gay. etc etc

Now we may seem miles away from the topic of accessibility or emojis and especially where is the learning technology in this? Well, let me put it this way.

This summer, I stood at the front of a classroom 21 times. On almost all of those occasions I was leading a class of new staff, usually much younger than me and almost all of them were very new to education. When I stand in front of that class, I am a very visual representation of an older woman in a technology-driven role. I am a very visual and audible representation of a working-class woman in academia. I am a visual representation of a lesbian in academia and I am usually the first person they have been able to speak to and ask questions of who has the kind of disabilities that we ask them to be aware of when they are using technologies in the university.

This is where my reading of the emoji articles got me thinking. Is that enough? Is it enough that we all exist in all our gorgeous diversity? Because lets face it, the majority of interactions with me will not be face to face, so most people won’t know what I look like, what my background is, usually they won’t even hear my accent and mostly they won’t be aware that that interaction with me has probably been more draining for me than it has been for them. So can we add another level to this in our digital interactions? And should we?

I gave this a bit of thought and a wee bit of application over the summer and this is what I have done.

Most of my interactions with colleagues are over our email/communications system. So I have added my photo to this. It means when I am in an email conversation, my image pops up so they know who they are dealing with. It also adds my image when they search for me on our internal systems.

Different versions of me people will now see around the university

I’ve added an image to our VLE as well, in my profile, so now when I add content to courses, message students, put out announcements, bang, they can see my face smiling back at them. I think this one for me is particularly important as I want students, who are mostly young people to be able to see that there are opportunities for them in all sorts of fields and we don’t all have to look a certain way, be a certain age or be a specific gender.

Now the biggest change, I have added a voice mail to my phone. Doesn’t seem like a big deal huh? Well for me this is, I still, even as a proper grown-up (although that’s debatable) I still worry about my accent. I have a strong Glasgow accent, quite noticeably working class and I have had comments. However, if I was surrounded by people with a variety of accents, some of which were clearly accents I felt were relatable, maybe I’d feel different about my own.

Now that was a very roundabout and quite a wordy blog post to talk about the opportunity to be visible on our digital systems and why we should be. But I think it is very interesting how a thought on emojis has led me down a very interesting path about the importance of there being visual representation of difference and normalising the diversity in our lives in order to reduce some of the crippling societal bonds. Maybe this might just be a way to tackle things like imposter syndrome in academia. Understandings of each other and maybe, you never know, but maybe it might even have an impact on artificial intelligence, algorithms and things like facial recognition and the experiences of people who don’t look like the software programmer.

Ok so maybe I am reaching here, but let me ask you, how many of you have a picture on your staff profile? I know of at least three people who have put pictures of their dogs as their staff profile picture. Maybe… it’s time to be brave and get out there to the front line.

Be visible in all your diverse glory.

Some interesting reading

Brown, N. and Leigh, J. (2018), “Ableism in academia: where are the disabled and ill academics?”, Disability & Society, Routledge, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 985–989.

Byrne, G. (2019), “Individual weakness to collective strength: (Re)creating the self as a ‘working-class academic’”, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol. 12 No. 1-2, pp. 131–150

Dar, S. and Salmon, U. (2019), “Inside the Ivory Tower: Narratives of Women of Colour Surviving and Thriving in British Academia edited by Deborah Gabriel and Shirley Ann Tate. London, UK: Trentham Books/IOE Press, 2017, 164 pp.,£ 24.36, ISBN 10-185856848X, ISBN 13-978-185856848”, Gender, Work, and Organization, academia.edu, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 64–67.

National Center for Institutional Diversity. (2018), “The Power of Academic Role Models ‘Like Me’”, Medium, Spark: Elevating Scholarship on Social Issues, 23 March, available at: https://medium.com/national-center-for-institutional-diversity/the-power-of-academic-role-models-like-me-7f4f2c59279d (accessed 20 September 2019).

“Role model being yourself: sexual orientation and the workplace”. (n.d.). Https://www.stonewall.org.uk/, available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/role_models.pdf.

Formative assessments are pointless

I work in a school (in a university) which uses formative assessment, a lot. Almost every course we run has an assessment part of the way through the year where students receive feedback but no grade, but I am fully aware that to others this seems crazy and I’ve even heard, a waste of time. Even from a student’s perspective I’ve heard of complaints that an assignment with no grade is pointless (see what I did there) and they are too busy to waste time on such thing.

I disagree and here is why.

A good formative assessment is not a stand alone thing which has no purpose. It is part of the learning experience of your students and should offer them an opportunity to assess their learning, see where they have knowledge gaps and gain feedback and insight.  Where formative assessment is pointless, is when it isn’t part of the whole and doesn’t feed into the students learning in a meaningful way. Let me explain.

Part way through the semester students submit an assessment. It is formative, they will receive no grade. However what this does is give them a chance to write an essay (or other form of assessment) on the course material they have learned so far which doesn’t have the pressure and the high stakes of feeding directly into a grade, which for a student who doesn’t feel like “they quite get it yet” is much less stressful.

It gives an opportunity to to get feedback which will guide them in the areas where they may be weaker and therefore a chance for them to get stronger, crucially, before it’s time to submit a graded assignment. Also in some cases, they gain an opportunity to practice submitting an assignment. It could be practice at formatting a document, submitting to an electronic system or using a new tool to create materials. Either way they get a practice run again without the high stakes pressure of things affecting their final grade.

Now feedback doesn’t only come from the course teacher, feedback can also come from peers and experience (maybe of submitting to said system etc). But when this really comes into it’s own is when the feedback is feedforward (I know lots of you hate this word but it really is the best way for me to describe what I mean), when the feedback directly relates to how to improve so that your summative grade is better than it could have been. This I think is a crucial element of feedback. Feedback must come at a time when it can be acted upon so that it can make a difference. Feedback in week 12 after the assignments are submitted and the course is complete is a bit like the old bullseye catchphrase, “look at what you could have won”.

Lastly, I know all too well that there is a feeling that students don’t bother reading feedback, so why then should we bother. Well, maybe we need to address why student are not reading feedback and see if we can rectify this? Are we actually closing the loop on feedback? Are we saying here is feedback now go action it, then checking and saying, show me how you have auctioned this feedback?

Do students understand the benefits of taking part in a formative assignment, even though it will not directly feed a grade into their course?

Sometimes believe it or not, student don’t actually understand what we think is obvious. They just feel time poor, especially since they are usually studying multiple courses each semester, and they may not be able to make the connection between opportunities to improve their work and that final grades that seems so far off from now.

Have a think about this when you are in the course design phase of your next course and see if you can actively design in opportunities for formative assessment.

Photo by: Paul Dodds 2016 https://www.pauldodds.com/

Standardisation, safe and comforting or driving out creativity in teaching?

The higher education sector is vast and in many instances the institutions themselves are trying to find the best ways to cope with extraordinarily large class sizes and student volumes, but obviously without wishing to recruit vast numbers of staff or create an endless loop of administrative burden onto those staff. It’s in this area that the latest learning technology project I’ve become aware of has appeared and got me thinking. It set me thinking about a student paper I wrote specifically about VLEs (virtual learning environments) and to ask questions about creativity in teaching whilst using VLEs as a standard university tool.

I focussed on the thoughts of our digital age and the fact that we have the seemingly limitless resource of the internet at our finger tips and of how it is seen as a highly valuable resource for learning and is heavily used by the current and coming student population who were raised in a world of accessible, digital technology.  But there are concerns that these very students are experiencing digital dissonance in educational institutions (Chattie and Jarke, 2007) where these views are not necessarily shared for learning in an educational setting. Some studies have gone so far as to suggest that students have difficulty setting boundaries between formal or informal learning even when the institutions they attend try to enforce them, and that web 2.0 applications are therefore a necessary part of the 21st-century student toolkit (Clark et al., 2009) where today’s students have a wealth of experience with blogging, podcasting, sharing and collaborating over the internet in every day life and therefore it’s much more likely that they will adopt a social (web 2.0) driven practice based on collaboration and networking to their studies naturally.

With this in mind, how does the drive in our institutions of standardised platforms, controlled by administration and policy fair against this culture of social learning?  Again I think it’s important to acknowledge that regardless of our opinions on standardisation of learning tools, there are reasons behind it, reasons of administrative burden, controlling the quality of students experience (to ensure a consistently good experience). As I mentioned, I chose to explore this thought in a much more formal setting of higher education for myself.  I examined the affordances of web 2.0 as a tool to create social learning, by looking at its value as an open technology, the amount of control afforded to the creator of content and at the potential outcomes of using the tool. Then turn this same examination onto the virtual learning environments I use both as a student and an employee of higher education, to ask if the homogeneity of education technology is helpful or hindering? Did the good outweigh the bad?

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is defined broadly as the more communicative, personal and participatory form of the world-wide-web, emphasising active participation, collaboration and connectivity to share knowledge and ideas and to actively contribute content. It’s also sometimes referred to as the “Read-Write Web” (Price 2006; Richardson 2006) as it offers more than the read-only, passivity of the original web. Web 2.0 applications have received growing interest from the educational sector over the last ten years (Alexander 2006) as they are seen to hold potential for addressing the needs of today’s millennial student population, enhancing the learning experiences through networking, collaboration and community (Bryant 2006).  This then reinforces constructivist pedagogies popular in teaching (Gillani 2000; Jonassen 1995; Jonassen & Land 2000; Relan & Gillani 1996).

Web 2.0 contains software or applications which support social learning through community and group interaction, although we could argue that the previous form of the web supported social interaction through email, chat rooms and discussion boards, the tools available through web 2.0 not only offer social interaction, feedback and networking, but are more flexible and collaborative allowing media to be shared, combined and built on to create new ideas, concepts, and mashups. Social networking applications like facebook and twitter now also offer users the possibility to interact in real time using webcams and microphones.  Web 2.0 is not radically different from the previous version of the web; rather it is the affordances offered by the applications available which have changed.

It is these affordances which offer the opportunity to use web 2.0 as an open tool for education. Blogs, wikis, social networking, and video sharing applications all have potential as a pedagogical tool to offer the opportunity to increase communication, interaction and co-creation, supporting learning which occurs in a social, collaborative form when students use these tools to create collective activity.

Being web-based and created with communication in mind, there are little boundaries for the opportunity to communicate and share globally with other users.

The VLE

Web 2.0 collaborative tools and their benefits are widely recognised within our higher education institutions, and the implementation of single point of access technology platforms incorporating these tools are now widespread and known as virtual learning environments (VLE). These systems are mostly propriety in nature created specifically for the purpose of managing,  specifically managing learners, teaching materials, student work and access in an educational setting.

Accessibility to education, control of overheads and quality control are the three most commonly given reasons for the shift in delivery modes to that of technology-driven delivery (Daniel 2003). It’s ability to meet these needs means the adoption of VLEs has been swift (Oblinger and Kidwell, 2000), with ninety-five percent of UK universities now using them (Lonn and Teasley, 2009).  These platforms also combine a range of course management and pedagogical tools to provide a method of designing, building and delivering teaching. Those tools do include the afore mentioned blogs, wikis and discussion forums.

The greatest potential of the VLE to the university is that they are scalable systems able to support a class cohort of hundreds as easily as ten thereby offering the opportunity to enroll and teach a larger volume of students offering an economy of scale. They can also be used to provide administrative support to an entire university’s teaching programmes or to house the entire catalogue of teaching materials but are creating a battle over control of teaching and pedagogy (Chattie and Jarke 2007). The key to the use of these technologies by the University, however, is the enrollment of students. These systems are locked down only allowing access to the materials and tools within to those who are enrolled as users, meaning the university dictates the community within.

Web 2.0 technologies in general, are seen to reinforce constructivist pedagogies (Gillani 2000; Jonassen 1995; Relan & Gillani 1996). Theorists claim that the internet can improve learning by giving learners access to an infinite library of resources. Arguing that internet technologies can be used to make course contents more cognitively accessible ( Coates et al., 2005) to the individual by encouraging interaction with a richer, more diverse knowledge network.

Some VLEs do offer tools for pedagogical functions including; synchronous and asynchronous communication like email, blogging, announcement pages, and discussion forums content development and delivery by hosting learning resources in repositories, offering links to resources and text-based information areas choice tests and group work and feedback tools, as well as course or student management from enrollment to managing student activities, But the network connections of these are restricted within the “safe” confines of the institution’s systems, reducing the potential for the creation of communities of learning or collaboration outwith that student’s class cohort. VLEs, therefore, suggest a closed classroom approach to learning at a time when some scholars are calling for the increased use of open, community technologies to be brought into effective learning and teaching for the twenty-first century (Brown and Adler 2008).

Control

In contrast to the restriction of community and locking of design, web 2.0 applications like blogs allow infinite customisation options to users through both editable “skins” and access to the underlying code for those who are more skilled. The content users generate on these can also then be shared publicly through the platform used to create the content or by sharing with other platforms and application.

VLEs offer “universities a hitherto undreamt-of capacity to control and regulate teaching” (Coates et al., 2005, p.p. 25). The built-in functionality within each system allows for easy customisation of the look and feel of the student experience, within limits, without the need for web development skills. Many institutions provide a ready to use standardised template or guides for such customisation to ensure quality control and to help reduce the administrative workload placed on staff. This allows course owners to make use of customised headers and graphics to identify their course from others but limits the ability to alter structure or tool performance, essentially forcing conformity. VLEs can also be seen to conform to a classroom metaphor, encouraging didactic teaching (Sheely, 2006) rather than creativity and by “locking down” the system elements, transfer the control of teaching material design from the teacher and onto the institution itself reducing the influence of the teacher over the teaching of her class.

Outcomes

“VLEs are not pedagogically neutral technologies” (Coates et al., 2005, 27),  instead, through their design, they can and do influence teaching. As the VLE and other learning technologies become part of everyday teaching practice, they will invisibly influence and may even define teachers’ creativity, expectations, and behaviours. This may be particularly the case for newer academics with less experience (Frand 2000). The inclusion of VLEs into universities makes it likely that new teachers will gain a great deal of their experience in design and delivery of teaching through these systems (Coates et al., 2005). These are important considerations given the possibility that, increasingly, VLEs will play the major role in how teachers learn to teach.  Currently, there has been a lack, if any studies on the pedagogical effects of VLEs and this must be corrected.The hyperbole of technology being an educational remedy often stalls critical discussion of educational technology as a tool for teaching and learning (McLoughlin and Lee, 2008a). Therefore research tends to focus on implementation rather than pedagogy with regard to VLEs (Lonn and Teasley 2009) meaning more investigation is needed into pedagogy and learning to allow implementation decisions to focus on these rather than administrative wins.

Although web 2.0 applications can offer increased community of learning opportunities and personal control over the student’s own work, it must be remembered that these too come with potential outcomes for the student and teaching. Access to a great library of content to use and share must be respected, and web 2.0 and its sharing abilities for learning and teaching should go hand in hand with teaching about responsibilities and rights regarding the work of others. Because the ability to share everything that is available, means students must be taught about when it is and isn’t appropriate to share.

Conclusion

Educational technology can only raise the levels of learning and teaching if we allow it to be fully part of the process of both rather than merely an administrative tool clothed as pedagogy. Web 2.0 applications allow users choice and control as well as learning opportunities through rich, global, communities of knowledge rather than passive and solitary learning. However by restricting the ability of the student to access these tools, for the teacher to design how to incorporate these tools, or by simple restricting the community students can access, we are offering no more than the didactic or cartesian classrooms of the industrial era. Learning management systems offer much in the way of cost reduction and quality assurance for institutions, but aside from being a single point of entry, offer little to improve student learning and can shackle the creativity of the teacher.

References

Alexander, B., 2006. A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning? Educause Review, 42(2), pp.32–44. Available at: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0621.pdf

Brown, J. S. & Adler, R. P. 2008. Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. Educause Review, 43(1), pp.16–32. Available at: http://er.educause.edu/~/media/files/article-downloads/erm0811.pdf

Bryant, T. 2006. Social software in academia, Educause Quarterly, 29(2), 61-64.http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0627.pdf

Chatti, M.A., Jarke, M. & Frosch-Wilke, D. 2007. The future of e-learning: a shift to knowledge networking and social software. International Journal of Knowledge and Learning, 3(4-5), pp.404–420. Available at: http://www.inderscienceonline.com/doi/abs/10.1504/IJKL.2007.016702

Clark, W. et al., 2009. Beyond Web 2.0: mapping the technology landscapes of young learners. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25(1), pp.56–69. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2008.00305.x

Coates, H., James, R. & Baldwin, G., 2005. A critical examination of the effects of learning management systems on university teaching and learning. Tertiary Education and Management, 11(1), pp.19–36. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13583883.2005.9967137

Daniel, J., Kanwar, A. & Uvalić-Trumbić, S. 2009. Breaking Higher Education’s Iron Triangle: Access, Cost, and Quality. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 41(2), pp.30–35. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/CHNG.41.2.30-35

Downes, S. 2005. E-learning 2.0. eLearn Magazine, an ACM Publication. Available at: http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=1104968

Frand, J.L. 2000. The Information Age Mindset:Changes in Students and Implications for Higher Education. Educause Review 35(5),14-24. Available at: https://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0051.pdf

Gillani, B.B. 2000. Using the Web to Create Student Centred Curriculum. In R.A.Cole(ed.), Issues in Web Based Pedagogy. London:Greenwood Press.

Jonassen,D.H.1995.Constructivism: Implications for Designs and Delivery of Instruction. New York:Scholastics.

Lonn, S. & Teasley, S.D. 2009, “Saving time or innovating practice: investigating perceptions and uses of learning management systems”, Computers and Education, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 686-94. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131509001006

McLoughlin, C. and Lee, M.J.W. 2008. The three P’s of pedagogy for the networked society: personalization,participation,and productivity, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 10-27. Available at: http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/past2.cfm?v=20&i=1

Oblinger, D. & Kidwell, J. 2000.Distance Learning:Are we being Realistic? Educause Review 35(3), 30-39. Available at: https://er.educause.edu/~/media/files/articles/2000/5/erm0032.pdf?la=en

Price, K. 2006. Web 2.0 and education: What it means for us all. Paper presented at the 2006 Australian Computers in Education Conference, 2-4 October, Cairns, Australia.

Relan, A. & Gillani, B.B. 1996. Web Based Instruction and the Traditional Classroom:Similarities and Differences.In B.H.Khan(ed.),Web Based Instruction. Englewood Cliffs: Educational Technology Publications.

Richardson, W. 2006. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other powerful tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks,CA: Sage.

Sheely, S. 2006. Persistent technologies: Why can’t we stop lecturing online? In L. Markauskaite, P.Goodyear & P. Reimann (Eds), Who’s learning? Whose technology? Proceedings of the 23rd ASCILITE Conference (pp. 769-774). Sydney, NSW: CoCo, University of Sydney.http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/sydney06/proceeding/pdf_papers/p167.pdf

Sclater, N. 2008. Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments, and the Future of Learning Management Systems. Available at: https://library.educause.edu/resources/2008/6/web-20-personal-learning-environments-and-the-future-of-learning-management-systems

Photo: Eli Appleby-Donald 2018

Thank you for taking the time to say thank you: EUSA Teaching Award

It has been a very, very long time since I blogged here and I am royally ashamed of this. I just let things get in the way and stopped taking time to sit down and actively share. Today, however, something happened which gave me a bit of a jolt and reminded me that a small gesture can make a big difference and I just want to take the chance to say thank you to that person.

Today I received a badge in the university’s internal mail. It doesn’t sound like much, but this little badge to me, is the equivalent of a Blue Peter badge, but for work. Today I found out that a student had taken the time to email into the student’s union and nominate me for a teaching award. It is a small thing, and to most folk, students and staff alike, it probably feels too small and like it won’t make much difference. I want to just take a moment to correct that thought and tell you that it does. It makes a HUGE difference.

The fact that someone thought the work I do is important enough that it made a difference to them. That I somehow helped them in their studies the way people have helped me, feels amazing and is exactly why I do this job.

I am proudly wearing my badge and showing it to everyone I can stop for 20 seconds. So to whoever that student is, thank you. I really appreciate the time and effort you made to write in and explain why you think I deserved recognition.

Shared under Creative Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipedia_mini_globe_handheld.jpg

Wikipedia – for teaching and learning

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.

That is the vision statement of the world’s largest open educational resource Wikipedia. Just in case there is anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Wikipedia, it’s a massive free online encyclopedia which is written and edited by internet users.  It has long had a reputation of not being reliable, of being a repository of information that is neither credible nor peer-reviewed simple because it is written and edited by internet users, but is this still the case? Should we continue to discourage students from using Wikipedia to access information?

I have to hold my hand up and admit that I have long discouraged the use of Wikipedia, citing it as unreliable but I will now admit my mistake and retract that statement. I’ve learned just how much work and collaboration and peer review goes into every article on Wikipedia. How an article will not be accepted if it does not have academically acceptable sources to support its information and I’ve learned all this because this past year has seen me in a fantastic journey of discovery.

The University has taken on a Wikipedian in Residence, meaning we now have an expert in using Wikipedia for teaching available to all of us who’d like to learn more or start using this fantastic OER.  He has helped to run some outstanding events around the use of Wikipedia and more importantly about making sure the information on Wikipedia is top-notch and he’s also pushing to correct the gender balance which exists amongst both editors. Only 15% of people who edit Wiki articles are female meaning there is a slant towards biographies and articles about men and those about women are woefully under represented.

So far this year there have been loads of events or editathons where students and staff have come together to update or create new articles, just a few to mention are;

and there are still a lot more to come.

But the purpose of these has not just been about updating the Open Educational Resource of Wikipedia, it’s been about teaching the people involved digital skills, research skills, how to use citations and collaboration skills.

The process engages students, and in some cases engages with students who had perhaps been less confident when working on traditional assignments, in researching the topic and applying the digital literacy skills required to achieve the creation of an article. The end result is not an essay that could potentially be filed away and forgotten but instead something that adds to “the sum of human knowledge” and is discoverable by other readers and editors all over the world so that they, in turn, can add more to it.

This is a massive topic and I’m conscious of not producing a huge and unwieldy blog post so if you are interested in learning more about the use of Wikipedia in teaching, here are some starter for ten links to get your research groove on.

And watch out for an update when New College hosts its very own editathon in November where I’ll be joining in and putting my newly learned wikipedian skills to the test.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

css.php

Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.

  Cancel