“A teacher is a professional, one who must constantly seek to improve and to develop certain qualities or virtues which are not received but must be created. The capacity to renew ourselves every day is important.”Paolo Freire (1985)
It is in this spirit and intention that I avidly signed up with others in my Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) to participate in a six week adventure into becoming wiki scholars. The course is designed as part of the Wiki-Education movement and required an application and invitation to participate. The course took place from mid May until the end of June, including weekly meetings with a cohort of collaborators where our learning and wiki contributions were guided under the expertise of a Wiki educator and facilitator, Will Kent.
I actively took on the challenge to learn by going through the course materials, laid out in weekly chunks, with manageable outcomes and deliverables. What immediately struck me was the change in the look and feel of wiki editing from my previous experiences as part of course work for the MET program [see ETEC 510 Design Wiki, Hypertext]. Using the visual editor when working on wiki editing was a welcome change. While some familiarity with HTML editing is still good to know, it is no longer the dominant means of contributing content to Wikipedia. The dashboard for the course was a handy way to keep track of my own progress through the course and the directions others in my cohort were exploring.
Wondering about wiki education? There’s more on the Wiki Education dashboard.
Wondering how to connect wiki education to your teaching? There’s more on the Wiki Education dashboard – Training Libraries.
The part that made this wiki work memorable was the notion of getting it wrong to get it right. This is something I’ve blogged about before [See Getting it Wrong, March 2015]. What I wrote then, I now experienced in this wiki scholars course. There are specific rules and procedures for completing wiki edits and creating wiki articles. There are definitely others who will let you know when you get it wrong, and many more who will help you get it right. My own work with minor edits for grammatical structure, word usage, punctuation corrections, and sentence flow is an example of working toward getting it right. Not perfect, but better than it was. What I’ve come to realize as a result of doing this course and adding new information to Wikipedia is that it is the ultimate of collaborative spaces where information truly belongs to everyone.
Wondering what’s behind the Wikipedia curtain?
What lead me to this discovery was the ‘pulling back of the curtain’ – I’ve been a consumer of Wikipedia information (I’d suspect we all are!), but now I see the mechanics, logistics, and human beings behind the words on the page. In true Freire fashion, I can read the word and read the world through Wikipedia. Let me explain. Every wiki article has layers behind it – a talk page where people can talk to each other about what the page needs, suggestions for improvements, actions taken, edits proposed. There is a history page – where the ebb and flow of edits are revealed. It’s a running record of who did what, when, and why. This is where courtesy and consideration call for an explanation of major edits. This is also where, at any point in the editing process, you can do a side-by-side comparison of versions; the ultimate version control. This is all visible at all times to anyone who wants to see what is happening.
Wondering who’s behind the curtain?
We all can be, but there are many interesting and dedicated people behind the scenes. As a result of the Wiki Education course, I’ve become one of them. I’ll continue to iterate and edit as I read and reference wiki articles, now that I’ve got the skill and confidence to do so. There are ways in this wiki-verse to recognize and celebrate the work being done. Barnstars and WikiLove are two examples of the behind the scenes mechanisms to say thank you. Or click the ‘thanks’ link on any wiki edit to send a direct message of thanks to an individual. Behind the scenes there is fun and humour amongst the wiki workers – WikiFauna is one example. I’ll openly share my WikiChild status, but acknowledge that I’ve got some characteristics of the WikiDodo in my wiki-making. Will Kent shared some of the interesting characters behind the scenes – Anna Frodesiak; Doc James; KylieTastic; and Joe Roe. To truly get a sense of what is going on behind the scenes, you can track changes to Wikipedia OR Listen to Wikipedia (there’s a window that shows a real-time tracking of Wikipedia edits).
Wondering what I did?
Some minor edits, some major revisions, and one brand new article, all done in collaboration with others in the GO-GN network.
- Open educational practices: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_educational_practices
- OER in Canada: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_educational_resources_in_Canada
- Open Thesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_thesis
Wondering where this is going next?
I’ll continue to connect and collaborate with folks like Irwin DeVries [Six Weeks with Wiki Scholar] and Gabi Whitthaus [Art of eLearning blog] on articles of interest in the open educational spaces where I play and learn.
As Alan Levine (aka cogdog) writes [Wikicene Era and Wikidata], it’s the people and places behind the wiki pages we see and read that hold interest for me. I’ll continue to add and edit in Wiki spaces, such as the project Alan mentions, to contribute in other ways. I’ve already added my profile picture to Wikimedia in order to add it to my Wikipedia user’s page. Since my name is a pseudonym this may offer an avenue for those who really want to connect.
I’ll do more research into the use of wiki projects in higher education courses, as share by Petrucco and Ferranti (2020), since “implementing these practices in university teaching calls for careful planning and constant monitoring in order to overcome technical difficulties and effectively manage learning strategies for subject-specific content and digital competences” (p. 43). Some preliminary conversations, and models shared by other educators may help prepare the ground for wiki work in future course offerings in the faculty of education.
And finally, I’m off to the global, virtual Wikimania event coming up in August 2021, just to hang out and learn more.
It’s wondering about wiki that keeps me renewing myself while I revise and edit my teaching and learning practices.
What a wonder!
Freire, P. (1985). Reading the World and Reading the Word: An Interview with Paulo Freire. Language Arts, 62(1), 15-21. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41405241
Image Attribution: By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38618923
Petrucco, C., & Ferranti, C. (2020). Wikipedia as OER: the “Learning with Wikipedia” project. Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society, 16(4), 38–45. https://doi.org/10.20368/1971-8829/1135322