November 18, 2019

From Gerald R. Lucas

Spring Planning


Now that a big project is off my desk, I can begin on others, including designing my courses for the spring semester. I’ve learned a lot this term about teaching online with Wikipedia which I intend to put to use in designing my courses for the spring. I have four different classes (!): three online classes and a World Literature. While I have thought about having an experimental section of ENGL 2111 that uses Wikipedia, I think it would have to be sold that way, or at least be an honors section. I’ll hold off.

Two of the online courses are the usual suspects: NMAC 4460 and NMAC 5108. Both will use Wikipedia. For New Media (maybe the last time I have to teach it!), I’m thinking of a tutorial-like approach: where the students work on one major project and learn to write on Wikipedia. This is similar to how I have the course set up this term; however, I’ll build in times for mandatory conferences — maybe three. Based on my experience this semester, many could have benefited from some face-to-face time, though few (the ones who really need it) will voluntarily do it. For training, I'll use WikiEdu again, but maybe have the class work on a group project that they all edit together, like a book we can read as a class.

I’m also considering a more holistic approach to grading: maybe a hybrid quantitative and a qualitative. I’m not a numbers guy, so I’ve been thinking about how to eliminate numerical scores altogether. While this might not be possible or advisable, I could emphasize more abstract evaluations, like participation. “How am I doing in the class?” Why don’t you come in and we’ll look it over. “What’s my current grade?” What do you feel it is? Why? This approach might cause more work for me, but if they are using Wikipedia, their work will be recorded throughout the semester. How’s that for a quick and easy way to evaluate?

Instead of a mandatory weekly journal, I think I’ll have them keep an informal log on their talk pages about what they’re learning, what they’re doing, and what they intend to do, both in learning to use Wikipedia and their chosen article’s content. This would be a good place to encourage class interaction, too. And it wouldn’t break Wikipedia.