November 20, 2019

From Gerald R. Lucas

Spring Planning: Student Log

Girl-writing-in-a-diary free stock photos picjumbo IMG 6037.jpg

For a couple of Wikipedia-supported classes now, I have had students keep a fairly formal journal in which they respond to the assigned texts (course content), outline what they’re learning about writing on Wikipedia (writing), and comment on each others ideas (community). By keeping it on Wikipedia, they learn to use the key elements of the platform, like formatting, linking, and referencing.

This semester, I had them write two posts per week for ten weeks. This is too much for them and for me to keep up with. I think they need a less-formal approach, but one that is still organized and allows them frequent exposure to the MediaWiki platform. How about . . .

3Cs Log

An important requirement for this course is an informal log that you will keep on Wikipedia. The log emphasizes three goals, or “Three Cs”:

  1. Engaging Content: The topic or project you’re writing or editing on Wikipedia. Documenting and planning your work and reflecting on your progress.
  2. Learning MediaWiki-Specific Composition: Discussing and exemplifying the skills you’re learning about the best practices for writing on Wikipedia.
  3. Building Community: Providing comments, feedback, and assistance you give to your classmates.

An important part of education is working through problems in a way that will help your community. When we document our process and struggles, we can better learn from both our successes and failures. By sharing our understanding — our insights, discoveries, frustrations, and epiphanies — we can help clarify the process for ourselves and help strengthen the community we’re building. The overarching goal of the log is to improve Wikipedia.

Log entries should reflect the goals above, but not all will nor should be addressed every time you write. Think of entries a daily accounting on what you accomplished toward your ultimate goal of completing the course requirements. Your log should document your semester’s work and could stand as evidence of your course engagement. If your goal is an A in the course, your 3Cs Log should prove your deserve it. (Not sure what letter grades mean? See Grades and Letter Grade Descriptions.)

Log Location

Your 3Cs Log should not be a single formal document. Instead, each entry should appear on an appropriate talk page on Wikipedia, most often your own user talk page, but sometimes an article’s talk page and another user’s talk page for comments and discussion. (See Wikipedia’s Introduction to Talk Pages.) Remember, as Wikipedia states, talk pages are for “improving the encyclopedia, not for expressing personal opinions on a subject or an editor.” Always keep this in mind when composing entries.

You also might keep an index of your entries somewhere on a web site or a document on your local computer, just in case. It could list the date, topic, and link for each of your entries. This could come in handy if there was ever a question about keeping your log.

Frequency and Format of Entries

Every time you work on Wikipedia for class, you should document it with an entry. Entries should range from 50–200 words, though they can be as long as necessary. They should be focused on a single topic or two. Entries should follow Wikipedia’s talk page conventions (especially for discussions), always including a signature at the end of an entry. (Please read Wikipedia’s Talk Page Guidelines carefully.)

Use links to support what you write. If you discuss additions you made to an article, be sure you link to that article. In other words: use evidence to support what you say. (Remember the third golden rule.)

Commenting and Responding to Others

In addition to your own posts, you should also comment on your colleagues’ posts and respond to their comments when appropriate and necessary, using a notification. Try to comment on at least one other person’s log each time you make an entry on yours. Not only can you learn from what they’re writing, they could gain insights from your comments. Use the talk page format for commenting and responding. (See: Reply, Respond, Comment.)