A Season in the #fedwiki

What does that title mean, you ask?

During the Teaching Machines Happening, I learned many things that surprised me, and on this post, I’d like to write about two of them–teaching and time. Let me get all hippie dippie on you first and then I’ll try to get academic. Time in the fedwiki, if you have been following this blog at all is something I’ve already written about metaphorically. This time around, I got interested in the actual or literal measurement of time. And what I learned during this Season.

Seasons, in the federated wiki, are the days, weeks, and hours tallied up as time spent reading and writing. Fedwiki Seasons do not align with the calendar we live our lives by day in day out. They don’t correspond with Course Outlines in classes. I’ve now marked a Season of four months. A Season of writing, reading, and thinking in the the fedwiki during my free time. Writing and reading have been the hobby job for me as long as I can remember during all seasons of my life. These activities are nothing new.

What’s new, to me at least, is the federated wiki and how it marks the Seasons of my thoughts. For all that it is or could become–it has taken me out of the doldrums of my own reading, writing, and thinking process. Sounds pretty hippie poetic, right? The doldrums of my thinking. Process of reading and writing. In a Season. Time.

Hippie. You know, kind of like this:

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
‘Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, no breath no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Truly surrealist and drama queen to cite this, right? What the hell is worth learning that happens in a Season? How to measure? How to state and craft objectives for such a Season? I see points of conversion that are really interesting and they are spicing up the usual winds under this painted ship’s sail on this painted ocean. In this Season.

I have no idea how many pages I have written in the fedwiki. I couldn’t really summarize if I’ve accomplished anything. I haven’t “published” anything during this Season (still waiting for rejection letter on one piece, so maybe. And I wrote a draft of it in the fedwiki, so there’s that). I’m not even sure what I’m doing in the fedwiki Happenings is even progressing towards what the creators working on it would want to see.

The doldrums, for me, have lifted. Scattered. Dispersed.

doldrums plural

a :  a spell of listlessness or despondency :  blues

b :  a state of bafflement :  quandary

But here’s the thing: In my corner of the sea during this Season, I’m thinking about research, research writing, collaboration, and portfolio cataloging. I’m not thinking about it as the next big thing in educational technology. If you want to, be my guest. That might be your gig. Rock on. In this next Season, I’ve got two little ideas that I want to pursue.

I think I have found two ways I can use the federated wiki as a result of  both of the Happenings. One is that I can teach other teachers how to use it. I would like to start with my lovely history teacher-friend’s class. I’ve got to get it together to have something coherent to say soon, so let me get bloggy with some ideas.

How to write sample assignments. Create timelines for assignments. How to avoid formative assessment rubrics. Challenge the need for perfect summative artifacts. How to strategize a long-term portfolio project that could be a success as the federated wiki evolves a bit. How do we take an academic year and think of it in terms of project based Seasons. The notion of the Season isn’t a quarter or the semester. It’s a bit of time that you’re using to work on a project. The doldrums of the clock and the calendar could lift a bit with a tool like the federated wiki.

Another Idea with Potential: A Memoir

I have an idea to write my online teacher certification class using the fedwiki and Canvas. The one truly lovely all positive part of my jobby job is teaching/facilitating the online teacher training course for my institution.

To call it a course is a bit generous. I’ve inherited the content from two other projects written by other people and it doesn’t come together the way I’d like it to. For the range of teacher experience I have to address, it feels like it fails. It could be better. I offer it once a quarter. I’m fully in charge of the content under the umbrella of professional development.

So here’s what I’m going to try to make happen. I’m going to put the content–what I now have on Canvas Pages into the federated wiki. It will be just like I integrated a textbook or handbook into my Canvas course. I’m wondering if I can get away with teaching teachers to use it without the factory at first. Just shift-click magic and read. For now. Why hadn’t I thought about that course? I could then share it on with other people who are interested in educating online teachers. Such as it is.

I got this idea playing around with the integration of Lumen Learning’s platform Candela, into Canvas. I then tried to think of using the fedwiki as an assignment connected to one of the readings. Perhaps a more useful start for me is to use my own little course with six-seven teachers at a time. Maybe I’ll just try to build something really small. I’m not sure if I can make this happen. There are some huge projects on the horizon for me until June. This Season is busy. Kinda of booked. Just an idea. [Pause to stare out the window].

Here’s another thing I learned in the fedwiki this Season. I was surprised by my Neighborhood of writers. So interesting! I was in full-on holiday mode for the first Happening, and this one has been busy. Not as much time to read and think big thoughts. No big questions. Two retreats, a webinar, and a conference really killed that time. I’ve been in full fedwiki-creation-mode. For better or for worse. And I write really stupid stuff sometimes.

So I haven’t done a whole lot of forking. Not a lot editing. I’ve done a lot reading outside the fedwiki that started from the fedwiki–so how would you assess that? I didn’t spend a lot of time reading what was posted by others. Also, our use of a Google Group and the Hangouts toned down the use of Twitter a bit from the first Happening, and I’m sure I posted way more than anyone about useless information in that thread. Apologies to folks in my Neighborhood. Maybe I should have shut up and read.

This weekend during this Season, I finally noticed some of the complaints about the fedwiki by some of the participants. Wow. What to say about that? I had no ideas such doldrums existed until two days ago. Honest. I had no idea what others were writing about during most of this Happening. Just a few folks with good titles. If I remember nothing of this Season, I know I’ll remember everything I learned about Wonder Woman for the rest of my days. (That’s a post for another day!)

I saw the doldrums in some comments from the Conversation Club. Lots of complaints about time.

They were corrective: “You should have.”

They were selective: “It would be nice to see X but not Y.”

They were a bit grouchy: “I can’t seem to engage with.”

They were lists of wishes: “Wouldn’t be good if we could add.”

There were bits of frustrated sounding language. Frankly, I missed your Season.

My Season, as the snowboarder brahs say, was motha fuckin’ righteous. Kinda bitchin. Beyond stoked. I realized that if you do not have really fantastic title, I don’t click on your work and read it. I don’t see your Season.

This Season I’ve generated thoughts that I can trace back by titles written by others. By me. There are no tags. No bookmarks. I can go back and trace my thoughts by days, weeks, a month, or a Season. Everyone doesn’t have to love or like everything I do. But really, I’ve got to be honest with you. If you complain about the federated wiki, here’s what plays in my head as I listen to or read your words:

Thanks, Iggy. You’d hang out in my Season. I just know it.

The federated wiki has been described as a curio cabinet, but it’s also my junk drawer. It’s my DIY zine of copied thoughts of others. It’s an easy tool that is somehow sounding way more complicated than it is. Perhaps it’s because we’re comparing it to products or software that we already use. If I want to diss on Google Docs to help me think about the federated wiki, then I will. Now that I’ve done it, maybe I should stop. I need to describe it as more of a tool that promotes a certain mindset. That’s what it is.

During a recent Google Hangout, somebody said that if we do anything with the fedwiki then we’d like to create more voracious readers. Yes. I’d also like to see more insatiable writers thinking about the things that they’ve read. Yes. That too. You can do both or either in a Season. That’s the life-long learning thing that sounds so hippie. So idealistic. So romantic. So truly hard to quantify with data-driven decisions. So hard to measure with standard measurements of time. So hard to please everyone. No fun, my babe. 

What’s so appealing to me is that it’s easy to share information in the federated wiki. Easy to get interested in what’s posted. Or easy to change directions with your thoughts. Find out more about something else. Or another thing. Easy. There’s space to be creative with other people about information that is freely available on the Internet. Just by claiming your site, you are embracing open education’s notion of connected learning. You’re spending a Season with your thoughts in the mix with other people’s thoughts in a Season.

It’s a bit of a compass for research while being  a roulette of other people’s thoughts (not the Russian type, Thanks Kate and your careful reading). Whether I’ve spent an hour, a day, a week, or a Season, I’ve learned something with the federated wiki. Why couldn’t somebody else love this style of learning?

Say that last paragraph out loud. Now you sound like a dreamer, right? Hippie dippie nonsense. Hippie Idealists. Fooled into thinking there is a solution in education in the Season of Snark. Well. Yes.

If you’re not looking for solutions in education, then here’s the other song title in my head when I think of your ideas:

About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
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1 Response to A Season in the #fedwiki

  1. Pingback: Too New To Be Named | Spoke & Hub

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