Meatspace (February 5, 2008)
From Case Studies Wiki
The post is just replicated here to catch all the words for archive purposes, to read the post in its original form and see the links, photos, videos etc., go here:http://www.good.group.shef.ac.uk/blog/?p=65 February 5, 2008 Meatspace Filed under: Tuesdays » GoodPractice @ 3:16 pm Today Tim Herrick posts…I think he makes some very good points indeed. No arguments from me at all. No, nope, na uh.
I’ll fess up. I agreed to do this for Nadine because I wanted to pick up hints on how to make a wiki work. My main experience has been with one my colleague Willy Kitchen set up, connecting tutors in the South Yorkshire area. It got off to a good start, with a few people leading; then faltered; and now seems beached. “I look at it regularly”, one non-contributor told me; “but there’s nothing new, so I leave again”.
I think Nadine’s greatest triumph has been to reduce anxiety around crossing the threshold of new technologies. The symbiosis between the blog and the wiki seems inspired, as does encouraging people to engage with both, via the stick of scheduled blogging and the carrot of the USB wrist-container-Wonder-Woman armband. I wonder if there’s an intentional feeder from the blog - which is a form most academics (am I being too naïve here?) will have encountered and possibly participated in, to the wiki, which perhaps requires just that edge more geekiness. The simplicity of submitting wiki entries is therefore welcome in helping participants over that strange and potentially risky barrier. I want to highlight two reasons why it’s important to emphasise this notion of a threshold. Firstly, it’s what we ask our students to do all the time - not necessarily in the literal sense of asking them to engage with new technologies, but certainly in the broader context of trying new things where other people seem expert. And secondly, because I think we should be aware that not all staff members are going to want to cross the threshold alone.
I was really impressed that the recent workshop on workshops included not just the usual suspects in teaching and learning discussions, but also a new crop of interested parties. (Maybe it was the Yorkshire puddings with caramelised red onions, who knows?) These kind of open, inclusive events are absolutely what we need, and what this blog and wiki should reflect. As technologies, they are geared up precisely for democratic participation and open discussion, and we (you and me, readers) need to facilitate their use as such throughout the institution. This may require interventions in what geeks sometimes refer to as meatspace - the face-to-face interactions of the tangible, corporeal world. Their participatory strengths as technology need to be supported by social, human interactions that help overcome the threshold of anxiety.
So, a suggestion. Each and every one of you reading this blog should talk about the case studies blog and wiki with someone in your department who is interested in teaching and learning, but hasn’t really got involved. Share one of the excellent examples you’ve come across on the wiki; or one of the blog entries that really made you think. Talk to your colleague first; then send them a link as a follow-up, or suggest they come to one of the workshops. Hold the (metaphorical) door open for them, and let them know it’s worth coming in. This project is a precious space for discussing teaching and learning, and we need to keep it as broad and participative as possible. What I suggested to my colleague above who’d been visiting the wiki but not contributing was that maybe others had been doing the same thing. We all want to talk about learning, but it can be tricky to find someone to start off. So if not you, then who?
Tim Herrick, TILL
One good turn deserves another Tim. So here’s a free hint on wikis for Tim and all of you interested…I am setting up a “how to” workshop on wikis (for the Case Studies Project and in your teaching) shortly. Details to come within the next couple of weeks, keep coming back and reading to find out more. If you work more by learning, simply send me a Case Study and I’ll give you your own personal tutorial. Yup. It’s that easy. A Case Study for one-on-one wiki time.