Sten Sundin, teacher in sound and music production at Dalarna University, participated in the course occasion in Stockholm. Sten is now looking for the right way for him to contribute to Wikipedia and Wikimedia. Perhaps by providing sound in some way. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The course has had a motivational and inspirational influence and made it more likely for me to write on Wikipedia. Things I did not know were the active discussions on Wikipedia. Attitude in the discussions that I've seen is not so competitive. People try to help each other. It is more fun to do voluntary work if I both learn something and can do something together with others. "
He has deepened his knowledge about Wikipedia and he masters "skills both on how to write articles practically and technically, and also what to think about in terms of quality and what are the appropriate topics that one can write about - what is relevant. " "I look positively upon using Wikipedia as a research tool. It is of course important to have a critical approach and evaluate sources. There are constantly discussions about if you can use Wikipedia as a reference. I urge students that Wikipedia is a starting point and that you can not be satisfied to stay there. "Sten thinks that Wikipedia has gained greater acceptance among teachers and the latest five years people realize the value of Wikipedia. A good motto: Wikipedia is not perfect but fantastic.
Sten has also got better on the markup language in MediaWiki. "It's easier to write a letter to the editor in the newspaper or update your status on Facebook than writing in MediaWiki," according to Sten. In Dalarna University "we had plans on MediaWiki but chose to retain MindTouch wiki because we evalued that some computer-inexperienced students in the nursing program would have problems with MediaWiki", Sten writes. "I'm trying to streamline the task so that students can focus on the important things, for example, to do a literature study". Sten is however tempted to allow the students to use MediaWiki because it would make it easier for students to participate in Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects.
Sten's students are using a wiki to perform and present their tasks because a wiki provides good opportunities for collegial learning - "peer learning". Also – since much of Sten's teaching is done remotely, "it's valuable to have established contact with the students in a virtual community before you meet each other for the first lesson."
One challenge is to adjust the wiki task that I let my students do today so that it comes closer to Wikipedia. But if I add an element of Wikipedia in my teaching, would I then have to remove something else? Because teaching with Wikipedia integration is more comprehensive ... Sten weighs arguments ... "Perhaps it would yet be worth the integration." "Students should be able to respond to arguments in a discussion on Wikipedia." With my background (as a teacher in sound and music production), I could bring something to the media section to Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia. Visualizing, sound recording in order to illustrate concepts, articles ... of routine we teachers let students report in writing and orally. I am open to allow students to a greater extent report on a wiki and maybe let them report with sounds and images.
What are the obstacles to use wikis in education? "Some of my teaching colleagues are not so positive towards using wikis in their teaching. They want to teach in the simplest way and do as they are accustomed. They feel that it's a small threshold that requires more preparation. We have no infrastructure support for our wiki like we have for our learning platform. In the learning platform, there are others who ensures that all participants are included. On a wiki, I have to create a number of pages where students get their tasks, build a framework for the tasks and archive files from last year. In my teaching this means dozens of pages. It is about both formating the text on the pages and managing links. Managing links is not trivial. "Almost half of the students have not succeeded in creating a link back to the own article, despite instructions that Sten has tried. He really has endeavored to make instructions easily available, searchable, and easy to find and understand, where the student exist and the instructions are needed.
Bia Rask, teacher of media and Swedish at JB Gymnasiet, did not waste any time and did a oneclick installation of MediaWiki on her school's webhotel on the first day's course in Skellefteå. During the course, she laid the foundation for her lecture sessions. Contact: email@example.com
Bia could "absolutely nothing about wiki before. All I know today comes from the course. Wikipedia content is no surprise, but how to edit and how to see what is done on the talk page and the history. I was fascinated by how it is designed from a technical point of view. "
Bia has made a flying start and has already used the pedagogical scenario which she has been involved in developing – a lecture series that started on April 17 : "Together, you shall make a basic photography school. It shall be so clear that even a beginer understands the content. Use both text and explanatory images (own or from Wikimedia Commons)." Bia's students? They are second year students (roughly 16-20 years) of a program focusing on aesthetics and media. What is so great about Bia's scenario is that it is closely linked to the course plan. It is for exemple a course requirement to allow students to work in virtual communities.
The lecture series was successful and they will keep the wiki for other lessons in the future. "I've never worked like this before. Students and teachers work together towards a common goal and edit each other's pages. Although the wiki is built together, it is still possible to see what is made by each student when it is going to be assessed." It is interesting to note that others besides media teachers are interested. For example, Wikipedia can be a good starting point for a social science teacher. I was invited by Bia to "talk about Wikipedia from a 'sociological' perspective (kind of democracy, gender, etc.) [[...]] bring some thoughts."
Everything was of course not a bed of roses: "The challenge that I see directly is to get the less motivated students to develop themselves further: It is easy to start a wiki page but not to improve those already started ...' It might be about confidence. It is about being able to commend and get them to develop themselves through strength calls. They may need help to find information, how they can learn things, and show that it need not to be so fancy. "
Overall Bia thought that "Useful things came up during the course. It felt so all the way." Bia will hold lessons where she and her students use a wiki again, and also, more specifically, use Wikimedia Commons. "The other day a student needed music for a film. I referred to Wikimedia Commons which I would never have done before."
Jörgen Qvartsenklint is the project leader at Glokala Folkhögskolan. There he works with flexible learning locally and nationally, as well as IT coordinator. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jörgen is already a very experienced wiki user and initiator of Folkbildningsnätets Wikifarm (Folkbildningsnätet is administrated by The Swedish National Council of Adult Education) but still learnt some technical stuff valuable to him, such as how to generate templates with lists of all users.
Moreover: "I took the ccourses in order to find more opportunities for collaboration. How do you encourage people to contribute, how to get people to start? I wanted to meet others for input." He thought that "the meetings between the participants were good, people got inspired and developed ideas together, everyone had their own personal ideas, it became meetings based on participants' own experiences. It was good that the process lasted for two days, so that one could land and get feedback."
Learnings from the course will be handy when Glokala Folkhögskolan (Jörgen's workplace) is to start a wiki for their projects in the fall. "Project progress communicated in internal meetings need to be documented, communicated and disseminated". We have divided the activities into tracks / thoughts around organizational development that we will put into the wiki. Many people sit now and take notes on oh so many different sites, it becomes so widespread with Google Docs and mailboxes. We plan to start the wiki and make an effort this fall. We also consider maybe to publish a course in citizen journalism on Wikiversity to get more feedback and further development by new people. "
The challenge is to get people to participate. As initiator of a wiki, one need to be "stubborn but not in a nagging way, encourage, find openings, needs, moments ..."
Nils Olov Ahlgren, participant in Skellefteå: Nils teaches Swedish as a second language for newly arrived immigrants. In addition, he calls himself IT demagogue trying to spread the good word. Wiki is one of those words. Contact: email@example.com
Nils thinks that the course has made him more familiar with Wikipedia and editing wikis. He can now more about markup language and linking. He has also gained a deeper insight in how to spread information and how to use a wiki. The prime he brings with him is an understanding of how to use wikis in education.
Nils plans to start a wiki during the summer, first on his own site (which is easier than through the municipality and its IT department). The purpose of the wiki is to provide an additional dimension to the learning of the Swedish language. The wiki will work as a wordlist which is illustrated and explained by photos, illustrations, animations and videos. The wordlist is going to be built up by both teachers and students and hopefully different groups of students are going to contribute over a longer period with visual explanations to both concrete and abstract words.
Challenges Nils can see are that the studengroup between 16-20 years old will be beginners on both Swedish and wiki. But similar challenges have been overcame earlier where beginners learned Swedish while they also learned to script, record and edit film. He hopes and believes that students who are more advanced in their language can go to the wiki to help and teach new students.
Susanne Antell, teacher educator at Dalarna University who participated in the course in Helsingborg, will continue to work with and use her scenario Human's Anatomy and Physiology at the DU-wiki this fall. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susanne thought it was very good that we raised the issue of free licenses (Wikipedia's third pillar): "There is material which is produced at universities but owned by companies and which is not published freely. Copyright may hinder. If instead we could have a generous attitude we can achieve so much more. However, we must have a dialogue with the students about what they think is ok to pass on. It is an ethical question. How we relate to the material is a question of democracy and might require a change of attitude. Is it mine and yours or ours? The world might be ripe for change. "
After the Wikiskills course, Susanne has presented wikis to 10 of her colleagues. "All were inspired with the idea and we'll go further." This fall Susanne will hold a teaching session in a course aimed at teacher students. Susanne along with a teacher colleague, have decided to use a wiki: The course aims to get students to be active in working with Internet based educational resources. "We have distance students who then will continually be active on the wiki that will be available throughout the semester.We will tell the students that we are beginners. It can take twists and turns that are not anticipated, but it may well be fun!"
Other initiatives planned by the students: a course on Wikipedia aimed at companies, a study circle on Wikipedia, a course on digital media (including Wikipedia) for union representatives, a course in digital creation in the the folk high school where the collaboration platform may be a wiki, information on Wikipedia targeting for older internet users and visitors of SeniorNet's internet cafés etc.