Wiki Waky Woo on Bourbon Street

I’m a lucky, dirty dog.

The fabulous city of New Orleans (think Montreal crossed with Sodom and Gomorrah — but with way better food and music) for this year’s NLII Annual Meeting.

I just gave my presentation — a fairly standard wiki overview, at least intended as one — which was elevated by a tremendous room. A clear majority raised their hands when asked if they had worked with wikis before. I had barely gotten through my introductory spiel when the comments and questions started flying…

Some of the questions were the ones that always get asked. Like, “how can we trust what’s on a wiki?” Which is deceptively tricky — epistemologists were bashing around variations on that one for a long time before wikis happened. One attendee asked if I was concerned about student plagiarism… I replied that I was, which prompted a follow-up observation that I was inconsistent, given my previous assertions on the nature of open space composition. To which I could only shrug, and agree. It was no great rhetorical defeat — I could spend days on end cataloguing things I believe or care about that contradict one another.

Which might be a worthwhile exercise now that I think about it.

Most of the audience input was outstanding… with a particularly great stretch that developed out of the contrast between discussion boards and wikis.

I was lucky enough to have a couple ringers in the crowd — I’d met Steve Greenlaw the night before, and he did a fine job of explaining how his course wiki is supporting a co-constructed seminar research process. And I was able to call on Gardner Campbell to briefly outline his thinking on the implicit philosophical framework of Wikipedia

So my challenge was less to present than to ride the wave, and give the many people who wanted to speak the space to do so without the whole thing going off the rails. It was a fun problem to have — it reminded me of the days I enjoyed most as a classroom teacher — and the end result was certainly more interesting than it would have been had I talked nonstop through the session.

I’ve seen a couple other good presentations so far — an illuminating student panel, and I’m blogging through this ECAR overview of a study on student attitudes to teaching and technology that will be worth looking at — but as usual the real action happens outside the event itself. So far the most compelling recurring conversational theme seems to have something to do with the power of emotionally connecting with intellectual work — or to put it more honestly having the courage and ability to fall in love with an idea. But I’m still processing that.

And damn, I’m still working on a weblog post about last year’s NLII meeting. Bad, crazy, dirty dog.

Lucky dog.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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