Remiss on Conference Coverage

Ouch, trying to cover a full day’s EDUCAUSE ELI activity in one blog and I made a glaring omission. Steve and his students Liz and Dean did a 5 star presentation on using wikis to empower student learning — I think EDUCAUSE needs to encourage much, much more of having students participate or lead in doing these sessions. It changes the whole dynamic to hear the student perspective first-hand, and having spent some time with both of these students during evening outings, I’m impressed with what they have to say and what they do.

These economics students engaged in a semester long communication exchange using wikis, and in a self-organizing, open approach. The presentation was also constructed in a wiki collaboratively between Steve and his two students, and Liz and Dean constructed their own analysis of the experience. Sections include:

* Most learning occurs where?
* How Have Instructors Traditionally Structured Out of Class Learning?
* None of us knows more than all of us
* What are wikis supposed to be good at?
* How well did our wiki do these things?
* How could it have been improved?

Under the radar, the URl of the wiki used for this project underlies the interesting story where motivated faculty and staff at the University of Mary Washington or doing experimental technology development by hosting blogs, wikis, and other 2.0ware on external web hosts. I’m intrigued by this, is it a movement? It’s not really a “bad” thing as more often than not, there are not institutional support for sandbox-ing.

Another ELI ultra-highlight, keep on sand-boxing it at UMW!

If this kind of stuff has any value, please support me monthly on Patreon or a one time PayPal kibble toss
Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Alan, your comments (and Bryan, Brian and Gardner’s) are invaluable. But it would be nice if these presentation were more built in wiki/flickr where physical participants and e-readers could post and learn together. Having said that I need to find time to drop in to you flickrtation and the wiki created by Dean and his students. Our semester has just started and I’m tied up with a lot of teaching (of GTAs and then PhD’s aspiring to an academic career) for the next week or so. Chinese New Year hols went in a flash!

  2. Alan:

    Thanks for your kind words. You homed right in on the strength of our presentation which was the students’ reflections. Imagine if faculty made a habit of asking students for feedback, instead of presuming what they think and what’s best for them. Nevermind–That would never work.

    Let me address your substantive question. I’m not entirely sure why we went offsite. Gardner can give you a better answer. Frankly, as an instructor I didn’t care about where the infrastructure was located. At the same time, though, I’ve found it useful to have the server somewhere other than on campus–when the university server is down I can still work on the wiki or blog, and the likelihood of both servers being off-line is close to nil.

  3. Steve- I am glad to hear your opinion on the “location” not mattering. I get a mixed sense of whether it is important or not that the URL is associated with an institution (I am sure there are plenty of strong opinions on this).

    I think it hardly matters to student what the URl looks like.

    But you are doing what I just love to see, forging ahead, experimenting, trying new approaches with students, and dealing with the logisitcs and “official” policies as they come.

  4. We went offsite because:

    1. We had no LAMP environment available to us outside the Computer Science department. Nothing against Ernie and his colleagues, but I wanted a place that was not identified with any one program or department on campus other than ours. Even then, I bought domains/web space for each of the ITSs here and at first asked them all to use their own names as domain names. The idea was to have the ITSs be seen as gateways to wonder instead of “digital janitors.”

    2. Offsite is cheap, cheap, cheap. A little over a hundred bucks a year and we get (now) 10GB storage, 250GB bandwidth, yadda yadda.

    3. I don’t have to agitate for a server admin. The hosting services does that.

    4. Cpanel and Fantastico make it dead easy to experiment with everything from cron jobs to WordPress to Typo3 and Coppermine and beyond.

    5. I don’t have to kiss anyone’s ring.

    There’s a lot more to say on this subject. Our “Bluehost Expedition” (formerly “Bluehost Experiment”) has been utterly fantastic. We’re working on an article (wikified) describing it.

Comments are closed.