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Wiki: Skeptic Turned Supporter!

While reading through my student’s Wiki time logs and checking their contributions thus far (spring break was a partial deadline), I came across a comment I had not expected!

This was actually kind of fun and very helpful! Can’t wait to see next quarter’s Wiki!

This same student was very skeptical just three months ago! At that time, she felt like it was the “blind leading the blind” and seemed unsure how to contribute to the Wiki.

Likely because of the spring break deadline, the site has improved greatly even since I posted a couple weeks ago (check out a history page to see how it evolves). There is still much that can be done to improve it – but eventually I think it has the potential to approach the breadth and quality of a professional site.

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Honors Physics Wiki Update

My students have started constructing their Honors Physics Wiki. Right now the site is quite raw. We are almost exclusively creating content, mostly text-based. There are some errors on the site and it’s not polished yet. I’m itching to correct the errors, but I’m holding back because I think peer revision is an important part of the process.

Our first peer-comment was posted a few days ago! I’m hoping that as more and more of the obvious content appears on the site, students will begin to shift some of their attention to multimedia creation, revision, organization, and refinement. I’m excited to see where this site goes!

A couple example pages:  Relativity, Dimensional Analysis & Right Triangle Trigonometry.

Student Created Wiki’s

I was looking into student created Wiki’s and found this article from a middle school math teacher helpful!

Media Fluency: AP Physics Wiki!

Application: AP Physics Wiki

I must admit I that I probably wouldn’t have tried this Wiki project if I weren’t a member of this committee. Although I’m not convinced AP scores are the best way to measure progress, it’s undeniable that they have practical importance. I already expect a great deal from my AP students and was hesitant to add on an “extra.” Especially since I didn’t see an obvious connection between the Wiki and the AP test.

After some unsuccessful brainstorming/browsing I decided use the Wiki project despite my reservations. Since the AP physics curriculum is so broad, I thought it best to use the Wiki as a review tool where each student would write an article on one of our major topics in first semester. I “stole” this idea from one of my graduate classes over the summer where we wrote a Wiki (I created most of the pages on “State of Classical Science in 1900!”)

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcomes from the Wiki project. Where I had expected students would complain when I announced the assignment, several students actually said they liked the idea (in hindsight: I think it was a nice change of pace-we don’t do a lot of writing in AP physics). Since other people could read their work it felt more real to them. They also said that summarizing/explaining major ideas helped them solidify their understanding of the challenging material that we had moved through at whirlwind speed. What had started as an “extra” had become a sustentative activity that very well might help them on the AP test.

As you can see if you check out our Wiki (please do!), the site itself is nothing fancy. Based on this unexpected success though, it’s a work in progress.

The Big Picture

When I first learned of Wiki’s in my grad school class I was impressed by the technology. However, I was more impressed by my professor. He knew what the technology was capable of and had an idea for it’s use, but he didn’t have any clue of how to edit/create pages or accomplish other technical tasks in Wikispaces. It was up to us to figure out (it is surprisingly easy to learn). Talk about really jumping into something.

Wiki’s are great because they can be written for any subject or topic. A small Wiki like we created doesn’t require any big commitments. For those interested, there is potential to create a huge interconnected web of ideas through Wiki’s.

Second semester I’m going to add a Wiki component to my freshmen physics class too. I’m planning on leaving it wide open: students will be able to write articles and add pages & physics content relevant to anything we learn. Students will have the whole semester and I will make a general rubric for assessment (you can see which members edited which pages). Finally, I’m tossing around the idea of having new physics classes build/improve/revise one constantly evolving freshmen physics Wiki. I think it will either be really successful or a complete failure. Either way it should be interesting and I will let you know how it goes (:

Media Fluency Definition

According to the 21st century fluencies blog media fluency is:

“Firstly, the ability to look analytically at any communication media to interpret the real message, how the chosen media is being used to shape thinking, and evaluate the efficacy of the message. Secondly, to create and publish original digital products”

In my own words, I think of media fluency as the natural extension of rhetoric and composition into the digital age. We need to be able to communicate electronically just as clearly, efficiently, and elegantly as we do verbally or on paper. Just as important, we must be able to see beyond the surface to evaluate the purpose, strategy, and effectiveness of other digital communications.