moinX and others

MoinMoin has released moinX, a MoinMoin wiki for OS X that runs easily on a local machine, or can be put on the Net. Because it runs with its own server (Twisted), it doesn’t need Apache and is easy to configure. I had it up and running in less than a minute on a Mac PowerBook. MoinMoin has some nice features for writing and for teaching writing.

Some reviews: MoinMoin has a WikiEngineComparison chart that links to other considerations and reviews, including one by thinking space.

authentic engagement at the best prices

This article Authentic Engagement of Adult Learners in Online Learning, could open up some interesting discussions in TWWT. It touches on the need for (and how to provide) human, social contact ih DE, and how to set up authentic, academic engagement, and why. For this, the article is worth a look.

But one of the more interesting points is this conception of studentdom on which much of their concluding discussion rests

Twigg (1998) joins a chorus of observers claiming that ultimate victory in education’s intensifying competition for students will depend on the relative quality of teaching and instructional design, irrespective of delivery mode. She describes a universe where learners have increasing options to choose the learning experiences that suit their needs. In such a world, Twigg suggests, only the best learning experiences offered at attractive prices will survive sharp market competition. Ely (1996) declares that the adoption of distance education should be driven by carefully assessed educational needs…

“The best learning experiences … at attractive prices” suggests just how far “authentic engagement” can slip. Discuss.

what’s a wiki for

A quick link and comment on Matt’s Embrace the Wiki Way! I’m with Matt on most of this – (public) wikis are open to collaboration, so if you don’t need collab, if you simply want to re-create paper, use something else.

But I’d expand the appropriate use of a wiki to include process and a kind of rhetorical quickening. As a minimum, the student who is writing the essay can use the wiki profitably to garner collaborative feedback – better than file exchange, better than a blog, better that BBored. That the student is writing the essay on a wiki provides opportunities for going futher – into the collaborative – that these other means don’t provide. That is, the wiki quickens the rhetorical situation, points students and teachers towards the wiki way.

I’d argue that a classroom wiki open to the students to create and re-create both the class and their own work engages the wiki way in ways that other media do not readily support.

We have a presentation to give at Standford this May, don’t we?

make academic blogging mainstream

I’ve spent the morning reading blog articles on and perusing academic blogs as assigned by Berne, Jamie, and Hans. The highlight for me is Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom Charles Lowe, who argue that writing in a public space is rhetorically and pedagogically powerful – perhaps more than the (more comfortable) private journal writing and writing in the protected space of the online or face to face classroom.

But reviewing the range of blogs and articles on academic blogging that the Berne, Jamie, and Hans set up for us brought home much we (BSU, BSU English, BSU Comp/Rhet) are missing out. We are slow in getting our blogshit together in a larger, more organized, better supported way – beyond the scattered, isolated use in some classes by a few brave teachers. Our GAs are on the front line with personal/academic blogs of their own, and experimenting with blogs in support of CW I and II. But these are experiments when they could be mainstream, timid moves that could be leaps.

This isn’t a matter of keeping up with the U Warwick, U of M, or Purdue, who have organized ways of offering blogs to students and faculty, so much as squandering opportunities for teaching and learning.

Reminder: Watch for the next round of development grants.

wikis in business

This is easy to forsee: New tools making online work easier

I get a little apprehensive when business interests wrap themselves around open source tools. Business is discovering wikis and blogs, and is getting ready to market what is freely available to the business punters under the rubric of “social media.”

Appropriation is nothing new, and it does end up spreading the wealth broader and further than we’ve done so far.

But I wonder if users of the new social media are really going to find it all that much easier than email exchanges. They are going to run into the same social apprehensiveness we see every semester in working with wikis. Working together is inherently difficult.

rumination on why wiki works and not

IRRODL: Educational Wikis: features and selection criteria
makes this observation

Godwin-Jones (2003) suggests that wikis may be ideal for building communities of practice by creating a collective repository of expertise in a subject area, which is refined over time by the contributions and problem-solving of interested individuals. It is this function that distinguishes communities of practice from other online communities, such as chat groups or bulletin boards.

a reference to this

Blogs can be highly personal, wikis are intensely collaborative. They feature a loosely structured set of pages, linked in multiple ways to each other and to Internet resources and an open-editing system in which anyone can edit any page. […] Such a system only works with users serious about collaborating and willing to follow the group conventions and practices.

Teaching with wikis draws on principles that comp/rhet theory have been teaching for years: the use of collaborative, project-based, guide on the side learning, letting students assert genuine autonomy over the process and product in a genuine writing space. To work, wikis require committment. The payback is expertise in a powerful writing space that can change what and how we work, what we can do with writing.

I suspect that wikis will be valuable in courses that frame themselves in convenience and utility because wiki requires commitment that goes beyond the course itself.

2004 blog postings lost

I’ve given up trying to recover blog postings I made using pmachine (2004 – 5). I extracted them from the mysql database into a text file, but text would have to be concatenated, images replaced, everything reposted… Too much trouble for too little return. The photos of Blue are on .Mac for now. But I’ll move forward rather than trying to step back.

test post

For a moment, all the posts on this blog disappeared. I found them in the mysql database, and they were the only data from the database that wasn’t being placed correctly on the page. All this in Safari – even after restarting Apache. But when I viewed the blog with IE, all was well.

Might have been a php call failure followed by a refusal to purge the browser cache. Or gremlins.