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Chrissy’s Proposal #2: Wiki Rewrite Classical Texts Project

Problem Statement

When teaching Classical Sociological Theory, the texts, for many, put off students right off the bat by the language the theorists use.  Often this is the biggest hurdle for students—they think they cannot understand the work.  Theory already come with this stigma attached to it that makes students think that it is above their heads, when (at least the way I teach it) it’s actually fairly simple ideas anyone of them can understand.  I would like to create a wiki space for my students to use to rewrite the texts into their own words with contemporary examples.


Tech-savy Tommy: Tommy isn’t particularly fluent in Classical Theory but he has used wikis in classes before.  He has all of the technical skills down, but doesn’t fully understand how to collaborate yet. He thinks that he will be fine in the course because of how much the wiki project is emphasized and how good his tech skills are generally.

Luddite Lucy: Lucy is an older student who takes school very seriously. She is comfortable participating in class discussion and talking with her classmates after school.  However, because of the generation gap she is conscious that she might lag when it comes to the tech skills.  She has heard the instructor say that they will do tutorials and that it is not that complicated, but she is still nervous.  She even considered dropping the course to one that didn’t require technology.  She stayed because no other section fit her schedule.

Capitalist Carlton: Carlton thinks Marx is a joke.  His dad works on Wall Street and is good friends with Bill O’Reilly.  Carlton is used to participating in a certain rhetoric that he hears at home.  If he had to re-write Marx he’d re-write the theory to support Capitalism.

Faculty Farrah: Farrah is excited to try to have her students collaborate and to have more ownership over the material, especially by literally putting it in their own words.  She has some tech skills but is a little nervous about what might happen if she has to trouble shoot.

Use Case Scenario

Tech-savy Tommy: Tommy would initially feel confident logging in and getting started.  If he is using the full version, he could utilize buddypress to share his skills.  Using buddypress might also have him form more of a sense of community, which might get him to start collaborating earlier and easier.

Luddite Lucy: Lucy apprehensively logs in for the first time and realizes that it actually is pretty intuitive.  She struggles finding the right buttons at first but once she firms up her skills on how to get to the wiki, she doesn’t have a problem using it.  For Lucy the issue is not using the technology but navigating between the blog, buddy press, and the wiki—she has trouble understanding why everything is in a different place because she doesn’t fully understand the logic behind the site.

Capitalist Carlton: Carlton adjusts fine to the technology, but has a problem with the material.  He doesn’t like that even the ‘conservative’ sociologists would like to move away from capitalism.  He tries to undermine Faculty Farrah by rewriting the radical out of Marx.  He also doesn’t support the idea of collaboration and says that Wikipedia is written by a bunch of hippies who should get a job; this makes collaboration is difficult.  Students are apprehensive about changing Carlton’s work because of his aggressive presence in class and online.

Faculty Farrah: She sets up the site and tries to hang back.  The students seem to be helping each other out when one is struggling which makes her feel good.  She has the choice to look at the history to see if she wants to grade using that method, but instead chooses to give the same grade to everyone because she can see on the social networking aspect of the site as well as in class discussion that everyone is interested and participating.  However, she is still struggling with how to assess Carlton’s contributions.

Full Version

In the full version I would buy and set WordPress up on a server.  I would need use a wiki plugin as well as buddypress so that students could have a social network on the site and not have to go to email to communicate with each other.  It would also be connected to the main class blog.

Full Time Line

Setting wordpress up on a server and adding plugins might take a little bit of time to figure out—about one semesters worth of preparation.  I would also have to redesign my syllabus to fit this project in.

Reduced Version

In the reduced version I would use Wikispaces or moodle.

Reduced Time Line

I could implement this next semester in a basic version.  It only takes a little bit of familiarizing myself with the sites.  The way the assignment will be graded and the portion of the grade as well as the timeline throughout the semester would also have to be decided before implementing


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One Response

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  1. Christina says

    What I got out of talking about this in class was that I should:

    Consider how I am going to articulate how they should use the discussion area and the final page differently.
    I should check out Boone’s buddypress plugins. Or think of using scholarpress.
    Kiran’s interactive lab might be helpful as well.
    Can have groups moderate mini-groups.
    I should remember that WordPress is giant swiss army knife – not a panacea—and to check out my other options. For example, floss manuals (put out booki) has a collaborative authoring program and a wiki interface for collaboratively translating.
    Maybe I should have a wiki based course page, and no wordpress site. One issue with that would be what to do with their re-writes once they are done? Does that justify having the blog? So they can post it on there? Or should the final wiki page be where the translation lives.

    I am going to post this proposal on my students’ blog to see what kind of comments they have.

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