The actual output was the Wiki itself.
Wiki is a much mistrusted and misunderstood technology because of its intrinsic openness – ironic really that we mistrust that which is so open. This brings to the fore the issue of web literacy, which is much overlooked. It also brings Wikipedia into the spotlight and generates some excellent discussion about patterns of research by students, what they think it is, why they do/don’t trust the information there etc. It’s easy to extrapolate this debate into one about the whole of the web.
I also wanted to shake the traditional concepts of students being consumers of writing held in books and websites published by authorities. I wanted to empower students to become the authors in their own specialist areas – e.g. they are all experts in the knowledge of where they live and what it’s really like to exist there. Wiki, in my mind at least, was the natural choice for a project of this type. Wiki’s are potentially highly scalable and community-driven with the potential to have all the social features of a small town or city. There are few rules initially and therefore things are pretty dynamic and need some guidance, teamwork & leadership. Who will provide this? The students will. Alongside the learning outline above in your first question, WikiVille aims to give those students who never get the chance to lead or influence within the usual constraints of every day school life just that opportunity.
WikiVille equals “community” in this case. For large-scale engagement blogs on this occasion don’t quite do it due to their propensity for single-voice activity. Grids for Learning – that’s 20th Century and ‘read only’ web! Bulletin boards are great but again there’s a real sense of ‘been there, done that’ and frankly I
think everyone’s quite bored of them.
I could have done these sessions myself no doubt – but it would have been quite different to the ones that were ultimately brought about through Will’s involvement. Will has extensive experience in teaching journalism & media studies, and consequently he’s a natural at enabling young people to discuss and question the validity, style and so on of written material.
The level of engagement from our schools was also contributable to Will being involved. Would a school feel more compelled to send 3 students and a member of the English Department out on a one day workshop run by the Local Authority (LA), or by a globally-renowned international educationalist from the States? Hmm. Tough one!
Will led the workshops, working directly with the students and teachers.
Using MediaWiki – as used by Wikipedia – installed externally to the LA on a hosted server.
We have a research partner in the University of York – detail is not available regarding methodology at this stage.