I think Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes presentation gives an insight into how a community can work well. She is a teacher and researcher with a lot of experience in how to teach and educate. I was interested to listen to her webinar. She gives an idea about the seven principles of blended & online learning. I stuck into the first principle “Design for open communication and trust”. I meet most teachers in my daily work and still I see a traditional thinking in a LMS-platform. It´s a lot of materials and files that will be open in different programs, a lot of click. But how do you really design for an open communication and trust. How does it feels to enter the digital class room. Do I feel comfortable? Do I have someone to talk to or am I alone? How is the room furnished, can I take a seat and read, listen or converse?
For a couple of year now, I have been involved into a Wikipedia project within Faculty of Natural Sciences at Linnaeus University. Together with two teachers we developed a concept where the students should write about a parasite. The student can choose a parasite that have not been written about on Wikipedia or develop an existing Wikipedia article that have just a few sentences. It´s over six years since we started and until now the students have produced over 50 Wikipedia articles. The student has written articles in Swedish, English, German. Spanish and Chinese.
The goal with the Wikipedia project is to let the students exercise and train their abilities to search, digest and present scientific information regarding animal and human pathogens and diseases. Instead of writing a report that is only shared with your teacher and fellow students we wanted to effort the students to contribute to the combined shared knowledge in an open-access net-based encyclopedia – in this case Wikipedia.
One of the courses have both campus and distant students so it was a challenge for us to also get the distant students involved. We always take it for grant that they should fix it some way. When we started we saw that we had to offer them some software when they work together. The best to use during that time was Google docs. It also gave the opportunity to invite their tutor. Before they put their text in Wikipedia they had to be approved by the tutor. I think this Wikipedia project gave an opportunity to share what you have done at the University for a major audience.
We use Wikipedia as an educational tool, where students learning efforts would result in improved texts on pathogens and diseases.
I don´t say it was easy to let them be a part of Wikipedia, but when they saw their own articles and received direct respond from others they were proud. Some of the articles the students wrote also received a star for a new article or expanded article.