The Weekly Wiki Discussions


Professor Martin Irvine

Using a Wiki for Weekly Seminar Discussions

This Seminar Wiki combines the functions of a student's weekly journal and a shared discussion forum. The shared wiki article format provides a common space for all members of the seminar to reflect on readings and key concepts, ask questions, try out ideas, and find interesting examples for seminar topics.

The Wiki architecture allows us to present ideas in the way we actually think today: we're familiar with everything being interconnected, and we can think about ideas or specific cases as being nodes in networks of other information, concepts, and arguments.

The Weekly Assignment
For weekly discussion, in at least 2-3 substantial paragraphs, use your Wiki entry to reflect on the readings or examples being studied that week, but without summary or "coverage" (assume we're all reading the same things, so no need to summarize).

Use examples that allow you to apply the ideas of the seminar and other references you would like to add. Provide acknowledgment of sources and references you discuss (references for all links or quoted material). You can use embedded images, embedded video and other web content, links to videos, whatever sources you find relevant.

Ask questions, critique the key theories or assumptions in the readings, and introduce additional examples for the seminar to think about. There's no specific "correct" way to write your weekly discussion: be informal, try on ideas, keep a running journal of your thoughts for the seminar, connect your thoughts to the seminar readings and other information you can bring to the discussion.

Sign your name at the bottom of your Wiki comments, then add a horizontal line (see button at top of editing bar) to separate your comments fro the next. You can always go back and edit your comments and respond to other students' ideas

The Seminar Group Presentation

For your group presentations (if assigned), use the Wiki space for the week to present your thoughts from your small-group or duo discussion on the key arguments, concepts, questions, or problems in the week's unit of readings and sources. Plan on limiting your presentation to around 15 minutes of class time. Edit your discussion points at the top of the wiki article page, and add your own examples and cases for interpretation and analysis. Do not summarize or "cover" the readings and references of the week, but propose what you find to be the main "take aways" and questions you may have about understanding and interpreting the issues. You can write up a set of summary discussion points with examples and references, rather than discursive paragraphs, or a combination of the two. If you find problems and questions from a critique of the assumptions and arguments in the readings, present them for discussion for the whole seminar. In the spirit of the methodology of the seminar for working with theory, see what emerges from discovery (using the concepts, terms, and arguments as heuristic tools to discover new approaches to things), self-reflexive critique (what issues, problems, or contradictions emerge when critiquing the theories from within), and extensibility (do you see applications of the theory or concepts to other areas or subject matter beyond the domain(s) in which they were developed?).

Practical Tips

Writing and saving your work:
Write your comments in a Word doc, a Google doc, or other text editor first, and save them. Copy and paste your text into the Wiki edit window and save it in the Wiki. You can then go back and add images, video, sound clips, whatever is interesting for you. Remember to provide references and links to sources you use. Sign your weekly discussions.

Editing while other students are editing the Wiki page:
You need to save your content in the Wiki edit window often; when you get an edit error message because someone else is editing the same page, save your work and then go back and reload the page.