Tag Archives: fedwiki

Federated Wiki-prise: Boldly Going Where Just a Few Have Gone Before

To Boldly Go…

Yes, we Federated Wiki folks are at it again.

I’ve written about Mike Caulfield and Ward Cunningham efforts with the Wiki of the future, and now Mike is at it again.

The Federated Wiki is this wonderful hard-to-explain place where you can think and write and sythensize the thoughts and writings of others as well. As Mike has said, “It’s hard to learn and easy to use” (or something like that).  I have described it like learning to ride a bike. At first, riding a bicycle seems terribly complicated with all the balancing, peddling, steering, and keeping your eye on the road all at the same time, and then all of a sudden





and then it is wonderfully easy. And freeing.  And you can go anywhere you want with little effort.

That’s the Federated Wiki. (Fedwiki, for short).

But we in academia are an inpatient lot (and, too often, rather busy).  We want to be able to ride that bike after the first try. And if we can’t, we move on to simpler, more intuitive rides. So Mike is working on a way to make the Fedwiki a bit easier to ride by helping the Fedwiki collaborate technologically with a platform with which academia is a bit more familiar — WordPress. There’s a bunch of technical coding magic that must happen first, but in the mean time, he’s put a call out for WordPress pages to be written in a Fedwiki format to give him a sandbox of sorts to play with – a proof of concept, if you will.

I meekly signed on (hiding out in the comments section of Mike’s post).

Comment screenshot saying I'd participate

Alyson Indrunas threw down a prolific challenge, and the old CogDog himself answered the call as well. I’m sure more will be along. It will be interesting to see what develops in this experiment as we answer Mike’s call to:

Write for reuse in this space. What you post should be easy for others to reuse on their site with modifications. So no posts trying to prove a personal point or narratives that wouldn’t make sense out of someone else’s mouth. You are contributing words to your wiki that someone else can use with minimal modification.

So my Federated Library Project (FLiP) posts will explore strange new topics, seek out new writers to read, and write new posts like a Culture of Caring and the Shadow IT.

I can’t wait to see where the Wiki-prise goes next.

vulcan salute

By David Fuchs (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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Utopia College and the Binary


After noticing the use of the binary argument at so many recent conferences and chatting about it with Mike Caulfied and Alyson Indrunas, I actually then dared, half in jest, to throw out the word “utopia” at NWeLearn’s ending panel discussion. I was only using it half in jest…so I think it is important to clarify how that word is being used, so as to not paint everyone with the same rainbow-and-unicorn-utopian colored brush.

There are those who judge the ideas being offered  by others as utopian. Mike Caulfield describes this experience at #dLrn15 in his recent blog post:

“I think it’s utopian,” they said, “You’re not going to eliminate all online nastiness with a different software format.”

I looked over my presentation to try to find the spot where we reached the Age of Aquarius via some Node server installs. I saw a lot of places where I said we could be doing much better, but couldn’t find the places where we cured all ills.”

Then there are those, like me in my flippant utopian comment during the panel session, trying to make a distinction about the places (physical and mindset) from which some of those ideas are being generated as utopian or, perhaps, elitest (choose your adjective).

When the term higher education gets defined by the likes of a Harvard, MIT, or Stanford, it rarely, if ever, resembles the higher education with which I am familiar and go to work in every day at a rural open door community college in eastern Washington State. The perch from where the monied (and even not-so-monied) four-year, selective entrance schools view issues in higher ed (from the plight of the adjunct to available technology to the abilities of the students in the classrooms) is covered in assumptions that my students are just like theirs, that they enter college being able to read and write at a collegiate level, that they have devices to bring to campus for BYOD initiatives, that they have time to spare between their jobs and their families to attend full time, and the list goes on.

It’s great that we have the likes of Mike Caulfield or Jesse Stommel, who deliver aspirational ideas to address some of the ills of higher ed, and push the boundaries “so far out of the mainstream of practice you have to squint to see them.”  Their ideas, however, start from the mainstream. The Everycollege. And then ask us to push our own boundaries. There isn’t an assumption of privilege to the Federated Wiki or of the Ivy League to rethink a gradebook.

The community college is ground zero of higher education. The canary in the higher education coal mine. No matter the metaphor, until the definition of higher education expands to be inclusive all of us when looking for solutions, the utopia term may still be needed.  Not for those including us in their boundary-pushing discussions like Jesse and Mike, but for those who teach in Utopia College and don’t even realize community colleges are a part of the conversation.


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In Defense of *gasp* Facebook

Now stop. Stop right there. I know what you’re going to say.

“Facebook? Really? Corporate-sellout-advertisement-blitzing-privacy-invading-newsfeed-tweaking-Facebook? You’re defending it?????”

Oh. The horror.

Bombs blowing up new york

Okay, so not end of the world, maybe?

Here’s the deal. I have no great love or hate for Facebook.  It is what it is. A free, stable social media site that is available on every platform, with a complicated set of privacy settings it keeps trying to simplify.

Buyer beware.

As my friend Jane Bozarth says, “If you don’t like it, ask for your money back.”

For those who didn’t (or haven’t yet) raised college age kids in the mid 2000’s forward, you’re forgiven for not understanding. But when the darlin’s leave for school and they stop calling (or answering your calls) because they are too busy, sometimes the only way to keep in touch or have a conversation with them is to exchange a text or read a post on Facebook.

When my son’s college degree was interrupted by a deployment to Iraq in 2007, Facebook kept me reassured of his relative safety, and that he was finding a way to use humor to cope with the stresses of war (which helped me cope with the stresses of being a soldier’s mom).

soldier in front of broken truck with sign that reads I can fix it

And last summer, when I went to my 30th high school reunion, I spent the weekend with contemporary friends rather than strangers who I once knew 30 years ago.  The experience was so much richer because we had current shared experiences as well as past ones – even though the current ones had been virtual.  (And where a funny image from 1984 – top photo –  could then become the running joke and gold standard by 2014 – bottom photo).

Everyone turned facing backward in bottom photo

What does all of this have to do with this blog’s blatherings about teaching, learning, and higher ed?


When I participate in awesome open learning experiences like Mike Caulfield‘s  Fedwiki Happening or stumble into the new-to-me world of Rhizomatic learning that is Dave Cormier‘s  #Rhizo15, I do so because I have interest not-so-much in the openness of the learning, but in the connectedness of the learning experience (and it’s rather difficult to have the one without the other).

 I am challenged by the research being done and shared by the big R1 schools, and “the University Of’s” , and the Ivy Leaguers, and the international schools through these open learning opportunities. The Big Schools have big staffs and big budgets to implement big thoughts.  I enjoy the experience of connecting with these big thinkers, the creative thinkers, and the outlandish thinkers all.

I, however, work in a small community college in a forgotten part of the southeast corner of Washington State.  We don’t do research. And we aren’t selective. Every 10 weeks, we educate anyone who walks through the door, which means we offer a lot of developmental math and English, ESL, ABE, I-BEST, and the rest of the alphabet soup of programs meant to take people from where they are and get them to a decent paying job or on their way to a four year school.

So this is where I fork Amy Collier‘s Not-yetness and suggest that perhaps we need to make room for a bit of a continuum of emergence. The ideas of not-yetness at an MIT or Standford are so far beyond the realm of my little community college that they would intimidate or even shut down emerging technology discussion for all but a few of the most technologically-edgy of faculty at my school.

But Facebook, good ol’ Facebook, almost the grandpa of social media now, is a kind of “not-yetness” on my campus. (Not to mention it has a nearly flat-line learning curve which is important for a 10 week quarter). The idea of opening a class to social media of any kind is not-yetness here. The use of Facebook groups is not-yetness here. The connectedness of letting outsiders participate with students in a class via Facebook is very not-yetness here.

It’s learning.

It’s connecting.

It’s kind of messy.

And it’s definitely not-yetness. Here. On my end of the continuum.

Note: In Cormier’s opening post to #Rhizo15 he states, “FacebookI have so many mixed feelings about Facebook… but i do know that it totally works for some people. The course group for #rhizo15 is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1516869091918393/

It’s okay, Dave. The posts are flying in the RhizoFbGroup. And so far, it’s the only place I’ve connected with #Rhizo15. It seems Rhizo’s not-yetness in Facebook is just about now.


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Arthur C Clarke, Kate Middleton’s Wedding Dress, and the #fedwiki, Oh My!

Mike Caulfield (@holden)

Mike Caulfield (@holden)

If you’ve been intrigued by my posts regarding the #fedwiki or perhaps seen Twitter hashtagged tweets in your feed and wondered “What the heck?“, this really great keynote address delivered by Mike Caulfield to the Northwest Academic Computing Consortium’s (NWACC) Instructional Technology Roundtable last November lays it out very nicely. (And who can’t resist a keynote where Arthur C. Clarke, GPS, and Kate Middleton’s wedding dress are all three mentioned, and even better, effectively tied together to make a powerful point)?

We’re stuck in an attention economy feedback loop where we react to the reactions of reactions (while fearing further reactions), and then we wonder why we’re stuck with groupthink and ideological gridlock.

We’re bigger than this and we can envision new systems that acknowledge that bigness.

I think you’ll really enjoy this talk: Federated Education: New Directions in Digital Collaboration

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#Fedwiki is EASyR than you Think

For the learner, Ward Cunningham‘s Federated Wiki is at once curation, collaboration, and synthesis.  It’s old school HyperCard mashing up with wiki-anyone-can-edit-this philosophy, plus a little 1990s Wild West of the Internet thrown in.  It’s easy and it’s hard at the same time because you have to think in page origins and iterations, not sites and links as we’ve become accustomed to them in the standardized web of 2015.  While it may not yet be ready for prime time, I can already see its potential.

(If you want to see its potential, Mike Caufield’s post from today does a great job illustrating the concept).

It got me thinking about the fundamentals of teaching and learning again. Not what instructor to hire or what our FTE count is this quarter, but honest-to-goodness teaching and learning concepts. Wow. (True confession: Had to dust some mental cobwebs out of the way).

In the good old days (pre-administrative appointment) my conference presentations were always faculty-oriented and teaching-related. One area I liked to present on was how to create activities that used critical thinking in online classes.  It’s a course and assignment design skill that faculty desperately needed – they created way too many “read and quiz” courses.   (It’s still a problem, btw).  In the online course, faculty often lacked the instructional design skills or time to move beyond using the basic quiz or test tool – uploading a PowerPoint or lecture capture video with a discussion was considered the height of engagement.  (To be honest, some faculty I worked with didn’t do anything more engaging in their  face to face classes either).

To help combat this problem, my friend and colleague, Dr. Kay Lehmann, and I developed a lesson planning guide (complete with acronym) to help faculty move from quizzing/testing as a final product to something based more on higher order thinking skills rather than just identification and recall.  We called our model EASyR…as in “the EASyR way to teach critical thinking”.   We basically  challenged  Bloom’s taxonomy – at least the way it was always laid out in K12 teacher’s pre-service programs — by flipping the order of the higher level concepts and changing and redefining the terms a bit…(though our idea aligned more closed with Anderson and Krathwol’s post-Bloom revision of the taxonomy).  Go big or go home, right?

We’ve refined it a bit since its origins, but in a nutshell, EASyR means:

  • E – explore – explore existing thought and concepts – see what all is available.  (Think of this as the initial Google search results – the whole list)
  • A – analyze – activities that help students differentiate between the relevant and the not-so relevant results of the exploration.
  • Sy – Synthesize – the process of taking the relevant results and the students own ideas,.and putting them together to create something new (at least new to the student).
  • R – Review, Revise, Reflect – These final steps are the most critical to higher level thinking and the ones we all but eliminate in our rush to prep for the next test.

So as I learn about the Federated Wiki, I can’t help but see how it fits perfectly in this process that I’ve been talking with faculty about for years.  The ease with which students can curate web content by dragging sites onto their own wiki pages makes exploration technically easy.  Being able to move the smallest paragraphs around, fork them to different pages, add video and images then share those pages with other students who can challenge or extend allows for deep analysis.  Because each learner creates the connections as they see them – their site is their synthesis – and the sky’s the limit for what products could result.  Finally, the revision lives in each page’s journal – reflection can be in commentary left on a page or in summary linked from the Welcome page.

I’m really looking forward to the Thinking Machine Happening with Audrey Watters in March.  The whole experience will, I suspect, confirm what I’m thinking as we explore what information is available, analyze it, and pull it into our own sites to become something we each take ownership of.  My reflections to follow…

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