First-Timer’s Learning Curve – Whipple

Should wikis be taught in classrooms? The answer is yes. With the shift in information gathering moving from hard copy to technology based, it is important for people to learn how that technology is shifting as well. Most people only know of Wikipedia’s existence and do not realize that they can create their own forum for whatever topic they so choose. If someone is creating a small-scale wiki, they can moderate the edits and turn it into something worthwhile. I think the biggest reason why people do not use wikis as much is because of their lack of knowledge on them.

Personally, I feared the wiki until this class. It was a foreign concept to me and therefore, I didn’t take the time to really explore its capabilities. Through this class, I’ve become more familiar with wiki use but I would like to have a tutorial unit or section each week to have some new aspect explained that I may not have found or explored yet. I think with proper teaching of the wiki, it definitely would become more popular and widespread. The trick is getting people comfortable enough with it to be able to teach it in the classroom. Otherwise, I think wikis in the classroom are a great idea for both teaching and learning aspects.

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GlossaTechnologia – McCorkle

Glossa…whaaat? GlossaTechnologia. McCorkle has written this article to explain a wiki-based project by the name of GlossaTechnologia. Honestly, it sounds like a fancy Wikipedia. The difference in concept lies in that this particular project is aimed at being more of an annotated bibliography and not so much an open forum. This project sounds like something that would need to be run by professionals or experts in each aspect being discussed. There seems to be a lot more to this project than McCorkle intended or realized. He had great intentions and a great concept, but with Wikipedia already available, it makes it difficult to create a successful spin-off.

My biggest concern is the lifetime of this type of project. In order to be reputable and valuable, it would need to have a high number of moderators. The cost just seems overwhelming to me. While I like the idea of GlossaTechnologia, I just can’t seem to agree with the final product being something of value. The idea of it being an annotated bibliography to compile resources is great, but I think it also takes away from an important aspect of research. One of the units when teachers go over research papers in junior high and high school is on how to research effectively and how to know if the sources are reliable. They even teach this in college! The idea of a one-stop shop for all your resource needs seems a little…….lazy. I’m sure many of my classmates will disagree with me, but I disagree with the idea of GlossaTechnologia being a good idea. I think it’s a terrible idea and that it is trying to eliminate an important aspect of learning to do things for yourself. Not to mention, you still aren’t guaranteed reputability.

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Wiki Lore and Politics in the Classroom – Martin & Dusenberry

Ahh, the debate of using wikis in a classroom. This particular article discusses whether wikis are more beneficial in certain types of classrooms or courses. The authors mention that wikis are great for collaborative learning and that they use them for group work.

When it comes to collaborative learning, I agree that wikis would be a great fit. However, they need to be utilized in a way that is clear to the students and in a way that benefits the students. Without clear directions or an endgame, the students will get lost in the process and likely neglect it. While it’s nice to have a group facilitator when doing group work, it should also be a round table effect. Meaning that each student in the group takes a turn being the facilitator on multiple aspects. In doing this, students will be “forced” to participate in a way that they may not have intended.

Individual learning is not the outlet for wiki use. I strongly believe that there is a lot more going into a wiki than one person can handle. The wiki would likely turn into a blog. Wikis are meant to be collaborative and therefore group work is the definition of a wiki.

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A Different Approach with a Surprise Ending

Bilingual Blog

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Chapter 15 – Test! Test! Test!

Why is usability testing important? As a technical writer, this is the most important step. You need to make sure that your user is getting the most out of your product. In order to do this, you must conduct numerous usability tests with varying degrees of participants.

This is a recipe for usability testing. Here are your ingredients:

Real issues
Real people
Real tasks
Real data
Real insights
Real changes

Here are your steps:

Plan it out
Conduct your research
Analyze your data
Develop and submit a report
Use the results to make changes and adjustments

Optional variations:

Test remotely
Test remotely using an outside party
Think global
Test groups and individuals
Consider alternative test methods

Focus groups are great, but they have their faults. Just as a jury can be persuading by one person’s comment, focus groups can do the same. Be careful. JUST TEST IT!

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Chapter 14 – From Draft to Final

Revision is a process that many people do not do correctly. The key is getting from a draft version to a final draft. My suggestion is that if you are not comfortable or do not know how to revise a draft, find someone who can. It is important to get the revisions correct and to do multiple revisions.

Here are your steps:

• Read – Be aware of what you wrote.

• Edit – Grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence formation, fact checking, and link verification is only the start of the list. Be thorough right away. It will eliminate multiple revision cycles.

• Revise – See above

• Proofread – Read it through again. Make sure you didn’t rush and that the writing does not interrupt the flow of the piece.

• Edit – Do it again.

• Rest – Walk away. Let it sit. When you come back to it, you’ll be looking at it with a fresh set of eyes.

• Repeat – Do this until you have to exactly how you want it.

This is not a glamorous process, but it will help you to write better the first time. No one wants to spend all their time revising. Once you’ve revised several times, you’ll pick up on your common mistakes and will correct them in the future to avoid additional revisions.

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Chapter 13 – Using Illustrations Effectively

Illustrations are sometimes not connected to the content. The problem with this is that the readers will get confused. I personally have had many instances where I don’t understand what is written because of a lack of illustration or because the illustration was either vague or too in-depth for the level in which the description was written.

Redish states five instances that people should use illustrations in their sites;

• Exact item – This would show customers what an item looks like. Most typically on shopping sites. (amazon.com)

• Self-service – This would allow customers to choose their seats for a concert or theatre performance. (Guthrie)

• Processes or tasks – This will make the task more memorable and allows the customer to see how to complete it. (How to screenshot)

• Charts, graphs, or maps – This will allow customers to interact with the information. (mapquest)

• Mood – Illustrations demonstrating a mood will ideally invoke users to feel the same as the person in the photo. It is a means of pathos. (msu)

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