Glenn Hendler, American Studies Program, Fordham University: This project is a group assignment for the sophomore-level American Studies introductory course offered in Spring 2008, "Major Developments in American Culture." Alongside readings in U.S. literature and history, small groups of students trace different threads first by studying the keyword published in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, then by hosting an online discussion of the keyword as it unfolds throughout the course readings. Students finally compose and collectively submit a new keyword essay.
Matthew Vechinski, Literature, University of Washington: The assignment below is a quarter-long wiki writing project that Matthew Vechinski used in a composition course (English 131). Instructors who are thinking of how to instruct students in collectively composing an essay in the Keyword collaboratory may find Matthew's assignment and rationale helpful.
Why a wiki?
On the class wiki, we’ll be doing collaborative writing to pool the knowledge and experience we gain as writers and readers, allowing us to better learn from each other. And it will show the reader-writer relationship in action as we build on and revise each other’s contributions to achieve the highest level of accuracy and completeness for a collective, emergent purpose.
During the quarter
Each day one student will be assigned to take his/her notes from class and post them to the wiki within 48 hours. (Students will do this the same number of times, roughly six or seven times total.) When adding notes to the wiki pages, keep the following in mind to best adapt the content to the purpose of the class collaboration:
- • Put your notes on the appropriate class collaboration wiki pages: there are five, each corresponding to one category on the evaluation rubric. The categories overlap to a certain extent, and you will have to find a way to respond to this condition.
- • Imagine your audience to be your peers: your classmates and any potential student of English 131. Adopt the appropriate tone and attitude towards your audience.
- • The class collaboration pages are meant to supplement and rethink the concepts from the instructional materials on the wiki, so do not duplicate the material there. (Do not quote the instructional materials or merely repeat the concepts.) Instead, find a way to present the same
material in a different way that your audience would find more effective.
- • As the quarter goes on, you will need to reorganize and revise the pages in order to best present the information. This means that you will move and change others' contributions but do so to preserve the purpose of the wiki.
It should be evident from the directions above that you need not transfer all of your notes to the wiki pages, only the notes that most relevant to the project at hand.
At the end of the quarter
Each student will be assigned to one of the five class collaboration pages. He/she must serve as the page's "editor" and make revisions and additions to bring it to its final form, keeping its relations with the other four pages in mind. The rationale for the student's final edits will be a significant item in the portfolio cover letter.