Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer 2012 Hackjam: The Wiki


Rebecca Itow and Dan Hickey
In the Fall 2011, we decided to put on a Hackjam in conjunction with the Monroe County Public Library. We adapted the curriculum outlined in the Hacktivity Kit to fit our needs, and partnered with ForAllSystems to implement a badging system for the event. You can read an earlier post giving an overall account of the event here.  We were particularly interested in aligning the hackjam with a Common Core English standard on multimodal writing.  We also wanted to make sure that all of the hackers learned how to discuss coding and writing for the web in networked spaces.  This was where they would want to go for help in the future.

Why Use a Wiki?
In adapting and designing the curriculum, it became readily apparent that, if we were going to have the participants hacking pages and reflecting on their learning, they would need a central place to do this. We began thinking that the best space would be a wiki because it is meant to be edited by multiple users, but each page can be customized to individual participants’ personality and needs. Rebecca had used Wikispaces with her 9th and 11th grade English students successfully in the past. Her experience in her own classroom combined with her participation in Dan’s online classes where they used “wikifolios” to house work and promote discussion convinced us that wikis were the right space for the type of engagement we wanted to foster.
Rebecca made a simple wiki on wikispaces, using the homepage as the place to access general information such as links to tools and websites that would be used throughout the Hackjam.

 
How Did We Structure Our Wiki?
Rebecca structured the wiki by making an internal page for the Summer 2012 Hackjam and, using a widget, created a simple way for new users to create new and easily accessible personal wikipages.


Rebecca also created internal pages as resources for the hackers to access as needed. This included html and CSS cheat sheets, and a description of the badges and badge requirements.

How Did Hackjammers Use the Wiki?
Our goals were modest, but most participants used the wiki as we intended and some went beyond.  Some participants customized their pages to fit their personalities, while others made only a simple page on which they posted their hacks and character profile.



Within each personal page, hackers posted reflections on their learning and thoughts on each
other’s work in the form of comments. While this is a section of the wiki that was not as widely used as we had hoped, it has the potential to thread conversations and track the learning and thought processes of the young hackers.