Assembling the heterogeneous elements for digital learning

Initial steps with the #FedWikiHappening happening

So I’m starting another MOOC. Though it’s not a MOOC at all. It’s apparently a SiCMOOC (small intimate Connectivist MOOC). Though that term is labouring a fad for more than it’s worth. Much prefer the term the organiser (Mike Caufield @holden) is using a happening

The happening metaphor is borrowed from theater, where tightly structured but ultimately meaningless events combine with the actions of audience-participants to produce unique, emergent meaning.

Specifically, I’ll be participating in the Federated Wiki Happening (#fedwiki seems to be the hash tag update: #fedwikihappening it is). The best current description seems to be this Google doc. I’ll attempt to use my blog as a journal of the experience. So here goes.

At first glance the happening shows some of the characteristics of a cMOOC. Each day we’re getting a “daily” to spark off ideas and tasks.

Daily #1 – Interesting people to be sure

Setting the scene. Letting us know what to expect. Linking the happening back to the early Wiki days and setting the happening up as the source of the first federated wiki community. More than learning a new tool, we’re helping co-develop its culture.

Federated wiki is easy to install – the coder in me wants to get to that straight way.

Daily #2 – An introduction to idea mining

The main activity for this happening is collaborative journaling using federated wiki. The nature of federated wiki – a focus on reuse and connection – makes it different than blogging or other media.

Apparently Idea Mining is a useful approach

the translation of things we read, see, and think into named ideas and examples that we can connect to form larger and more various thoughts.

As it happens the same connections that got me into this happening has provided me with a ready made example. After attending my ASCILITE’14 presentation and as part of a Twitter conversation @timklapdor tweeted

https://twitter.com/holden/status/537704997073739777

To which the happening’s illustrious organiser (@holden) replied with an illustration of Idea Mining around the idea of “digital renovator”. AN ideas that I briefly mentioned in the presentation. (Actually, I only added that slide the night before as part of my last edits).

Task: Must explore how to expand/extend/reuse that page once I have FedWiki installed. Must start using Trello for my FedWiki todo list.

Question: I assume page (as in Wiki page) is the correct term for a part of a FedWiki?

In recent cMOOC tradition we’re starting out the happening with a suggested process. This one summarised in this video.

The video critiques some of the current options (social bookmarking, twitter) we use around social media when we currently find something interesting. Instead replacing it with creating a page in Federated Wiki that captures the idea.

A lot of the “goodness” that might arise from this practice does appear to arise from Mike’s skilled use of it. Remembering connections with other ideas and taking the time to make the connections between them.

Question: How well will folk (like me) who are currently using social bookmarking and other limited means take to this type of active process? Will it only work for the motivated and capable folk?

It also illustrates that a lot of benefit arises when there are other folk using this same approach and tool. Hence perhaps the importance of this happening and its aim of creating the community.

Question: Watching the video as Mike connected ideas, the obvious though was whether anyone has harnessed something to visualise the “idea map”?

Question: Wondering also how the inevitable problem of “same idea, different label” gets handled?

Daily #3 – Skirting the orange halo of death

Apparently there’s an interface issue we should be aware of.

Mentions that Federated Wiki – “a federated data-ware JSON driven platform” – includes lot of difficult stuff. This type of change isn’t easy.

Question: When combined with the need for FedWiki users to be motivated and capable (see above), does this mean that the adoption cost of FedWiki will be too high? Too high for me? What about too high for some of the courses and the students I teach?

Apparently the problem focused on here has been a problem in a course. And a problem for some of the happening participants. This video summarises the problem and the solution. In essence, it appears to be a caching issue. In essence, the changes you make in a FedWiki page are made in a browser. Whilst you have a valid Internet connection (or permission to edit a page) the changes get updated on the server. But if your connection/permissions doesn’t exist, you get a orange halo and the updates are only in your browser. You have to hit a button to get it updated on the server (once your connection/permission is back).

Apparently we get our fedwiki homes in a couple of days. Can I wait? Should I try to go it alone and install it? Looks like a Ruby application.

Perhaps I should read a bit more about Federated Wiki. This Wired story seems like a good place to start and asks a question similar to the above – “But is it too nerdy to catch on?”. It also mentions the challenge of overcoming social media inertia.

And a TEDx talk from Ward Cunningham himself explaining the federated wiki.

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