Friday, January 20, 2012

Recent Changes Camp 2012 Canberra Day One

Liam Wyatt and other Wikipedians in a conversation pod at the Inspire Center, University of Canberra, during Recent Changes Camp 2012Greetings from the closing session of the first day of Recent Changes Camp 2012 in Canberra. This is being held in the TEAL Teaching Room at the "INSPIRE Centre" of the University of Canberra. I learned that there is more to Wikipedia than just a collection of articles. There is an organization behind the Wikipedia, looking after the existing content and expanding its use, for the public good. There is funding to educate people on how to create new Wikipedia content and work with organizations. There is are also resources to help with educating on how to create wiki content and how to use Wikipedia in education.

The Wikimedia Strategy

The Wikimedia Movement Strategic Plan (to 2015 ) calls for "Women and other under represented groups will need to be invited/recruited, and the culture of WMF projects will need to be adjusted to accommodate them ..." (User:FloNight).

Wikipedia Outreach

The Wikipedia organizing has been successful at working with the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). I suggest that the Wikipedia organization could extend this to other knowledge workers, through their professional associations (such as IT professionals, film makers, scriptwriters and media).

Wikimedia and Education

Wikipedians would like to encourage teachers and students to create more content. At RCC2012 we discussed how this could be done. Wikipedia is seen as a problem in schools and universities with students being told not to use it. This is because Wikipedia is not a primary source, is of variable quality, is not something teachers grew up with and plagiarism by students. The way to address this, I suggest, is to provide teaching materials for teachers to incorporate responsible use of Wikipedia in their courses. A byproduct of this will be the creation of additional Wikipedia content by students and teachers.

The Wikipedia of Things

Someone else had already put up "Wikipedia Education" on the list of topics, so lacking a topic to suggest I wrote up "The Wikipedia of Things". The idea would be to use the "Internet of things" (intelligent devices connected to the Internet) to automatically update the Wikipedia, rather than having to wait for someone to enter the information.

The Inspire Centre Building

It was also to see the Inspire teaching spaces in operation. The centre is new and is still being fitted out. There is one standard size TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) room where most sessions were held. All four walls of the room are painted with white-board paint. Three walls have projectors projecting directly onto the walls and one with a projection screen. The room is equipped with round tables accommodating nine people each. For increased flexibility the tables are made of two semicircular halves on wheels, with flip up tops. There is a computer equipped lectern on wheels in one corner of the room (this can be plugged into a socket in the floor in the middle of the room for "Cabaret" style presentations).

The TEAL room looks to the casual observer low tech (just a big square room with white walls), compared to other computer equipped rooms, with screens for each student bolted to the desk, stepped floors and all sorts of gizmos. But the TEAL room design has years of research behind it, on what actually improves education. Also with a flat floor and furniture which is not bolted to the floor (or tethered by cables) the room can be used very flexibly (think of it like the holodeck on the Star Ship Enterprise, which is about the same size).

Outside the TEAL room is a large common space, with a rubber floor, kitchenette and an assortment of informal group furniture. The centre is intended to introduce teachers to the use of technology in learning, so there is a slightly eclectic assortment of furniture. Most popular was a small circular pod which seats about four people. The walls are covered with cloth, providing a relatively private small group environment. There are some benches with LCD screens at the end and three stools on each side. There are bright red chairs which look like they are wooden, but are actually made from recycled plastic Coke bottles (these looked very durable but were very heavy). There are some chairs on circular wheeled bases with built in desks (these proved popular for pushing each other around on).

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