A Group Project

A mountain climber on the side of a cliff, roped in, and above the clouds.
Photo by Jef Willemyns / Unsplash

In my graduate class, "Technical Writing in the Digital Age", the students were tasked with working as a group on a collaborative project to create a Wikipedia-style article on the same topic as the course. The project was written on LitWiki, a site created to be a collaborative project with students from all over the world participating in online courses.

Getting to the final product required learning some basics about technical writing and digital writing. A few other important topics were:

  • Building Credibility and Improving Writing Skills
  • Creating a Domain and Professional Persona
  • Understanding the Target Audience, User Experience, and Accessibility
  • Citations and Editing

Collaboration

I learned the importance of collaboration, not just in LitWiki, but in Wikipedia. The amount of work completed by volunteers is astounding. I was unaware of where or who the information comes from, how it is researched and peer-reviewed, and the high expectations of remaining neutral (NPOV-neutral point of view) and presenting clear (without jargon) and verifiable information (well-researched and properly cited). I have an appreciation for Wikipedia (and wiki etiquette) that I never had before.

Final Article vs. Earlier Versions

Is there a final article? ever? It is important to remember that wikis are not finished. Wikis can continue to evolve and be improved by each new set of eyes reading them. After writing an article it should be reviewed and improved by each new contributor, and managed by the audience. The wiki contributor community seems to be creative and self-policing, with policies to follow the rules, share, engage, and mentor. Talk or discussion pages allow writers to strategize, and edits are completed with explanations for the group.

The LitWiki, Technical Writing in the Digital Age, had some starter paragraphs at the beginning of the semester. It has become an extensive and well-researched article on the topic.

List of LitWiki contributions
LitWiki contributions

Some Things I Learned

From the beginning of the course, each project was my Mount Everest. What I learned is that I am not skilled in the digital age. I stumbled my way uphill--if that's possible. I guess that being forced out of your comfort zone is where you do your best learning. I have a sense of pride related to some of the class projects, including creating a website and online persona. Creating a blog is something that I've been thinking about, but never tackled. In this course, I had no choice but to jump in and do it! Writing for the Ghost blog has been great practice and I'm thankful for the experience I have gained.

Group projects always stir a level of fear and anxiety within me, which often turns out to have been uncalled for. The edits that I find myself to be most comfortable with are copy edits. I added a citation and shortened it, but things involving technical skills and coding..... are just not for me (sigh). I read the code and can copy/paste/customize... but where?

Does the Public Understand Wikis

If the public had an understanding of what it takes to create and collaborate on wikis, it would certainly be awe-inspiring! Unfortunately, like myself before this course, I would gamble that most of the public is uninformed about how wikis come to exist.

Claire Toledo

Claire Toledo

Claire is a proud manager for local government. She is working to complete her MBPL, and balances work and school with family--husband, 2 independent children, dogs, cats, and chickens.
Defiance, Missouri