From Loose Legos to Litwiki

From Loose Legos to Litwiki
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

At the beginning of the term, I was unclear as to what Technical Writing in the Digital Age really was. Reading through the course material, I gained a better understanding, but I had concerns over the idea of creating a full Wikipedia-style article.

Once it was clear that this was a group project, I still had concern. Oh no! Group projects! They are the bane of many college courses. Some over-contribute, while others contribute nothing at all. I quickly developed an appreciation for this method. Dr. Lucas, each of us in this course, and those with access to it could browse the pages and see in real time who made specific contributions. Eureka!

Contributions to the Article

Ethical Considerations - I initially added a brief paragraph that paraphrased information provided by Dr. Lucas. Though certainly a reliable source, I felt that it lacked enough substance to stand on its own. I knew it would have to be amended or rewritten altogether. Later, I deleted my original contribution to this section and rewrote new information from another reliable source.

Pedagogical Approaches - I added information in this section early in the process to stress what should be happening in colleges and universities.

Discussion

I found this area quite useful as each editor could bounce ideas off of one another. We could ask questions for clarification, as well as let our colleagues know in greater detail specific changes we made or were going to make.

I answered a question directed at me about citations. Though I did cite, it was not done properly. Thankfully, another editor corrected that for me.

I engaged in a discussion over topics vs subtopics. This was productive as we ensured that we were on the same page in our thinking.

I also made a correction in one of my replies. Originally, I neglected to include my signature and timestamp. While one could have possibly deduced that I made the comment, I corrected it to keep with the consistency of Wikipedia/Litwiki.

Comparison to Earlier Versions

My initial contributions were among the first to the project. After my contribution to ethical considerations, one editor added to it, while another broke it into subsections. This cleared up that overall section and made it more scannable.

What Did I Learn? / How Can This Be Applied?

I learned that this project is akin to a research paper. Where it differs is in the collaborative and real time tracking that the program offers.

I believe that this teaching method could be applied by other faculty to make group projects more engaging. I also believe that like Lannon & Gurak said in their book, Technical Communication, "...use a Wikipedia entry to get an overview of the topic, and to help you locate other sources...a place to get your research started..." Student and faculty researchers alike could benefit from this type of project just as those of us in this course have done.

Mike Romano

Mike Romano

Mike is currently a technical writing graduate student and a civilian US Navy blue collar worker.
Chesapeake, VA