Guidelines for Makin’ Wiki

If Twitter is any measure of trends, I see a turn in the conversations among teachers and administrators. To be sure, most of the tweets I read in the group of educators I follow are still are about things to do with technology–make a screen cast or share video on a Ning, sorts of things. But I read a growing number of discussions around policies and guidelines governing student behaviour online. This morning @mscofino sent this (click the image to go to her tweet & download her rubric):


Hers is a well-made rubric. But I just don’t think you can use such a thing to guide behaviour on a blog. Oh, it might work for a single post, or when you are trying to evaluate whether a student has the technical skills to embed video, for example. But a rubric is too prescriptive for something as complex and variable as a blog. For example, in @mscofino’s rubric you might be considered just a “Beginner” in terms of “Quality of Presentation” if you have few images:


But you don’t need images to make a a great looking blog; have a look at these minimalist WordPress themes that focus on the written word. Conversely, there would be no writing at all to assess in an all-photo blog.

The point here is not to critique Cofino’s rubric, although I do think it contains a bias toward one particular kind of blog. The point is to say that I don’t think we should make a blog template, even if it is disguised as rubric, for students to copy. I worry that that will force everything into the same mold. I suggest instead that we find ways to describe to our students habits of mind or ways of being on the we, and then let them create what they will. At Island Pacific School, where I teach, we came up with this set of guidelines for working in the school’s wiki:

[scribd id=20957507 key=key-29ear9tw5et9yl18m6r0]

And I wrote the following for a ning where our students and those from Calgary Science School will come together to collaborate on a study of Western philosophy:


To be honest, and to be fair to Cofino, we are just beginning to open up our wikis and ning to the public, so it’s too early to say whether this approach works better than a rubric or hard policy. But I think it will. In my experience, young people are capable of much more than we often give them credit.

But I am interested in hearing how other people handle all this.

One Comment

  1. Reply
    Sharon Peters November 3, 2009

    Have written my fair share of rubrics for using online spaces. Formative assessment, rather than summative assessment should be the focus for evaluating growth of a learner whenever such spaces are used over time.You might be interested in this: think the graphic represents a solid attempt at explaining a formative assessment approach.By the way, good thinking here. When I did my own research five years ago on collaborative online learning for high school students, no such rubrics or “measuring stick” existed (that I could find). I created my own from scratch and have been interested to see the lines of thought about this topic evolve over time.

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