Category Archives: Session: Teach

Proposal for a session in which you offer to teach a skill, either a “hard” skill or a “soft” skill.

Wikipedia editing

I propose to lead a session on editing Wikipedia and wikis of a similar type.  I can present briefly on how the Wikipedia system works — notably that Wikipedia editors and articles have “histories” and therefore something like “reputations”.  We can edit articles, like the English article on THATCamp, or create an analogue in other languages, or edit related topics, or edit anything else.

One goal is to create accounts and develop the confidence and competence to edit again later.  Another goal is to take a look at, a closely related site which invites us to create and edit transcriptions of historic texts. This is a safe way to practice a non-native language, and to learn a historic topic.

Wikipedia and Wikisource editing can be a formal educational activity for students.  They get the satisfaction of writing or editing in a “published” format, where their work might be read and useful for years to come.  So a third goal is to develop the knowledge and confidence that this really can be done for a class.  I’m not an expert on this but the Wiki Educational Foundation can help set up materials and grading standards for a class. They have done it many times. Hopefully someone among us will have experience with wikis as classwork, and if not I can present what I know and introduce interested parties to the people and materials from Wiki Ed.

I’d welcome comments to pre-shape this potential session to be useful. Topics to edit? Have you used Wikipedia for class work?

Teaching with “Non-Technological” Technologies

The technological revolution in higher education is regularly promised but, like flying cars and jetpacks, seems to be always just on the verge of arriving. MOOCs and DOCCs, flipped or virtual classrooms, screencasting, and e-learning dominate the current landscape but in previous decades typewriters, projectors, educational television, and CD-ROMs brought with them renewed promises of a pedagogical paradigm shift.

Often this revolution is portrayed in terms of technological interventions, additions, and disruptions in what is taken to be a non-technological space. But hasn’t teaching always been technological? Were not abacuses, writing slates, ink pots, and blackboards technologies with their own particular scripts for scholastic action? Are not both books and e-books technological aides?

In truth, technologies have always been a part of teaching but we seem to spend much less effort reflecting on the influence of these outmoded methods than the potential impacts of Udacity [1] or Minerva University [2, 3]. The purpose of this session is not to assess whether or not revolutions in teaching tracked technological innovations, nor to embrace or thwart new revolutions. Instead, we will explore the contention that anachronistic technologies offer particular values that cannot or should not be superseded by hi-tech solutions. We will look at the pedagogic values of lo-fi technologies, slow technologies, and ‘non-technological’ technologies. What does the ‘low tech’ classroom offer an educator and a student?

If you would like to participate in this session, email me at .






Try out classroom exercises

In my teaching, I would like to develop more classroom exercises. I am particularly interested in exercises that can be used for one of two things:

(1) to give students a taste of how one might look at, problematise and analyse, certain artefacts, phenomena or cases. I am thinking of the exercise devised by Robert Martello and Jonathan Stolk to introduce their course The Stuff of History (Olin College) which brings together history of technology and materials science. The version I experienced at one of Olin’s summer workshops a few years ago had us (in small groups) choose an item from a big pile of heterogeneous stuff and examine it by comparing the material composition and societal impacts of this modern artefact with those of an ancient counterpart.

(2) to create an experience that ‘brings home’ something of importance for the class and/or individual students in it. I am thinking, for example, of role play as a way to get students to break away from the constraints of being themselves when exploring an issue from multiple perspectives.

For this proposed THATCamp session, I would like to bring one of my classroom exercises to try out on, and critically evaluate with, other participants. The exercise will be for the interdisciplinary seminar on ‘Fakes‘ which I’ll teach again later this year with students at Tembusu College, National University of Singapore.

I would also like to be a participant in classroom exercises others wish to try out.

If you are keen to participate in a session of this kind let me know ()! We can then think about what time limits to set for the exercises, flesh out what kind of critical evaluation would help us improve them, etc.