Friday, November 02, 2007

Transliteracy, wikis and essay writing

This week I tried a new venture with the wiki I am using to support student's work on my Narrative Analysis module. The students are starting to prepare for their main assignment now, and I wanted to be able to help them use various strategies in planning their project. One issue I have encountered in the past is that mind maps are often confused with essay plans. To help students make the transition between a visual image which emphasises spatial connection and a verbal structure which depends on linear argumentation, I set them the following exercise.

1. In groups of 4-5, they had to develop a diagram or mind map to summarise the topics we had covered in class (different frameworks for categorising narrators), showing how this connected with any other narrative theory we had discussed on the module, and giving examples from the (mostly literary) extracts they had in their handouts.

You can see a sample mindmap at the top of this entry. Once they had completed the map, I muddled the groups so that the students reviewed each other's work, face-to-face. This is usually where I would stop in my pre-wiki days, feeling pretty pleased that students had done some good work and had some interesting discussion with each other. The problem is, that in the offline world, those mindmaps are usually disregarded and we don't help students transfer those connections into other mediums of forms of literacy.

My response has been to take photos of each of the maps, post them on the wiki pages (with the help of our fab web designer Matt who resized them for me - Thank you!), and ask the students to use the map as the basis for either a paragraph-length summary of their conclusions or a structured list of points for how they would develop the discussion further. Fingers crossed they will do it. Fingers crossed again it will help them prepare their assignments. For me, it's an exciting step in using web 2.0 technology to support student learning and showing how transliteracy can be put to work in the humanities seminar room.



Anonymous Ruby said...

Hi Ruth!
Thanks for our blog article - nice idea. I thought you might be itnerested in a mindmap peice of software I've been using -
I don't work in a very linear way, so I like mindmaps; this one is VERY easy to use but the bit I like best is that you can save it as a Word document and it becomes headings, paragraphs and a nice essay!

8:17 AM  

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