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Wiki Class Notes

Page history last edited by Brian Croxall 13 years, 11 months ago

Wiki Class Notes


Class notes are, to borrow from a colleague of mine, “epistemologically weird.” On the one hand, they are an individual account of what you learned during a class. On the other hand, if your notes are too individualized or idiosyncratic it means you will have likely missed what was most important. To be effective, in other words, class notes should reflect the collective experience of the classroom. To this end, you will be working in groups this semester to create class notes using the course wiki.


Working in groups, you will be responsible for developing and maintaining a wiki page with notes for each class. Online notes SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT simply transcribe what's on the board. Instead, you are responsible for the following:


  • A 250- to 300-word summary of the day's activities / whatever the main point of the class seemed to be. How did the assigned readings for that day hold together?
  • Transcribe one to three passages that we talked about in class, and explain how they relate to the main point.
  • Key terms that came up in class, plus a definition.


This much is due before the start of the next class. Over the course of the semester, you will be responsible for updating the page as concepts recur or develop over time.


It's very easy to do this assignment badly. ("Ooh--we'll divvy up the different required parts, and just slap it all online.") But the point of a wiki really is to try to collaboratively draft, revise, and rethink material. Change stuff. Use the "comments" feature. Link to other days' notes to extend the conversation. Don't be afraid of the site: There's nothing you can break.


Each group will write 5 entries on the wiki and the assignment is worth 150 points total. Each entry is worth 25 points. In general, I will email the scores for the notes posted during the week to groups on Friday/Saturday. I will be looking to how well your notes cover and discuss (1) the main point of class, (2) the passages, and (3) the definitions of key terms. You should also make sure the notes are pristinely copyedited; formatting, grammar, and syntax are important contributions to this wiki and the creation of all knowledge. I will also post my comments about the notes (but not their score) to the page of the wiki, so the whole class can see them.


The remaining 25 points will be allocated at the end of the semester based on how a report that group members will make to me--privately--about how the group dynamic functioned. In other words, don't slack off; everyone must carry her/his own weight in this assignment.


Having a semester’s worth of class notes aggregated on the wiki will also help you see exactly how much work takes place in an English classroom and it will be a useful resource for reviewing material that you might have missed or when preparing for exams. I have been known to consult your notes on the wiki when preparing my exam questions.


Two points to consider

  1. Since I am teaching three sections of this course, it is extremely important that you make sure you are editing your section’s set of notes. I will grade your group based what is on your page.
  2. Not every session of class will have a group assigned to cover its notes. However, I will create pages for these days all the same. You are more than welcome to sketch out—in whatever fashion you would like—notes for these days of class. Doing so could be a useful way to prepare for exams. Moreover, on these unassigned days, I will create a joint page that is shared between all three sections so that any contributions can be shared equally. No one is required to contribute to these notes, and you will not be bound by the normal restrictions of the notes (word count and/or passage number limits). It’s simply an option in case you’d consider it useful.

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