Learner Group: Any
Group Size: >30
Tool: A Wiki
Timeframe: 4 weeks+
This is a fairly simple way of simulating a kind of academic conference online. A student or a group of students present papers or articles comments are made, questions asked and networks formed through the wiki space. A simple way to get SOOOO much more out of the 'produce an essay focus'
1. Set up a conference wiki space outlining the theme, topic, linking to relevant resources and detailing tasks / assessment / ethos etc. (you could use http://www.seedwiki.com/ or http://www.bloki.com/ for free wiki creation). Also set up a sample one for learners to play around with as a first step.
2. Tell learners that in 3 weeks time you'll be hosting an online conference on ______ using a wiki. Introduce the idea of wikis (you could use: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,3973,1072779,00.asp where wikis are described as 'an open cocktail party' or http://wikiweb.com/intro1.shtml) Have a play around with one by getting learners to use on to introduce themselves or develop a meme started in, say, a lecture.
3. Send out a 'Call [demand ;o] for papers' You might like to do it like this:
"Call for papers for the _____ wiki conference, from _____ to _____
Please prepare a paper [paper example and criteria link here] for the above conference, the paper should deal with one aspect of the conference theme. You can prepare a paper individually or as a group (maximum number of authors - 5) and it should be less than 1500 words.
Please post your title and abstract to the conference homepage [link] by _____ within the next week. One week before the conference begins a program will be posted and you will be notified by email.
On the day your paper is to be presented please post it on a new page of the Wiki and create an appropriate link from the conference agenda. Please visit the site each day, read relevant papers and post questions and comments after the paper. Please return the following day to see the authors responses and continue the conversation (if you like).
You may update your paper throughout the week (although please mark updates with s). In the week following the conference please submit your personal review of the conference [link to review sample and criteria here]. You will receive feedback on your review, paper and interaction with questions and comments and a 'pass' or 'more work required' grade."
4. Keep everything rolling (hassling people for titles / abstracts etc.) & do the first paper yourself as a model.
Extras & Tips:
-Keep using email to keep people involved, announce papers etc. (if you can get email generated automatically with each new addition (and sent out in a daily digest) then do so!
-There's a lot of academic and technical autonomy built into this... it's there because that's exactly what Wikis are, seriously autonomous! Scary, but you'll probably all surprise yourselves!
-Practice 'soft security by backing up the whole wiki every day / 12 hours so if it all gets deleted then you can reinstate most of it.