Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sifting through Mental Rubble

You know that feeling.

You are in the middle of a creatively fertile period in your "professional" life. The response and feedback you receive has been constructive. You feel "productive". Certain puzzles are beginning to make sense.

You go on a lengthy vacation - long planned and looked forward to. Leaving behind multiple bits of unfinished mental business. Away from the computers and cell phones and social media tools. Away from anything that reminds you of "work" or "profession" or career

You return, only to find yourself staring at the bit of rubble wondering how you were planning to put it all together.

Oh yeah, I'm sooooo there.

It's gonna take me some time to make sense of it all.

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I've been doing an informal survey among the folks in my immediate work world who have implemented wikis as part of their day-to-day work. Informal findings:

- The groups using and editing the wiki are small and know each other from their day-to-day work.

- No anonymous posting. And since they already know each other, they have found no reason to have some over-arching "editor". The closest thing one group has to an editor is the guy who provides wiki access to the team.

- It is an expectation among them (encouraged by each group's management and driven by peers) to update their portions of the Wiki as needed.

- Other folks update the wiki as they find information, whether they are responsible for that section or not. There may be an informal face-to-face vetting of the information with the wiki article "owner" before the information goes into the wiki. Just a feeling this happens because of the culture of the organization, I need to ask more questions about this.

- To give you an idea of how these wikis are used among the folks I talked to: 2 groups use a wiki to document help desk information (information and links to support various computer models, how to's for troubleshooting, etc). 1 group uses a wiki to keep track of building configurations.

- For all of the individuals who adopted a wiki, the wiki solves a problem. The problem of tracking and accessing constantly changing information.

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Karen nailed my main goal for many of my projects on the head: Just-in-time performance support.

Because learning happens best when you actually need it.

Too bad it don't look like a "course".

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On vacation, found out that another one of my "real-world" friends actually reads this thing. He's a working historian.

Hi JP!!!!

Despite my stated desire to avoid thinking about anything smacking of education, instruction, or e-anything (OK, nevermind that I brought Deborah Todd's Game Design with me as "recreational reading") JP and I kicked around a couple of ideas for developing online history material.

During our conversation, I was reminded of the importance of copyright, publication and courses as an appropriate educational structure among the professoriate.

I'll let the rest of you argue the pros and cons of those beliefs.

That said, I wondered if there was a way to straddle the old and the new. Hmmm....what hooks people about history to begin with?

From the sessions on gaming at DevLearn, I remembered "Let the student make the important decisions."

So much of historical study centers around cause and effect and the arguments surrounding which variables were more important. Many historical writings (sometimes despite themselves) engage in the "What if..." game.

Hmmmm......

Still thinking this one through. What advice would you give?

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