Faculty Discuss Blogging and Wiki Assignments to Enhance Learning at Faculty Roundtable

By Cecilia Lo

On January 16, 2015, Cori Anderson, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Slavic Language Program, and Nova Smith, PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies (representing WJT Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, Department of English, Art History, and Visual Arts), led a discussion with faculty from across disciplines on blogging and wiki assignments in a Faculty Roundtable, co-sponsored by the Chicago Center for Teaching and ASTS. The purpose of the Roundtables is to discuss good pedagogical practices and encourage instructors to share effective pedagogical tools.

Current Events Blogs, Biography Blog, Pen-pal Project, and Geography Project in Russian Language Curriculum

Anderson begins her presentation with an overview of the Russian language curriculum goals, which are for students to gain written and oral communication skills, attain informational literacy and intercultural knowledge, engage in civic issues, develop a love for life-long learning, and be able to apply their skills beyond the initial classroom settings. The UChicago curriculum seeks to meet these goals through some innovative, scaffolded or progressive assignments. These include current events blogs (2nd & 5th quarter), biography blog (3rd quarter), pen-pal project (4th quarter) and a geography project (6th quarter).  In her presentation, captured in the video below, she gives details on these assignments, how they work, and what makes them successful.  She also discusses some guiding principles in designing these assignments.


New Media Glossary Wiki in Theories of Media Course

Smith is a veteran teaching assistant for WJT Mitchell’s courses. In her presentation, she discusses the multi-year, multi-course iterations course wiki project on the Keywords of Media Theory. In each iteration of Mitchell’s Theories of Media course since 2004, students are asked to either 1) write an entry on a new media term, 2) revise an existing term, or 3) write about an existing term that has not yet been included in the glossary. Over the years, Mitchell and his teaching team find that students are excited to produce work that has a life beyond the academic term and has real-world impact. Further, the wiki, as a multi-year and multi-course project, provides a “sense of the fluctuation of these terms, their differing connotations, contingent valences, and multiple meanings. The resulting resource offers a rare opportunity to document the collective learning accomplished by the course over a period of several years.” You can watch Smith’s presentation in the video below: