Multimodal Mondays: Wiki Invention Heuristics for Digital, Public Compositions

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Today's guest blogger is Jeanne Bohannon​ (see end of post for bio).

This semester has been all about comfort zones for me, both in how I connect with my student audiences and also how I participate in my own research. As are many of you, I am attending CCCCs (#4C16) this week and am conducting an interactive workshop similar to a feminist Wiki Write-in, with the topic "Mis-represented Women in STEM fields."  For this week's blog, I want to reflect on a democratic learning opportunity that initially took me out of my comfort zone as a new teacher.  The assignment I describe below is the inspiration for my #4c16 workshop, a set of brainstorming sessions of a wiki writing project that I did with a group of English 1102 students using Andrea’s ideas of writing to the world and writing for value. 

Context for Working the Assignment
The seed of a public, crowd-sourced text for recovery of misrepresented women throughout the history of STEM fields germinated in a democratic class community and an idea that students want their writing to have meaning and value to others. The original document lives at our English 1102 Women in STEM Wiki.  Here is how we brainstormed as a class for the assignment:

Our project goals were to recover the life experiences of 20 women who contributed to STEM fields, research digital and physical texts and visuals associated with them, and produce encyclopedic entries that highlight these forgotten women, with the ultimate goal of disseminating the digital wiki document to Science organizations and schools for curriculum enrichment. 

As a large group we used Google Docs and the Internet as invention heuristics, completing a “speed”-date” process to decide on our top twenty list of forgotten women in STEM. We researched and drafted facts in 10-minute  spurts using a style template.

By the end of the class hour, we had the beginnings of 20 entries.

Pacing for a Wiki Brainstorm
10 minutes total for each entry:

  • Choose an entry subject: 1 minute
  • Technology-driven brainstorm: 2 minutes
  • Research and draft pages: 6 minutes
  • Plan next steps for shared writing and next entry: 1 minute

Measurable Learning Objectives

  • Practice research methods in digital spaces
  • Analyze and create meaning from a diversity of live experiences
  • Synthesize content-meaning through dialogic writing and shared semantics
  • Create a collaborative, public document for multiple audiences

Background Reading for Students and Instructors
Acts of reading and viewing visual texts are ongoing processes for attaining learning goals in dialogic, digital writing assignments. Below, I have listed a few foundational texts. You will no doubt have your own to enrich this list.

  • The Everyday Writer: Ch. 13, Doing Research; Ch. 25, Writing to Make Something Happen in the World
  • The St. Martin’s Handbook: Ch. 11, Conducting Research; Ch. 26, Writing to Make Something Happen in the World
  • Writing in Action: Ch. 3, Writing to Make Something Happen in the World; Ch. 13, Doing Research
  • EasyWriter: Ch. 6, Writing to Make Something Happen in the World, Ch. 37, Conducting Research

Reflections on the Original Assignment – Student
From 1102 Wiki Co-Editor Amelia Dunbar: "Who knew an English 1102 class would lead to a collaboration with others to produce an educational Wiki about the “forgotten” women who have had major accomplishments in STEM?  The idea of the wiki was to create a scholarly resource about women in STEM fields, to be used as a learning tool for middle- and high-school readers. This assignment was a crowd-sourced effort for the entire class.  I enjoyed the opportunity to help others revise and edit their articles. Editing other student’s articles also helped me improve my proofreading and editing skills. I also helped students with English as their second language. It was a great experience to work with students of different backgrounds and have more meaningful types of interactions than I would encounter in a typical general education class."

My Reflection
I am excited to take Andrea's idea of "writing for value" and apply it to the #4C16 Wiki-Workshop.  I hope that this fledgling project will grow into a global write-in effort to recognize women's contributions in STEM fields and to recover the life experiences that influenced them along the way.  What makes Wiki-Work meaningful to me is that its digital and public nature creates opportunities for feminist scholars across the world to contribute to collaborative knowledge productions and to bring women's work to the forefront of our shared, cultural heritage(s).

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Jeanne Law Bohannon is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Writing and Media Arts (DWMA) department at Kennesaw State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become stakeholders in their own rhetorical growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies, critical pedagogies, and New Media theory; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing informed and empowered student scholars. Reach Jeanne at: and

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.