So far in 2018, the second Monday evening of the month is technology night at the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR). In my new (volunteer) position as Learning Technologist, I suggested this ongoing event to help the faculty and administration improve their digital skills as they transition to an online accredited institution. For our first project, I set up a free Wikiversity course so we can all learn to edit and eventually create Wikipedia pages. “The Wikiversity e-Learning model places emphasis on “learning groups” and “learning by doing”. Wikiversity‘s motto and slogan is “set learning free”… .” With all the work being done around accreditation, by a part time faculty and a student body of working adults, I hoped this asynchronous exercise would be a low stakes way to invite learning and lead to the creation of a Wikipedia page for future students and other interested parties to learn more about WISR.

The same small group has been attending the meetings, but not really doing any coursework. This is typical of free no credit online courses. Hopefully, as more folks hear about the class, this will improve. We’re also comparing Zoom to GoToMeeting, so there is a lot of technological change going on. And sound issues, always sound issues.

The next morning I received an email notice of a new blog post from my favorite Learning Technologist CogDog. If you haven’t visited his websites, you should. You’ve certainly seen one of his thousands of daily photographs he posts to Flickr, they are licensed for free use and are all over the internets. Anyway, his latest post on CogDogBlog is about the class he’s co-teaching in Mexico on “Open as a Question; Wikimedia as Example, Open Pedagogy, Open Technology, and Open Scholarship.” His posts are always filled with links to social media, learning technologies and even code he writes. Near the end of his post he embedded a presentation he prepared, but never used. CogDog doesn’t throw away projects, he shares them. Instead of making slide decks for presentations he creates websites, or as he describes them, SPLOTS (Smallest Possible Online Learning Tools). Of course, he’s posted the modified Word Press theme he uses to create SPLOTS on GitHub, so you can use it too.

I clicked on “The ‘Pedia and Beyond” and wandered through it’s eleven pages of video, photos, instructions and social media links. The last page has a link to “Listen to Wikipedia”, an audio visual representation of Wikipedia events in real time!

Click image to listen.Screen capture of "Listen to Wikipedia" website.                                      Photo by CogDog

Bells indicate additions and string plucks indicate subtractions. Pitch changes according to the size of the edit; the larger the edit, the deeper the note. Green circles show edits from unregistered contributors, and purple circles mark edits performed by automated bots. You may see announcements for new users as they join the site, punctuated by a string swell. You can welcome him or her by clicking the blue banner and adding a note on their talk page.”

To me it sounds like a cross between Indonesian Gamelan music and New Age relaxation sounds. I was mesmerized by the floating circles (with their Wikipedia article titles) and the various sounds identifying the types of Wikipedia edits happening when SPLAT! A giant gray circle covered nearly the entire screen and inside the circle was “Presidency of Donald Trump.” I clicked on it and was taken to the Wikipedia talk page for this Wikipedia article. There was the major addition to the article ; the list of Notable Departures from his administration. I imagine this was inspired by the one Rachel Maddow has been scrolling on her nightly cable news show.

List of Departed Trump Administration list on Rachel Maddow Show.

I scanned down the Wikipedia list and back to the top: it is chronological and the top entry in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and today’s date, March 13, 2018. That’s how I found out the US Secretary of State has been fired!

Below his entry is
John McEntee – Personal Aide to President Fired 3/13/2018
James Schawb – Spokesperson for ICE Resigned 3/12/2018
Gary Cohen – Top Economic Advisor Resigned 3/7/2018
and Hope Hicks.

Hope Hicks “Role” was listed as Secretary of State, a copy and paste error no doubt, so I signed into Wikipedia and edited it to read “White House Communications Director.” This entry referenced a Business Insider article which had her correct title. Did you know all Wikipedia entries have to have references? Several people at the Western Institute for Social Research do. They now have Wikipedia accounts and are researching new articles. Why don’t you join us?