One of the units I’m doing this semester has a really unusual method of assessment: a student-run online conference.
The idea is that each student writes a conference paper that fits one of four streams, then submits it for assessment. It is returned with comments and a notional mark, then we have a week to revise it and publish it on the conference site. The notional mark is adjusted (hopefully upwards, because downwards would just be embarrassing), and that is worth a whopping 50% of our mark for the unit. There is also a 30% “participation” mark which is about commenting on other people’s papers, responding to comments on your own paper,
talking about the conference on your blog promoting the conference etc. With over 100 students enrolled in the course through three different institutions, some as undergrads and the rest of us as postgrads, there are plenty of opportunities to find something interesting.
It’s a really interesting idea. I have a few qualms, but they’re mostly of the “what if my paper is crap and/or naïve?” paranoid anxiety type (I get terrible Post-Submission Anxiety, as soon as a piece of work is out of my hands), with a side of “what if some of the other people’s papers are crap?”. But as with anything of this nature, the good papers will bubble up to the top – and they’re the ones I will be tweeting about and inviting you all to look at.
Because I think many of you WILL be interested in the conference and in its streams:
- Communities and Web 2.0
- Gaming and Online Communitites
- Identity in Communities and Networks
- Social Networks
No prizes for guessing which stream I wrote for!
I really enjoyed working on this, because, as I have said before, the topic was malleable enough to let me write about things I am interested in while still being relevant to the topic and learning a lot. I’ve read a lot about games, but hadn’t read so much about the theory of games before – not the stats and probability, but the big picture concepts and ideas. There was a great discussion on my Facebook recently but, as all good discussions do, it degenerated to the point where all that we could agree on was that “Gamification is bollocks”. Only now, I have a big pile of references to quote when I want to say that. (And I *do* want to say that, so often and in so many different ways that I give myself points for doing).
The Big Find for me, in this semester, has been Ray Oldenburg’s book The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and other hangouts at the heart of a community. There’s been quite a lot of work done on how our online spaces fulfil many of the same needs as the physical places that Oldenburg writes about. I feel like I’ve barely touched the sides there, let alone reached the surface.
The other Big Find has been, well, academics completely shitbagging each other. That is, it turns out, always funny. Except, it would not be if it were me. Please note and remember.
Anyway. That thing I said about participation. I’ll post here when my paper goes up (April 29, but the conference lasts 3 weeks). My rather wordy topic, whose origins the careful reader will notice, is Gaming Squared? Brettspielwelt: World, Game, or Great Good Place? – If you are interested in the topic, or even if you just like me a little bit, please consider reading and commenting.