Thursday, May 14, 2009

Example Paperless Assignments: Students Build a Resource Wiki

A few teachers have asked for more examples of paperless assignments. Here is a collaborative take-home test I just gave my Latin II class. They've got 33 hours to complete the task as a group and they will not have class from now until it's due.

Prep-wise, we spent yesterday's class discussing and evaluating online sources.

Content-wise, they have created an online resource bibliography on the Gallic Wars and now they are responsible for using that bibliography to create their own wiki entry on the History of the Gallic Wars. They will be allowed to use this wiki as an aid in answering the open-ended essay question which will comprise 1/5 of their final exam grade.

Tech-wise, they have used Twitter hash-tags to build a communal online bibliography searchable through Twitter Search. They [will] have built and edited a wiki and will have teleconferenced via Skype or some other IM/text-means.

What will they learn? Hopefully they've learned to distinguish good from poor sources, how to work collaboratively using Web 2.0 technology, and how to construct a quality and exhaustive encyclopedia entry. I think the key is that they will be using this wiki as support on the final exam; it's not really just an 'end-product' in and of itself, but rather it's the 'tool' or 'resource' that they'll be allowed to use to give background info and examples in building their thesis on the open-ended question.
You are creating a collaborative wiki on the topic: History of the Gallic Wars.

1. Use Twitter Search to find the hash-tagged links you made today for the class bibliography. Those links form your source material.

2. Choose a class leader. The class leader will be responsible for creating the wiki.

3. Using Skype, Twitter, or just the old-fashioned cellphone, you are responsible as a class for completing the wiki by midnight tomorrow. (We don't have class tomorrow, so you are responsible for figuring out a way to do this).

4. I will be reviewing the edit history of the wiki. If you don't work on the wiki, you will not get any credit for the project. So don't think that someone else is just going to manage to get it done and you'll receive the group grade. No dice. You are responsible for earning your grade.

5. I will be grading for content and style. Please cover the period from Caesar's arrival in Gaul to his crossing the Rubicon at the beginning of the Civil Wars. The wiki should be written in proper academic style; watch to see that the tone is consistent. Review the entry in Wikipedia as a model -- for both good and bad.

6. Do not cut and paste from elsewhere. And do not rely wholly on Wikipedia. Though it is a strong source of encyclopedic material, I actually have a few problems with the entries related to the Gallic Wars -- can you figure out what they are?

7. You will be allowed to access your wiki on the Final Exam. So, be sure it is accurate and of the highest quality. Anything less would amount to jeopardizing your grade on the essay portion of the final.

8. Good luck. I trust you will figure out how to do this. I am always a fan of creative solutions.

This will be a double weighted group test grade.


  1. I think teachers should integrate more paperless assignments in their classrooms because that his how society is evolving and kids these days need to be prepared to face reality sooner than later.
    -Jack @ Paperless Document Management

  2. The question has become:

    Do we use the Internet to support curriculum or do we use the internet to create learning that learners and teachers are interested in.(curriculum)

    The former is the school/classroom model, the later is the 21st century in my viewpoint.

  3. I stumbled across your blog and think it is wonderful! This is a great idea and assignment. I struggle with incorporating technology in a first grade classroom. I would love to do a blogging assignment but most of the children do not have access to the internet outside of school.


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