Last November, I bit the bullet and leaped into the next era of ICT (information communications technology) and taught a dozen Kindergarten students (and myself, slightly one step ahead) how to design a wiki.Now, I’ve dabbled in adding and editing an existing wiki (eg. Wikipedia, Star Trek Memory Alpha and Memory Beta, etc), but this time I had to work out how to design one, and how to help the students to build up a narrative (in fable form, complete with a motto) – and post it to the wiki. Welcome, students, to the world of Web 2.0!
We’d already spent a few weeks researching and modelling the nature of fables (The hare and the tortoise, The fox and the grapes, et al) and normally I’d have done a group construction of a narrative on butcher’s paper, and edited it with a felt pen. Instead, we used a free wiki service – at pbwiki.com (Peanut butter wiki) and, within a few moments of launch of our first fable, our fledgling wiki web pages were being looked at by two different Internet surfers in California, USA. Amazing!
Young students are simply not scared to (literally) push that newest button in modern technology. The next day we had visitors from several parts of Europe, more Californians, interstate Australians and even “a visitor from parts unknown”, according to pbwiki.
A week later, Selwa Anthony, Australian literary agent extraordinaire, held her annual all-day seminar and gala dinner for her ever-growing network of amazing authors. Once again at the Novatel Hotel in Brighton-le-Sands, Succeed – It’s Great in 2008 was as stimulating as the first one I attended (way back in November 1993, Succeed Some More in ’94.) The seminars take their title from a little self-help book, Succeed with me, which Selwa once wrote with Jimmy Thomson – and it’s now available in audio by Bolinda Audio; we received a freebie in our goodie bag upon arrival!
Despite the fact that, so far, I haven’t earned Selwa any percentages, she keeps inviting me back. These seminars have certainly directed me into numerous opportunities over the years but so far nothing commercial enough that would earn Selwa her percentage. Yet. Selwa continues to have faith in me, but I always feel quite humble in the talented company of Selwa’s network.
Anyway, the first speaker was a no-show. So compere, Mark Macleod, offered up what he called “one-minute spots”, over the course of the day, to anyone wanting to share something special to the rest of the network. A few people availed themselves of the opportunity and, in the morning tea break, I was boasting to friend and author/journalist Sue Williams about my Kindergarten students’ recent work writing fables on the World Wide Web via a wiki.
Sue’s eyes lit up and she said, “Go and tell Mark you’ll do a one minute spot!”
The next thing I knew, I was sharing my young students’ work – from memory! – with the likes of Tara Moss, Kim Wilkins, Ian Irvine, new children’s author Amanda Holohan, and so many other Australian literary luminaries. It was a highly energizing experience, and it made sooooooo twitchy to get to the keyboard and write about the students’ (and my) successes. Maybe there’ll be a chance for a much longer session at the next seminar?
Check out the final drafts of the students’ wiki fables and accompanying artwork at: http://penrithpslibrary.pbwiki.com/.