Wiki Changing Things

Yesterday, we hosted another Women in Technology session.  We’ve been doing this for six or seven years now, in partner with IBM Canada K-12 Education.  The session is half a day partnering Grade 7 and 8 girls with mentors who use technology as part of their daily routine.  The goal is to encourage girls as they enter their teenage years to not close doors on mathematics, science, and technology.

The girls are divided into small groups and work with their mentor on a project which they share with the group at the end of the session.  The project really isn’t the ultimate goal – the goal is to work and talk alongside a mentor about the project and technology and careers in general.

The original concept was inspired by the lack of numbers of women entering Computer Science courses at university.  The original project was also very Toronto-centric where you could assemble a group of women who work at IBM to come to the school.  In our location, that’s just not possible so we have modified things to include mentors from the local community.  It’s worked incredibly well for us and, while we have no delusions that we’re changing the entire world, the goal is to open minds to the possibilities.

To each session, each group of girls bring their educational learnings to the table.  In this particular group, there was something rather unique.  Throughout the year, this group of students (boys and girls) had developed a great deal of their course content on a class wiki.  As an observer, the mechanics of the session seemed considerably different.  The girls were easily able to decide on a project, work together for the entire morning, and there didn’t seem to be a visible single leader in any of the groups.

Instead, there was a greater sense of shared responsibility and more constructive conversation about the project.  I was really taken by how well teamwork was demonstrated on all fronts.  It has given me a great deal to think about – was it this particular group of girls or was it because they had developed a sense of working together throughout the year on their wiki projects?

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