Profiting from rejection, or, I’m going to Portugal!

WikiSym poster

Earlier this summer, I wrote up a short paper based on my wikified class notes assignment, and sent it off to WikiSym 2008 as a research paper proposal.  This was, in retrospect, overly ambitious: The “research paper” section really is for people working on theoretical or empirical approaches, or on developing new systems, and my paper was really just a version of, “hey, here’s an interesting way you can use wikis in a lit class!”  So, the paper was rejected.

I will say, though, that it was rejected in a really classy and useful way.  Mark Bernstein, from Eastgate, is program chair for WikiSym 2008, and he’s developed a full series of guidelines for how to vet conference proposals.  You can read it here.  Rather than just a flat rejection, I got comments from 4 or 5 members of the program committee, explaining *exactly* why it was rejected.  (In part, it was the fit issue described above; others pointed out, correctly, that as yet there’s not a mechanism for comparing its effectiveness to other approaches.  One or two also pointed me to useful references in other disciplines.)  What that actually left me with was a clear revision plan for sending the paper out to a different venue (e.g., one orientated toward teaching, especially English) for publication.  It was certainly the most productive rejection I’ve ever received.

But the coolest bit happened next, when Bernstein e-mailed me a day or two after the rejection and invited me to lead an OpenSpace session on wikis in education.  (You can see an early draft of the program here.)  It should be an exciting three days, and I’m hoping to come back with some excellent ideas for incorporating wiki-style approaches into my courses.  Full reports, naturally!  (Oh, and did I mention it’s in Porto?)

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