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Produsage 1: Executive Functioning Deficit Resources Wiki
My first Produsage assignment is a wiki for individuals affected by Executive Functioning Disorders (EFDs) to share how they use technology to overcome some of the issues brought on by EFDs. The wiki may be found at http://portfolio.ginaminks.com/moodle/mod/wiki/view.php?id=3&username=guest. If you do not have an account and are prompted to log in, please log in as a guest. Executive functioning (EF) is the brain function that helps people organize their activities, change plans if the situation changes, think abstractly to anticipate outcomes and plan for any situation, and suppress inappropriate behaviors. People with EFDs have problems because their facility for executive functioning is limited. A person who is having problems with EF may seem lazy or stubborn because they did not do simple planning so a project wouldn’t fail. Or if things do not turn out as they thought they should, the person may behave in an inappropriate manner (crying, shouting and storming off, etc). EFD is many times co-morbid with other things such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, depression, schizophrenia, AD-HD, and autism spectrum disorders. My goal in creating the wiki was to find ways people are using technology such as cell phones and the Internet to minimize the effects of living with an EFD. I concentrated on the Asperger’s community because I have many contacts in that
community. Since people have to find personal ways to compensate for the effects of an EFD, I believe the community can teach each other better ways to use technology if each person shares what works for them personally.
I created the wiki in a Moodle instance that I have installed. I decided to use my Moodle instance for a couple of reasons. First, I did not want advertisements on the wiki, which is what I would have had with a free wiki site such as Wikispaces. Secondly, I am interested in growing this wiki longer than the time period allotted to the course. I felt encapsulating it inside a Moodle instance about Asperger’s Syndrome may be a nice foundation for a “learnscape” about Asperger’s. Creating the wiki within the Moodle space presented some challenges. First of all, when users click on a direct link to the wiki they are brought to a Moodle log in page. Even though there is an option to sign in as a guest, the log in page is very confusing. It makes it seem like you have to sign up for an account just to look at the wiki. I was able to fix this by adding the guest login credentials to the URL I shared with people. I also pre-staged the wiki. I created a few pages based on what I would like to see happen with the wiki. In my experience, people won’t participate if they don’t see a familiar template. I put verbiage on the pages so people know they can add or change things if they have a better idea of how the information should be presented. I announced the wiki on Twitter and on my class blog, but that did not seem to bring many visitors to the wiki. I also blogged about the wiki on my main blog, which has a healthy readership (almost 300 subscribed readers). My main blog is also fed into Twitter and Facebook, further expanding the scope of the announcement.
I have had positive feedback from folks in the autism community about this wiki, so I believe that I will have good participation. In fact, the main page of the wiki has already had 81 views since I announced it five days ago. However, I think the 90 – 9 -1 rule will apply in the case of actual edits to the wiki. I will have to build up a community of lurkers before I am able to find the 10% that will actually contribute new content to the wiki.
I believe people will use this wiki because I have looked for this sort of information to help my daughter, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and it does not exist. My experience has been that the parents of children on the autism spectrum have had to support each other, as the insurance industry and academic intuitions do not know how to help our children. As my daughter has crossed over into adulthood, the support from traditional sources has pretty much disappeared completely. I have always relied on the support groups made up of other parents going through similar experiences that I have found online. Because “the old limits on sharing information have changed” (Shirky, 2008) I don’t have to be satisfied with the strategies educational institutions or insurance companies have to deal with people on the autism spectrum. I can talk to other parents in similar situations, and share the success stories of what we have tried in an effort to make life better for our children. Not only can I hear from other parents, but individuals on the autism spectrum are using the Internet to explain their experiences as adults. Some in this community are not shy about telling “neuro-typicals” (people who are not on the spectrum) how suggested minksg Page 3 2/26/2010
strategies are actually counterproductive to an Aspie’s (a person with Asperger’s Syndrome) well-being. I hope these individuals will share what technologies they use in their every day lives to deal with EFDs. This group is actually why I wanted to have some control over the members of the wiki. Some in this group have been so hurt by the actions of neuro-typicals that they are militant towards anyone who may disagree with them. Shirky talked about the negative effects of freedom to organize (Shirky, 2008). My intention is to make a place where everyone can share ideas on how to organize technology. I will be uncomfortable if I am put in the place of moderating conflicts between parents and militant Aspies. My biggest hope for the wiki is quite selfish. I’m hoping it turns into a project that resembles what Bruns described: “a unified, single project devoted to the compilation, synthesis and extension of representations of human knowledge about the world” (Bruns, 2008). Specifically, I hope to create a single project that my daughter can use to find technology aides that will help her cope with her own issues with EFDs.
Bruns, A (2008). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and beyond: From production to produsage. New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Shirky, C (2008). Here comes everybody. New York, New York: Penguin Group.