Ok – the fishbowl accomplished much (even though there was no formal decision-making process since we got started with it so late in the session).

Defining the target audience was the first task taken up by Fishbowl K. Instead of aiming “out” to a particular demographic of any kind, the proposal was made to imagine ourselves as the audience. No formal decision-making process was undertaken on this point, however the theme was raised several times in a variety of ways. Also repeated often was the need to form smaller working groups, divvy up the labor, and get going already! (I exaggerate the urgency for effect; the energy seemed more tired than actually impatient.)

Target: “us as a group working together,” “what we put together shows us; will show what we have learned,” “if the scope is narrow, we increase the chance of success,” “breaking down into smaller pieces doesn’t mean the audience will be smaller,” “other people will be looking at us,” “how I fit in, my affiliations,” “expressing our own niche,” “how we survived UMass – we are surviving it!” A 360° view.

Content is still a bit vague but we’re getting closer with the idea of everyone bringing in what has been their own personal main interests while here at UMass. The labeling still seems difficult, for instance “personal page” really isn’t intended to be like myspace or such. More like, “each of us represents a bigger group at UMass,” so find who you’ve got connections with in-class and work with the “dynamic among each other,” showing off our own diversity with a focus on how we work together.

Structure: didn’t get that much attention but some ideas were tossed out, such as imagining a format like a magazine, “the wiki itself [being] like a fishbowl,” and having a randomly generated ‘front page,’ like wikipedia. Debate was broached about whether we need to have a coherent scope before beginning subgroup work, or whether starting the subgroup work will lead us in the direction of a absolutely clear goal. It was suggested that a subgroup who is particularly interested in the content of the course could develop a mission statement of some kind, meanwhile individuals should make decisions within their subgroups.

Most students in the fishbowl seemed ready to shift the focus away from a primary concern with audience-as-someone-else to a more “inward” look at ourselves and each other. A question that was originally raised in the negative as a concern, “I don’t know what I can say to you about ____ that you don’t already know or would want to know,” could (?) be turned around to serve as some kind of measure for what to put in the wikiwebsite:

What do I want to say (tell, show, etc) to you (my groupmates) about

my life and learning here at UMass and/or in this class?

So far, I’ve emphasized the agreements and packaged them accordingly. A disagreement was aired concerning a narrowing of the target audience from incoming undergrads to just us. Several attempts were made to accommodate this view, including it being fine if anyone wants to focus on an external audience – this could be their thing. Doing so would represent part of the diversity of the group, and even be an illustration of things we’re learning in the class. Explanations were offered such as “not necessarily writing only to the class, because other people will still read” depending upon their interests. Each “page” (or each subgroup’s work) will draw certain audiences and other pages/work will appeal to different audiences. Someone argued that keeping the audience large would actually work against us being creative.

Finally, evaluation was brought up at the very end. Do you want to count hours as a way to assess quality of work? Is this a fair way to assign grades?

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