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  • SN-0065 Fostering Discussion and Collaboration Around a Central Topic

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Fostering Discussion and Collaboration Around a Central Topic

Collection Date: March 13, 2009
Scholar #1 Info: (if more than one scholar's process is described, copy this set for each scholar)

  • Name: Deniz Gokturk
  • Email:
  • Title: Associate Professor of German
  • Institution/Organization: UC Berkeley
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor: German Studies

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Rich Meyer
  • Email:
  • Title: Project Bamboo Program Manager
  • Institution/Organization: University of California, Berkeley
  • Name: Connor Riley
  • Email:
  • Title: Graduate Student Researcher, School of Information
  • Institution/Organization: University of California, Berkeley

Notes on Methodology:

The collectors recorded this interview; delineated various workflows discussed in the interview and wrote them using quotes from the interview. These were then reviewed and edited by the interviewee before being posted.


The scope section is provided by the collector, with input from the scholar(s), and attempts to estimate the scope of the group that performs the processes described: How broadly do the practices described in this narrative apply to others in same field, in related fields, etc?

  1. In the opinion of the scholar, who participates in the process the story describes?
    (e.g. "just this scholar", "many people in the scholar's field of inquiry", "all academics", etc.)
  2. What is this process intended to accomplish for the scholar?
  3. Who is the intended audience of the processes described?
  4. Is this the only process the scholar uses to accomplish his/her goals?
  5. What "shared services" would help transform the story into something of more benefit for the scholar or his/her audience?  What process or processes in the story could be automated?


2. Suggested keywords: Does this narrative contain elements that could be mapped to these keywords?  If so, please indicate which ones and briefly describe the mapping.  Add any additional keywords in #3. (These are global keywords from this page keywords)

3. Please list additional keywords here:


Within the German department, I am the co-ordinator of the Multicultural Germany Project, which maintains a website to compile a growing bibliography, filmography, and chronology, as a companion resource to the book Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005 (University of California Press 2007),a collection of documents that presents post-war German history through the lense of migration, published by members of the project. Currently this website only allows readers to participate by sending us an email. However, we would like to get readers more involved in discussion of the book and associated materials as well as collaboration in gathering information. We have been discussing how best to improve this capability, as keeping the discussion focused and moderated is important. We have considered starting a blog, but having an open blog with open comments might easily sprawl out of hand and pose challenges in terms of structuring. 
My existing model for fostering discussion comes from using  the book Germany in Transit in my teaching. Every week, we cover a chapter of the book, after which students visit the course's website on BSpace where there is a section of a forum dedicated to the topic of that chapter. Students can post their responses to the readings and discuss them with each other. Students also post additional materials such as links to current news articles, images, sound bites, or film clips. The course thus compiles a collaborative archive over the course of the semester. This discussion informs my teaching by letting me know where people are in the material and what interests them. 
I like that the forum discussion can remain structured by using the structure of the class. The students are also required to post a certain number of reponses, which I think helps get them into the spirit of the discussion; usually they will go a step beyond just posting what's required and engage in exchanges with each other. 
One problem I have with BSpace in trying to keep up with and moderate the forum is that it doesn't tell me what discussion threads have new posts when I log in. The home page of the course website just specifies the number of new posts. I and my students have to go into the forum and search for the thread with new posts in order to figure out what's going on with the discussion.

The question is whether this model for a discussion forum could also be used for the public website, or how it would need to be adjusted for an open exchange, which does not have the cohesiveness built through face-to-face meetings in the classroom.


As a forum moderator, the ideal way for me to keep up with conversations would be able to easily track activity of individual threads. This would be helpful as part of BSpace, as I could follow my students' discussions, and as part of the Multicultural Germany Project site, so that I and any other administrator could periodically check on what people were posting. 
Overall, the Multicultural Germany project is in need of some major additions to allow visitors to the site to contribute. I would like to have a discussion forum, which could be structured around the book and other major topics arising from current news and research. Additionally, I think readers should not only be able to comment on the films in our filmography and titles in our bibliography, but collaborate in expanding the archive and upload additional sources to the site. 

Other Comments:

The information below was comprised when transcribing the interview, to make sure pieces were not missing.  If it is unhelpful, please disregard.


Decide on discussion topic 
Use structure of discussion topic (book chapters, course outline) to create subforums on BSpace 
Post reading reponse prompts if necessary 
Wait for new posts by community 
Look through forums and threads for location of new posts 
Read new posts and discussions 

Ingredients: Tools and Content Book, Germany in Transit: +
Multicultural Germany Project website: 
Course outline 
Collaborative archive of news articles, images, sound bites, film clips 
BSpace forums 



Example Link