Having a Letter of Engagement to clarify responsibilities

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a professor at an east coast college with interest in my work on the Gap Finding Project.

**I just want to take a moment to revel in how exiting this is! It’s SO thrilling when your work and thinking grows legs! For a long time, I’ve been hesitant to have an online scholarly presence, but clearly there are benefits to doing so — and this just became very evident.**

We had a dynamic hour long Skype call during which I found out that she was interested in collaborating with me as a Wikipedia expert for an “Blended Learning” grant she received for her course on education, technology and society.

I happily agreed.

My responsibilities include giving a guest lecture in September, helping her develop Wikipedia related assignments, suggesting readings, and advising a small group of undergraduates on critical approaches to Wikipedia as editors and critics. This will be the fourth lecture I’ve given on the gendered politics of Wikipedia as a socio-technical system.

I’ll be one of four experts (the others will focus on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress). The collaborative spirit of the course, and the coupling of skills with critique for understanding the mediated world, is right up my alley. Very excited.

What was incredibly useful was that to clarify our engagement, the professor wrote a “Letter of Engagement.” It reads as a shared document that clarifies responsibilities about our relationship. The letter is particularly useful because this is not volunteer work, rather, l receive a stipend from her grant for my role.

That got me thinking, the five experts involved in the Gap Finding Project will also receive stipends to honor and respect their time and expertise for participating. To ensure that everyone is clear about their responsibilities, I think sharing and signing a Letter of Engagement will be extremely useful. We haven’t had the project yet, so there’s still time to do so. I’ll draft one and share.

I’m inspired by the new collaboration. I will bring back what I’m learning to my own project, share with others who may develop similar projects, and possibly incorporate this my future teaching.

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