My experiment to use my wiki to collaboratively write a “Mentoring Handbook” with my colleague Roger is nearing completion.

It was a good method for working on this kind of project–but it wasn’t really that great of a project to be working on.

We’re pulling together a lot of information from my typed notes and some of those giant post-its produced at a one-day retreat, and the handbook is really only coming into existence because the dean wants it to.

A Mentee?But there’s no real evidence that a handbook for the process of mentoring is needed or wanted, and we don’t really have any kind of formalized mentoring process or structure in place at the college for the handbook to describe, and I’m not entirely convinced that the process of mentoring really needs a handbook, and I can’t say I’ve had much luck with either being mentored, or being a mentor, myself in my own career–so the handbook (like the notes) really mainly covers the content of mentoring (what mentors and mentees should discuss, or what mentors should tell mentees–and will I ever stop envisioning a sea cow, or dugong, when I read that word “mentee”?), rather than the process of mentoring.

But using the wiki to divide it up and work on writing the separate pieces and pulling them together was a real flash for me. I think that, especially with a bigger group (and a better project), a wiki could be a very useful tool for collaborative publishing.

Ideally, I’d like to leave the wiki up and open after next week, publish the url in the printed handbook (the dean is really only interested in a printed handbook, although I think I pushed through the idea of an html version against his lukewarm response), and let mentors and mentees continue to add and subtract and change. That’s the true wiki spirit–and would have the chance of producing something actually useful instead of a printed pamphlet which will be thrown in a drawer.