What type of knowledge building activities do you see going on in these different sites?
First, I see wikis as offering an opportunity to collectively and collaboratively work on an assignment that lends both an sense of individual responsibility and achievement as well as a sense of belonging to a community or something larger than what they are. To gain a sense of “what I say matters” and can be acted upon by someone else/impacts someone else is a large lesson to learn. This really hit home with me in the Davis site, The Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach. Additionally, I also see Wikis as being another tool to lend a voice to the student regardless of their geographical location, level of social interaction, or time zone. The Flat Classroom Project is a really interesting site to explore for it shows in a real and practical way how to connect past the four walls of the classroom. Finally, I see a wiki as becoming a resource of class creation but also as an archival tool for previous wikis created…may be a good example of what to show later classes for how to do a wiki or share information about what the wiki was about.
How do you see the quality of knowledge building being monitored in large public wikis and the smaller wikis?
According to the McCrea discussion in The Journal: Wiki-Centric Learning was the fact that simultaneous editing was hard for large groups and could not accommodate multiple users at once but did recommend GoogleDocs instead. However, with a smaller group, wikis were easy to manage and edit with accommodate simultaneous users.
One of the interesting thoughts I read in The Journal: Wiki-Centric Learning was the discussion of wikis vs GoogleDocs. As a result, I look around on the internet and found this interesting wiki about this very topic, Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs: Which one is right for your lesson?, and a comparative table for types of lessons, Blogs, Wikis, Docs: Which is right for your lesson? A Comparison Table.
It is very timely for me that the topic this week is wikis. In the tools we have discussed, we have moved from sharing of content to working on that content in a collaborative way. I just had a conversation with a fellow professor in my department on his recent experience using Goggle Docs (not a wiki, but I’ll discuss that later). The course that he was using the tool for involved assigning a unique species to each student for a project, but they were allowed to choose the one that they preferred. In Goggle Docs, students could go and claim a particular species and then no other student could chose that species for their own project. He couldn’t believe how much easier this was to the old method of receiving multiple emails to sort through or having the students post within an ANGEL discussion board. I then proposed that he continue to use Goggle Docs for student posting of their projects as that would allow the students to encourage each other in their learning. This is a summer course, so it should be interesting to watch how it evolves. Coming from a scientific research background, I can imagine how this tool could be used in writing and editing journal articles. When I was writing journal articles in the late 1990s, we would email with the multiple authors of the article to work on editing. This was an excruciating slow process and made it difficult to track changes.
I began to wonder in our readings this week, how Goggle Docs compares with wikis. I found a youtube video from a presentation by Chris Penna that helped to compare and contrast wikis and Goggle Docs. I have virtually no experience with wikis beyond reading them (although I see I will soon use wikis in this class!), so this video explained the greater ability for collaboration with wikis and Goggle Docs, but which tool to chose would depend on the nature of the lesson plan. Is a final product webpage with links desired (wikis) or a document (Goggle Docs)?
A few points stood out to me in the readings for the week. In the piece by Vicki Davis, a major advantage of using a wiki over a synchronous tool such as a chat was that you could work on something together, even if members of the community were in different time zones. An additional point that seemed crucial to the nature of a wiki was that you shouldn’t use the pronoun “I” in a wiki since a wiki is for “we” because it is a collaborative work. In the Schweder and Wissick reading, I explored many of the wikis described in the article. I hadn’t considered the ability of wikis to organize websites in the way that was described, almost as a collaborative bookmarking tool. I immediately thought of an application for this in my own college committee work, as we recently updated a college webpage on Professional Development opportunities for fellow faculty. A wiki would work so much better for this, as any member of the committee or the campus community can update the offerings without the training or permissions necessary to update a college webpage. Those opportunities that are off campus can also include the appropriate links. I’m so excited about this possibility that I just sent off an email about it!
In smaller communities using wikis, maintaining proper use seems easier. In the McCrea reading, Valerie Burton described how it became easier to monitor the wiki with time and experience. As with other tools we have learned about, a good recommendation would be start small and gain experience with using wikis before rolling out a huge project. Figuring out how many students works best for each wiki or part of the wiki will probably depend on the task and student age and skill level. In the larger communities, it was easy to see in the article What Wikipedia Is Not that many of the guidelines for use were determined with time and experience. Some issue that was not anticipated caused the creation of a new guideline.
I look forward to learning more about using wikis as we move through the course.
Wiki’s seem like such a neat tool to use when collaborating as a group on a project. I like that wiki’s help students to work together to derive meaning from the research they are doing on a particular subject. From the readings, I believe there are many benefits to using wiki’s in the classroom.
First, wiki’s allow students to feel comfortable contributing to their group project. Wiki’s allow every student to have a “voice” or input when researching and documenting the information the group is collecting. Also, students are able to not only collaborate with members of their group, but they can collaborate and gain insight from other students or professionals who live around the world.
Another benefit of using wiki’s is that the quality of research that is done by students increases. When viewing the websites from before and after on the University of Michigan Chemistry page, it is evident that student learning had occurred because of the extensive information, links, and references that were included into the after-edit pages. Knowing that students will be required to cite, link, and reference their sources brings the research and learning level to a heightened bar. Even if students are unsure of a source or information, they can work as a team to make decisions on what finally goes into their wiki project. One important point is that students need to know when it is appropriate to edit another student’s work. I liked that the first article we read, The Art of Using Wiki pages to Teach, reminded us of the rules of editing. We need to be respectful of other languages and other’s input. However, by working in the collaborative setting, we can make decisions as a team to decide what is valuable.
Finally, I liked that wiki’s allow users to organize information they are collecting. One thing that I noticed from the Wikipedia pages I looked at was that there were tags at the bottom of the pages to link them to other sources. We learned earlier in the course that there is a benefit to having students tag and classify information for organization. Wiki’s would also foster this type of atmosphere as students work to cite sources, share information, and link to other relevant pages.
Although the typing skills and the computer/internet navigational skills of my second grade students may be minimal, I believe that wiki’s still could be used within my second grade classroom to some capacity.