Daily Archives: June 14, 2013

Week 6 Wikis and Learning

What type of knowledge building activities do you see going on in these different sites?

According to The Power of Wiki’s text, educational wikis are grouped into four different categories: “Collaboration, sharing, organization, and instruction”. Under the category titled “Collaboration”, I found professional development to be one of the examples discussed. I found this specific example to be a useful one. I had never considered this as a possible use for a wiki. In the text, “Solomon and Schrum suggest having educators use wikis during professional development sessions to create district wide or statewide technology-based lessons and district-level technology plans” (p. 58). I believe this is such a powerful idea for school districts. When I attend professional development days, my colleagues and I take our own notes that end up getting filed away and never really discussed among us. If we were to create a wiki for these types of situations, we could engage in meaningful discussions and it would be a great place to store notes, ideas, and resources for future use. This would be a great organizational tool that would also get teachers comfortable with the use of wikis so that they can maybe someday use them in their classrooms as well.

I also believe that sharing technology plans and lessons could really go a long way. When you have multiple educators working on shared lesson plans, you would be able to bring brains together and hopefully come up with engaging lessons. These plans could also be easily adaptable. Another knowledge building activity taking place on wikis includes students learning and working together with students all over the world. It is very motivating for students to not only edit something with a group or with a student in their class or school, but knowing that they are a small part of something really large and great would be a very rewarding learning experience for some students.

McCrea shares with the reader in Wiki-Centric Learning that everything created for the wiki is archived by year for future referencing. I believe this allows teachers to model assignments, students can be inspired and figure out “what works”, and this also is beneficial because teachers are able to set high expectations.

My concern with the use of wikis is when trying to use them in a primary classroom. I teach 5-6 year olds who are just learning the basics when it comes to using a mouse, a keyboard, etc. I believe I could use a wiki as a sharing tool for parents, administrators, other educators, etc. but I can’t see the perks for using a wiki over a blog or traditional website for something like this (in my classroom). The one thing that I instantly thought of was using it to sign up for conferences, supplies, volunteering days, etc. so that parents can edit at home. Maybe as I become more comfortable with using it myself I will become more creative and think of new ways to possibly use this Web 2.0 tool.

How do you see the quality of knowledge building being monitored in large public wikis and the smaller wikis?

The smaller more personal/classroom wikis are monitored by just a few, while larger public wikis have numerous people working hard to keep “What Wikipedia is Not” true.  I was anxious to do the readings and researching for this week’s topic since it is the one I am least familiar with- especially from an educator’s standpoint. I honestly learned more about the ins and outs of a wiki through the “What Wikipedia is Not” site. Although I felt all of the information was interesting and worth reading, I especially liked the “Wikipedia is not a crystal ball” section. It is important to realize that opinions, thoughts, speculations, rumors, announcements, etc. are not a part of a wiki. Before learning about wikis this week, I had associated them along with blogs. I now cannot group them together! As I read in The Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach, Davis pointed out that you never use “I” on a wiki. It is highlighted that there is ONE voice. Blogging is for “me” and wikis are for “we”. Sidenote: I LOVED the “This Page in a Nutshell” summary and icon at the top. I thought that was fantastic!


Wikis and learning

What type of knowledge building activities do I see going on in these different wiki sites?

Wikis make future reference easy. Prior-years’ work remains, archived rather than deleted. This aspect offers advantages in the classroom. Imagine that each year a former student acts as a TA for current students. This student embodies the collective wisdom from the year before, and they can conveniently call on his experiences. Wikis offer this kind of knowledge building. From a teacher’s perspective, this resource is great! It allows the teacher to bring students up to speed faster. Davis agrees: “There’s much less of a learning curve for students… who can see how others have handled specific assignments and projects and then come up with their own ideas.” Besides, students tend to learn well from their peers, who put together the information on the wiki.

Knowledge building with wikis occurs in other ways, too. Davis used them to bridge cultural gaps. Connecting with students from around the globe, wikis empower students to collaborate with peers with different cultural backgrounds and worldviews. Sharing, similar to the way conference speakers distributed materials at the professional conference (Schweder & Wissick, p. 58), is another powerful use of a wiki. It helps organize and share bookmarks quickly and easily, as in the user interface requires little to no IT experience. Just as breezy is updating these resources. Classroom teachers would organize in a similar fashion: store materials in one place as well as any enriching resources such as applets. Thirdly, through editing, students’ grammar and writing skills improve when using a wiki. Editing the electronic encyclopedia affords them the opportunity to fix their peer’s grammatical errors, which are germane to their generation and thus are highly relevant to their stage of learning.

No matter the usage, wikis accomplish one of my favorite goals of technology: individualized instruction that gives a voice to the shier students in my classes. In general, anyone from anywhere can contribute, even community members (Schweder & Wissick, p. 57). Bringing their expertise and real-world views into the classroom makes wikis even more appealing for educational use.

How do I see the quality of knowledge building being monitored in large public wikis and the smaller wikis?

Wiki juggernauts like Wikipedia.com comprise a team of dedicated volunteers who monitor the site. No voting occurs to settle disputed information; consensus through discussion determines validity. Smaller or more localized wikis – such as those used in classrooms, for particular projects among school districts, and so forth – operate under the same principles (five pillars) while a smaller number of individuals manage the site.

Wiki Caveat & Lesson-Worthy Ideas

“One challenge Davis has run into when using wikis involves simultaneous editing and the fact that the tools aren’t made to accommodate multiple users all at once. ‘This isn’t the technology you want to be using if you have 20 students trying to edit one page,’ said Davis, who suggested Google Docs for that type of work.”

“The online collaboration tool recently served as a catalyst between Burton’s students, and a classroom in Germany. ‘My kids posted information about themselves, and the German students did the same,’ said Burton. ‘Then, they used the collaborative nature of the wiki to comment and give feedback on each other’s pages’” (Wiki-Centeric Learning).

Conducting a professional development sessions is no different than planning a learning experience in any other kind of classroom. Schweder & Wissick (2009) recommend using a wiki while teachers participate in professional development (p. 58). Capturing the information from the session – whether that includes teaching tips, useful website links, PowerPoint presentations – teachers can catalog their experiences while learning the technology. Integrated it into their learning experiences sounds like a promising way to acclimate teachers to the technology and pacify their trepidations in using it in their classrooms with their students.