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.