Wiki’s used for learning

Wiki’s have been around for years and when they first came out they did a couple of things really well. As mentioned in “The Power of Wiki’s” article, Wiki’s allow for collaboration, sharing, organization, and instruction. They’ve also simplified what used to be pretty complicated technology into something with a low barrier to entry. What this allowed for was those who used to be intimidated by heavy software tools could now jump right in and get started without much overhead or training.
In terms of knowledge building, I see wiki’s as the “gateway drug” of collaborative technology. They are a great way to introduce the benefits of sharing on the web.

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

Because Wiki’s provide an asynchronous learning environment, there are a plethora of knowledge building activities that can happen at any given point. I love the idea that Wiki’s can facilitate conversation between students in other classes both locally and globally. This type of experience wasn’t even dreamed of just a few years ago. I also really like the archival features of a Wiki and the fact that information can be stored and re-purposed as needed. There is so much learning that can happen just from understanding the path that others have taken in the past and building on what they’ve learned.

I thought it was really interesting to see Wiki’s being used for things like professional development and curriculum planning. What a great idea to invite the community to share in the curriculum planning for the students. I’m sure that the parents feel more involved with their children’s education and in turn, the teachers are able to crowd-source some of their work to others. Unlike blogs, where the author is one uneditable voice, Wiki’s provide an opportunity to hear from many perspectives and that can be priceless.

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

I think that the quality of the knowledge being built on both small and large Wiki’s is pretty comparable in a lot of respects. With larger Wiki’s, you have the power of numbers. More people are exposed to the information posted and therefore there is more opportunity for someone to pick up on any mistakes or misinformation. The downside is that it may be harder to discern which voice to listen to since people can post to public Wiki’s anonymously.

Smaller Wiki’s are typically maintained by a handful of invested individuals that care about the information being posted. It is in there own best interest to keep the information accurate and up-to-date. The downside to this method is that when you have one standout voice on a Wiki it can start to sound much like that of a blog and lose the benefit of others perspectives.

5 thoughts on “Wiki’s used for learning

  1. Phil

    @Courtney – good point on the continually changing nature of wikis. As a tool or feature how helpful do we find the Revision Hostory? In what ways for example does it constrain collaboration? In what ways might it help? I also wonder how many students use it?

  2. Eunsung Amii

    I have never used wikis before with my students. However, I am sure that they will love to work with other students from other classrooms inside/outside of the school and all around the world. Except for some students in school, most of my students have not even talked with other school students. The chance to collaborate with many students all around world may motivate students to more actively participate.

    I also enjoyed the reading, the power of wikis. Like you explained, wikis can be a powerful tools for professional development. Teachers are not able to teach students and convey all the contents alone anymore. We should accept the fact that students can find better information online and edit pages with us. I think it will be one of good ways for us to develop ourselves too.

  3. Justin Montgomery

    Barrier to entry, as you eloquently put it, is a formidable fear that keeps teachers away from learning new technologies. Seasoned veterans of the education profession are sometimes jaded, too; they’ve seen many trends in education come and go. With a small learning curve, teachers can put their trepidation aside and leverage the advantages of wikis in the classroom (collaboration, sharing, organization, and instruction as mentioned in your post from the “Power of Wikis” article). “Hearing from many voices” versus hearing from “one uneditable voice” is a key advantage. With the global, collaborative nature of the modern work force, students need to learn using these kinds of Web 2.0 tools that foster idea swapping and shared problem solving. Regarding site monitoring, good points about smaller wikis devolving into a blog due to a standout voice. That real possibility hadn’t crossed my mind.

  4. cnb135

    I’m interested to see where wikis can be used for professional development too. I think as teachers we always expect the “expert” to be teaching us but it will be interesting to see how we can collaborate on these sites as well as the students. I could be cost effective for the districts too considering the time and money constraints we already have!

    I’ve found the downside of wikis, as I’ve said before, is that they are always changing on you so something that you were sharing and could view edits, etc before is now a paid site where information can’t be shared without paying for it.

  5. Melissa Glenn

    I’m also interested in how wikis can be used for professional development. Wikis seem like a way to skip the middle man, in that you don’t need to send information to a web page administrator to have it posted, you can just post it yourself if you are part of the community. Doesn’t this cut down on the work that everyone has to do? For example, if a school could use a wiki for professional development offerings, when someone has information to share, instead of bothering the web site administrator with an email and waiting for that person to post the information, someone can post it themselves and save time and effort. That makes sense for everyone involved! I see many websites as created and then updated infrequently, while a wiki can be updated easily and often.

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