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.