The Wonderful World of Wikis

Wikis seem to be one of those tools that many people want to use, but how much do they really know about them and do they have the right understanding of best practice involved? What is the best pedagogical way of integrating a wiki into your teaching? Most of the time, educators will use a wiki to conduct group work with their students. A wiki allows for joint collaboration of a webpage, that can be developed over time by a number of people. It can be viewed by many people but can only be edited by people enrolled in the group, those with administrative access to the wiki.

Perhaps the most well-known wiki is Wikipedia, started in 2001.  Wikipedia is a collaborative, online encyclopedia and large collection of information on anything and everything.  Individuals can create an account and then be part of the editing of Wikipedia, which has caused it to have its validity questioned when used as a reference in research.  It could perhaps be considered one of the largest collaborative bodies of online information and it has risen out of the contributions made by over 14 million users.

Wiki platforms and online software allows for many different people to develop their own area for collaborative learning, but what does need to be considered in this venture?  I would suggest that you need to consider this:

1.  Who are the learners who will engage with the wiki?

2.  What knowledge and skills do you wish them to achieve through their interactions with the wiki?

3.  Will it provide equitable opportunity for all learners to learn to their full potential?

4.  How will you prepare the learners for using the wiki? How will you scaffold the activities they complete within the wiki?

5.  What is the end product you wish the see produced?

I believe its important to know how you will use a wiki and what you want all participants to gain from the experience before deciding to implement it.  There are some great websites which will guide you in setting up wikis as well.

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework produced the ‘Designing and Implementing E-learning’ website and on it there is a wiki resource: http://designing.flexiblelearning.net.au/gallery/activities/wikis.htm

The Common Craft website has great introductory videos on many web 2.0 tools, here is one on wikis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY

An Educause article, ‘7 Things You Should Know About Wikis’: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7004.pdf

Wikispaces, online-hosting of your own wikis: http://www.wikispaces.com/

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