Getting Started with a Wiki

May 31, 2007 · Posted in Web 2.0, wikis · Comment 

Essentially, wikis are web pages that allow users to edit page content collaboratively. The changes are viewable by all visitors to the site. The editing tools are simple–usually resembling tools available in a standard word processor–and require no knowledge of HTML authoring to use. An excellent example of the collaborative power of a wiki can be found in WikiTravel, a free world-wide travel guide capable of being edited and updated by people who have actually experienced travel in various locations. For example, I have edited and added several elements to the section on Florence, Italy, based on my travel there last summer. The result is an up-to-date guide with information contributed by people who have actually been there.

Wikis are excellent tools for educators as well. They provide an easy method to capture content of class discussions from a variety of perspectives and to preserve it for future classes or to post and edit a collaborative document.

A nice illustration of the power of collaboration based on wiki use is available from YouTube.

When to Blog and When to Wiki

All content on a wiki can be edited by any visitor to the site. The best use of wikis is to provide a shared, single-location environment for collaboration and group editing. For example, I use wikis to make notes on class discussions and ask my students to edit or add to the notes in order to capture some of the important topics we discuss. These notes are available for review later or as an information source for future classes.

Content on blogs cannot be edited by anyone other than the author. Blogs also typically feature active comment areas for readers to post comments and answer questions about blog content. Observations posted on blogs are not intended to be edited, but they are intended to engender discussions and questions through reader comments.

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Blogs and Wikis in Teaching

May 28, 2007 · Posted in Blogging, Teaching 2.0, Web 2.0, wikis · Comment 

Still very interested in investigating the idea of evaluating blogs, I recently came across an entry from the TechLearning Blog that caught my attention. An elementary school teacher in Shanghai who blogs with his students had some of his fifth grade students come up with their own rubrics for evaluating blogs. The results are interesting and can be seen on this page.

But once you get there, keep reading. The discussion evolves into a more general discussion of digital writing and wikis, with some interesting remarks from a high school social studies teacher who uses wikis to help students understand complex concepts through collaborative wiki writing.

In many places in the discussion, the term “Teaching 2.0” is mentioned. Here is a quote from the Techlearning Blog about the nature of Teaching 2.0:

“Teacher 2.0 puts students at the center of the learning experience; they [sic] allow students to control the learning environment and create content that contributes to the global body of information. Teacher 2.0 creates an environment that allows learning to happen. They [sic] guide students by engaging in conversations either virtual or face-to-face.Teacher 2.0 understands that learning occurs when every member of the class is both a student and a teacher. That teaching and learning goes beyond the walls of the physical classroom. [sic] Teacher 2.0 understands that content is ever changing; therefore focusing on skills that help us understand the changing nature of content is more critical than the content itself. Teacher 2.0 is caring, compassionate, and is willing to take risks.”

I am not aware of the term “Teaching 2.0.” I’m going to investigate it more. Perhaps it will become the focal point of another blog entry.

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