My own exploration, participation and collaboration in the creation of wikis with my peers has proven to be invaluable professional development. It serves as more proof of the invaluable nature of self-directed inquiry and constructivist learning not only for students but also for their teachers. For me, wikis, even more than blogs or social bookmarking, demonstrate the importance of collaboratation as we negotiate content, not only for our own professional learning and the potential for teaching and learning in our classroom, but also in the context of how the proliferation of web 2.0 has affected the nature of the availability, organization and creation of new information, and consequently knowledge, in our culture.
When using a wiki, a presentation or virtual seminar is no longer about demonstrating new knowledge and discussing it. Instead, it is about negotiating the content and the meaning of that content. The process is just as important, if not more so, than the outcome. To use a cliche, “the journey is the destination.”
On the one hand, I feel guilty that I complete the bulk of my web 2.0 exploration on the weekend before the Monday it is due. However, on the flip side of that, I love that I am able to reflect on information that I have read over the course of the week leading up to the weekend that has come through on my blog reader. In a sense, I feel like I am a “citizen journalist” contributing to the the global discussion of web 2.0. Just as “the experts” wrestle with the place of these concepts and ideals in education, so do I.
I think that this is the first time in this course where I really have seen for myself, experienced and participated in a situation where I fully understand the benefits of collaboration using social software and the benefits that social computing affords. It is not that I didn’t understand before because I feel that I did. Rather, I think that the immediacy of interaction with people via the wikis reinforces the learning of the wiki tool faster than the others. It could also be reflective of the culmination of learning up to this point: build blog; explore photo sharing, video sharing, social bookmarking, podcasting, virtual libraries and now wikis. I don’t think I would have understood wikis earlier in the course without the foundation and experience of the other tools.