Wikis in Schools

March 9, 2008 at 4:50 pm (wikis)

Before having students use wikis or create their own wikis, Richardson (2006) recommends that teachers spend time exploring wikis for themselves and I whole heartedly agree.  While doing that, I think it would be worthwhile to practice applying Valenza’s suggested wiki criteria to internalize and be able to model for students:

  • What is the purpose of the collaborative project and who began it?
  • How many people appear to be involved in editing the wiki?
  • Does it seem that the information collected is improved by a variety of participants?  How heavily edited were the pages you plan to use?
  • How rich is the wiki? How many pages does it contain?
  • Does the project appear to be alive?  Are folks continuing to edit it?
  • Does the information appear accurate? Can I validate it with other sources? (From Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency PowerPoint at her informationfluencywiki)

In web 2.0: new tools, new schools, Soloman & Schrum (2007) made additional recommendations for wikis in schools.  I have supplemented with ideas from others.

  • read and explore interests; Braun (2006) expands by suggesting books, movies, TV, books and authors
  • collaborate in groups
  • problem solve
  • peer edit during writing process with class, grade, school, district or world
  • create an electronic portfolio
  • conduct citizen journalism or create primary sources based on their personal first hand documentation of events  
  • Students can conduct a literature circles discussions online, including such topics as summary, author biography, quotes and responses, discussion of themes, etc. 
  • When writing argumentative essays, “the community builds the argument, not any one person” (Allison quoted by Richardson, 2006, p.69).

“Sometimes one tool will work well for one type of project and a different tool will work well for something else.  Wikis are suited for projects in which collaborative teams write, revise, update, and contribute on a regular basis.  Wikis keep track of changes and teachers can monitor progress to see if someone is taking over or if someone isn’t doing his or her fair share of the work.”  Collaborative inquiry can use a wiki to document, archive and reflect on the process by creating a glossary, asking questions, synthesizing new learning and organize their bibliography in a wiki (Braun, 2007).

Richardson (2006), Warlick (2006) and Soloman & Schrum (2007) have all identified the potential of students to create their own wikibook or wikijunior , the web 2.0 version of a textbook, one that future classes would revise, update and make their own.  “Co-construction” would result in a “personalized” text (Richardson).  Not only would it be a reference but also a celebration of the accomplishments of a community of learners.  To be editors, both students and teachers, must be skilled in the process involved in doing this.  Ten thousand Wikibooks were created within the first two years alone.  Richardson adds that “[i]t’s a great opportunity to introduce students to the concepts of open source software, community collaboration, respect for other people’s ideas, intellectual property and public domain…”.

In reading John, Ronda and Cindy’s posts, I realized that I hadn’t linked to any student exemplars of wiki creation.  The Neighborhood School provides an example of a beta-version (still being revised) of their student created code of conduct.    In a previous post, I discussed how poetry would be a good way to learn how to do a podcast.  The same could be said for poetry.  I’ve always wanted to have students write poems that link to each other – where by clicking on a hyperlinked word would take you to another poem that uses that word either in the title or somewhere in the poem.  A wiki would be an easy way to do that.  As you know I’m a fan of the Horizon Project and the same can be said for their Flat Classroom Project which several classmates have already pointed out.  Joyce Valenza links to more examples of student created wikis at her web 2.0 meets information fluency wiki and her new tools for learning wiki page.   

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1 Comment

  1. linda said,

    Thanks for the “wikibooks” connection – I loved the global reach of the multiple languages offered.

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