Revisiting Creating & Connecting

January 31, 2010 at 7:31 am (blog, podcasting, professional_learning, twitter, wikis)

Just learned about “Schools lost and puzzled with multitasking and ubiquitous media” via heyjudeonline‘s Twitter.  The opening quote goes like this:

“The average young American spends practically every waking minute – except for the time in school – using electronic media.”

This quote reminds me of something that I’ve heard one of my Teacher-Librarian colleagues say the last couple times I saw her: when our students come to school, we expect them to disconnect.  It’s like cutting off their arms!  Yet, as I sit in PD sans laptop or Blackberry or iPhone (not because I don’t want to use the technology but because I don’t have it – it’s difficult to take my desktop PC to PD), taking notes with traditional pen-and-paper technology, the majority of adults there with me do not disconnect.  They are constantly checking their phones or typing away on their laptops.

This made me think about something I blogged way back in March 2008.  It was after I had read a study from The National School Board Association’s entitled “Creating and Connecting” (pdf).  The report talked about non-conformists which I equated to Malcolm Gladwell’s early adopters rather than (traditional) rule-breakers. 

Which brings be back to our highly connected students and how they must disconnect at school.  Up to this point I have been quite grim in this post.  But I see glimmers.  My own experience: If you provide students with engaging real-world tasks or challenges, ones that they know will be published to the world wide web to add to the body of worldly knowledge, they will rise to the occasion.  My most recent experiences were related to publishing Writers’ Workshop pieces (a la Nancie Atwell) and submitting them to a writing contest, a pdf online magazine and a wiki for the world wide web to read.  Knowing that these pieces are for the world, student ensure that their pieces are polished and on time – they don’t want to be the one that hasn’t met deadline (kind of like a traditional newspaper deadline)!

Outside of my own school, I have another middle school example as well as a high school example.  In the first, students are using a version of a Moodle to collaborate on a planetary project – which they learned about in a very official letter to which they were to solve a problem and rise to the challenge.  Many chose to report back via a webpage.  And at this school it is the norm for students to have a variety of differentiated technological and learning style options to demonstrate their learning. 

In the high school setting, both an English teacher and Biology teacher are using Google Apps via a student portal in their paperless classes.  Both teachers commented on how students don’t lose things and always have access via an internet connection regardless of where they are.  Students commented on how they have never felt more organized.  No more missed assignments/handouts if a student has been absent as everything is available via the student portal.  Also, when reading students writing, teachers are able to make revising or editing suggestions in a different color so that it is very evident what the teacher’s feedback is – and it can be compared to the student’s original version as it tracks all changes like a wiki. 

I really can’t believe that it has been almost two years since I initially explored Web 2.0 tools.  Back then I wondered how I could possible be so oblivious to all the tools.  I had heard of blogging and wikipedia and had my own students blog – albeit in a very elementary way.  Until you really immerse yourself in which ever of the tools that you wish for your students to use – be it blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc – you really don’t know their power.  And, this is particularly the case if you don’t interact with people via the social web that is afforded to you as part of these tools – comments from unknown strangers who share similar interests and are compelled by what you say to comment on what you have published to the WWW – kind of like I did today as I haven’t blogged since May of last year!

Yes, students are connected today like they never have been before.  If we do not harness the power of their skills in this area, they will disengage.  They are able to use some of the tools, although, not all consider the benefits and consequences.  At school, we can purposefully engage them in meaningful learning and unassemble the walls that confine us in our classrooms.  The walls come down and the world comes in!


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March 9, 2008 at 4:52 pm (wikis)

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. 

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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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Wikis as Third Spaces

March 9, 2008 at 4:49 pm (wikis)

I came across a discussion of “affinity space” in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (2006):

“Many have argued that these new participatory cultures represent ideal learning environments.  Gee (2004) calls such information learning cultures ‘affinity space,’ asking why people learn more, participate more actively, enage more deeply with popular culture than they do with the contents of their textbooks.  Affinity spaces offer powerful opportunities for learning, Gee argues, because they are sustained by common endeavors … according to their skills and interests, because they depend on peer-to-peer teaching with each participant constantly motivated to acquire new knowledge or refine their existing skills, and because they allow each participant to feel like an expert while tapping the expertise of others.  For example, Black (2005) finds that the “beta-reading‘ (or editorial feedback) provided by online fan communities helps contributors grow as writers, mastering not only the basic building blocks of sentence construction and narrative structure, but also pushing them to be close readers of the works that inspire them.  Participants in the beta-reading process learn both by receiving feedback on their own work and giving feedback to others, creating an ideal peer-to-peer learning community.”

The differences between formal education and affinity spaces were also defined.  Formal education is conservative, static, institutional and bureaucratic.  In contrast, affinity spaces are informal, experimental spaces of innovation.  They change depending on the needs and interests of those involved.  Unlike formal learning communities, affinity spaces allow one to move in and out of the community if it does not meet our needs or interests.  This mobility is not possible in formal learning. 

Even though it is likely that affinity spaces relate more to social networking than they do to wikis, it is interesting to keep in mind how some of the characteristics of affinity spaces are also evident in wikis.  Bringing wikis into the classroom serves to bring some of the innovation and experiential learning into the traditional formal classroom experience.  In wikis students can decide what topics or issues they want to explore, expand upon, explain, discuss or debate, which adds a measure of fluidity and flexibility.   

At his blog of proximal development, Konrad Glogowski talks about Classrooms as Third Spaces.  Instead of explaining how to approach “building online communities,” Glogowski sees it as

“a process of laying the foundations, of ensuring that the online environment…can grow into a vibrant and engaging community characterized by meaningful and personally relevant interactions.  The idea here is to ensure that the students see the online environment as their own – not merely an extension of the classroom, but a place where they are free to interact and write as individuals.”

Glogowski discusses how the community created by students online is similar to a third place, a term created by Ray Oldenburg, a U.S. urban sociologist, referring to informal gathering places in public places.  Instead, Glogowski uses it to refer to the creation of a virtual social environment.  He pointed me to Teemu Arina who also applies the concept of third place to education in this slideshare entitled Serendipity 2.0: Missing Third Places of Learning.  The visuals allowed me to very quickly understand the concepts and how they relate, a liberating rather than domesticating use of computer technology (Subramaniam, 2006).  First place is home.  Second place is institutional such as school.  Third place, according to Oldenburg, is infomal, voluntary and much anticipated.  Wikis have the potential to be a third place for students. 

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Validating the Social Nature of Learning

March 9, 2008 at 4:49 pm (wikis)

Ewan McIntosh (2006), in Coming of Age, writes, “For the current UK classroom socialising is postively discouraged.”  This situation is not unique to the UK, one where “students are programmed to write for the teacher as their audience” (Freedman, 2006).  Rather than go into a lengthy explanation or discussion of why it is important to allow for teachers to allow students to capitalize on the social nature of learning, I will let the quotes speak for themselves.    

McIntosh explains, “I began to encourage socializing offline, in the classroom, and online, on blogs and podcasts, and saw a monumental improvement in students’ work and grades.  He continues by explaining that “students were not doing their work for me, for their parents or even for themselves….they were doing it ‘for their public’ [my emphasis].”  His students public was comprised of 30,000 readers and 11,000 listeners! 

With user-created content, “it’s all about the audience, and the “audience” is no longer merely listening.  No longer satisfied to be consumers of content, today’s audience creates content as well.  The challenge for us as educators is to figure out how to harness that power in a learning context.  The social aspects of these audience-centered technologies, firmly established as powerful tools for creative expression, offer great potential to build community in the context of teaching and learning…” (Horizon Report, 2007)

“The collaborative environment that wikis facilitate can teach students much about how to work with others, how to create community, and how to operate in a world where the creation of knowledge and information is increasingly becoming a group effort” (Braun, 2006).

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The Wiki Connection – Critical Reading and the Writing Process

March 9, 2008 at 4:49 pm (wikis)

Writing process was a part of the culture of my school long before I arrived.  It is something near and dear to my heart.  Many students don’t fully understand the importance of each stage of the writing process until they are immersed in Writers’ Workshop, prewriting, rough copy, revising, editing and final draft, something Nancie Atwell writes about passionately in her book In the Middle.  Schmoker reminds educators of the importance of following up critical reading with purposeful writing.  Wikis allow for both with the added benefit of a real world audience. 

Braun (2006) says, “[o]ften writing on a wiki is reality based” because students:  

  • participate in the process of writing
  • publish for a large audience
  • particularly suited for nonfiction writing

As a result, the large audience has potential to be a large number of readers.  Furthermore, it meets the needs of some boys who prefer non-fiction. 

The Reading-Writing Connection
The critical reading of wikis supports a student’s developing writing skills in a number of ways.  Richardson (2006) says

“students need to read critically first, if they are to find the areas where information is missing or disorganized.  Even though the writing is not their own, they must take it as their own because they have the ability to edit and make it better.” 

This can also apply to critically reading their own wiki contributions.  In doing so: 

  • “teens can analyze information and learn how to decide the accuracy and validity of the information”
  • “they can analyze information in order to determine what makes nonfiction writing readable and interesting”
  • “use technology to practice individuality… [in] their own writing in order to create content that is accurate and readable”
  • “The history feature of wikis has a strong connection to the writing process of editing, revising, and so on.” (Braun, 2006)  

Because of this:

  • readers can compare entries, even side-by side (as a teacher, I love this feature)
  • there is the opportunity to model and discuss how and why revising is important
  • it also addresses the importance of content quality related to conventions including spelling and grammar  (Braun, 2006)

Early in this course, someone suggested using a wiki to document revising and editing of the writing process.  I was intrigued by the idea and have presented it to my students on a couple of occasions.  However, they have been quite reluctant.  Perhaps, now that I have created and particiapted in a wiki, I will be more convincing and they will be less reluctant.  At some point, I have to give them a gentle push to take the risk as well.  I am glad that I waited as my experience now helps me to understand how the process works.  It would not have been fruitful to have a wiki with one page and 30 students trying to edit.  Each would be lucky if they even had five minutes of editing time.  Having explored some examples of how teachers have collaborated in a wiki, I now have a better idea of how I could structure or scaffold a wiki discussion or collaboration for my students. 

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Wikis as Professional Development

March 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm (wikis)

While using and learning about the wiki tool, teachers can start to think about how they might use a wiki in their classroom.  This accomplishes two goals:
(1) practice and comfort
(2) first hand experience of the meaningful use of technology in engaging actvities (Soloman & Schrum, 2007) .

Reading and Research
Even though The Shifted Librarian blog is geared more to the world of public libraries, information from it and the presentations available at The Shiften Librarian Wiki I believe are applicable to school libraries. 

Sharing Curriculum Resources & Best Practices
I like the fact that Curriki provides a global context for sharing resources based on a moral purpose (Fullan).   I think the South African Curriculum wiki is an amazing accomplishment.  As usual, I love anything created by Joyce Valenza’s including her teacherlibrarianwiki

Wikis provide an outlet for student teachers, teachers or librarians to connect with colleagues in wikis dedicated to each: Future Teachers Meet Wiki (Soloman & Schrum, 2007),  Teacher Connect and Library Success.  If you are a one-person department, or even if you are not, this could provide an outlet for collaboration and pedagogical discussion.  For Teachers New To Wikis is part of the larger Writing Wiki (Soloman & Schrum, 2007).  While I like the concept, its visual appearance is not for me. 

Brainstorm, Collaborate & Archive
When I saw a comment at Elizabeth’s write2learnhere blog attributed to David Loertscher, the name was familiar but I couldn’t remember why.  My search led me to AASL Wiki Presentation by Loertscher and Company.  Discussion from 20 tables was summarized into four topics at the bottom of the wiki page: reading, technology, teaching & learning, continuing education.  This provides a model of an alternative way to organize a wiki.

Key Issues for Professional Development “allows participants to collaboratively contemplate their most important topics and ways to further their mission” (Soloman & Schrum, 2007).  I wish I could figure out how they changed the background colors in the table!

Action Research
I just discovered that the Horizon Report has a companion wiki in which educators can contribute thereby supporting the research for next year’s report.  I hope I get a chance to contribute as it would make reading next year’s report that much more meaningful. 

By exploring, contributing or creating wikis, teachers can engage in meaningful learning of yet another web 2.0 tool.  These positive experiences can serve to influence critically-meaningful integration of web 2.0 tools in the classroom.  On a professional level, I think visiting and contributing to a wiki is another way of being a HitchHikr, hitching a conference ride.  It appears to me that many conferences, or their presenters, have a companion wiki which are created before the conference, contributed to during the conference in real time and archived for future reference, discussion and collaboration.  Not only are virtual libraries in physical and virtual spaces, conferences and professional development is as well. 

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The Good, The Bad and the Wiki?*

March 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm (wikis)

The Good

I really enjoy reading The Horizon Report.  The first one I read was from 2006 that Valenza linked to in Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency PowerPoint at informationfluencywiki)I like how it not only outlines the up and coming technologies providing a tentative timeline for adoption, but also goes into a detailed explanation of each including examples.  The 2006 and 2007 editions suggest the following benefits of wikis:

  • ability to review, edit & comment on each other’s work
  • within a few clicks, collaboration on a shared site, which may have been more challenging in the past, benefits everyone who can access and see it, especially in different locations
  • “social aspects of these audience-centered technologies [including wikis], firmly extablished as powerful tools for creative expression, offer great potential to build community in the context of teaching and learning”
  • “using tools for creating…content, teachers can foster collaborative work not only among their own students, but with colleagues, students and community members from around the world”
  • “connect people and facilitate work without the need to consult a central technology support center”
  • “allow[ing] users to…edit it online makes[s] it possible to work from any computer with an Internet connection, and for multiple users to access, view, and work on the same files.  Issues of file format, operating system compatibility, disk storage space, and versioning, all of which can stand in the way of productive collaborative work at a distance, disappear when using server-based shared editing spaces”
  • “The tools allow (and encourage) shared responsibility for development of course resources, links, and materials”
  • “give voice to communities and encourage idea sharing”
  • create an archive of resources and reference material
  • write a collaborative document
  • attend a conference held entirely online 

In Coming of Age, Terry Freedman (2006) identifies additional strengths and uses:

  • brainstorm and record ideas for a project or problem solving
  • contribute knowledge by creating something for others to use 
  • demonstrate the need to verify information
  • demonstrate information ethics and social responsibility – copyright, acceptable use, plagiarism
  • “critical thinking & web literacy e.g. challenging what we find onine and being slow to accept what was found as ‘the truth’.”
  • updated more frequently than print resources
  • peer-reviewed by community
  • represents many viewpoints
  • covers topics not otherwise found in Britannica
  • students write using language that is appropriate to their level; Freedman calls this new language “child-speak.”

Will Richardson (2006) says

“there are vastly more editors that want to make it right than those who want to make it wrong.  So when mistakes occur or vandals strike, the collaborative efforts of the group set it straight, usually very quickly.” 

Richarson also identifies the versatility of a wiki as another benefit. 

“Everyone together is smarter than anyone alone.  In the process, we check facts, provide ‘soft’ security by acting like a community watchdog, and weed out bias and emotion from posts in an attempt to arrive at a neutral point of view….Each entry is the group’s best effort, not any one person’s….Wikipedia is the poster child for the collaborative construction of knoweldge and truth that the new, interactive Web facilitates….if need be, you can easily use the history list to revert back to a previous version of the page should someone come and muck things up.  This…is how most vandalism is dealt with.” 

The use of wikis can fit in with the processes of Focus on Inquiry (pdf).  While a blog works for an individual’s inqiry, a wiki can serves as the archive for a group inquiry.  In particular, a wiki fits with creating and contributing to the body of knowledge and sharing it with the world.  The skills required to do this involve the upper levels of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy: analyzing, evaluating and the new creating.   

Unlike our WebCT discussions, which are very linear, Freedman (2006) says wikis allow for

“short amounts of text [to be] connected by hyperlinks, rather than a lot of text…it enables you to conduct an online discussion without limiting it to students who have a relatively high level of literacy, and without excluding those students who have a visual learning style.” 

I found this interesting on several levels.  Short amounts of text are less intimidating for reluctant readers (those who can read but choose not to) and strugging readers (those that find reading challenging).  The hyperlinks break up the monotony of the text adding an interactive component.  If students are creating their own wiki, they are using a language with which they are comfortable and familiar.  The different ability levels will allow peers to challenge and support each other.  In addition to building in context clues, students could make a glossary that links words to a definition they created and added in their wiki, or link to an online dictionary, to assist with meaning.  I like how the wiki has the potential to meet the learning needs and learning styles of a variety of students. 

How, you ask, are we meeting the needs of visual learners through a wiki that is mainly text based?  An understanding of the non-linear, 3-dimensional text structure of a wiki, requires memory of where one has been, where one is going, and their relationship (Freedman, 2006).  One must construct a visual mind map of internet travels.   Further, by participating in the creation of non-linear content, students will become more adept at navigating this context.

The Bad

  • “ease of and public access to content revision can be problematic”; the “person doing the writing doesn’t have to own up to their changes”; however, “errors and their authors can be uncovered” (Braun, 2006)
  • due to spam, an open wiki is not recommended
  • opinions may be passed off as facts
  • more text based, less capability for images
  • “The danger is that content can be modifed incorrectly to prove a point . . . educators must teach students how to evaluate the accuracy and appropriateness of content”
  • an inhouse technical trouble shooter is recommended for hosted wikis (Freedman, 2006, in Coming of Age)
  • Abuse such as Police chief forces staff to monitor his Wikipedia entry to stop users posting rude comments about him, The Daily Mail, U.K.

Ebay has recently renovated it’s feedback system to “stem the erosion of trust.”  “The original intent of eBay’s public feedback sytem was to provide honest, accurate record of member experiences.”  Instead it backfired, causing retaliation between buyers and sellers.  Consequently, no buyers leads to no sellers.  EBay’s new system aims to put trust back into the system.

“The dealth of self-rule on the internet…is very disillusioning….radically rewriting the constitution of democratic republic of Ebay.  For most of [its] 13 years, EBay has been run largely as a self-policed island, a place where order was preserved less by real world laws than by norms and customs and expectations and reputations that were almost entirely virtual.  Ebayers governed themselves…” (Patti Waldmeir quoted by Nicholas Carr).  

What does this have to do with wikis?  Carr says,

“It follows a common pattern thay we’ve seen play out in other ‘social production’ sites like Digg and Wikipedia….As these sites grow, keeping them in line requires more rules and regulations, greater excercise of central control.  The digital world, it seems, is not so different from the real world.”

First, it is important to point out that Carr is an editor of Britannica’s Editorial Board of Advisors and writes for Britannica Blog, where this post originates from.  With the advent of Wikipedia, Britannica’s use has been on the decline.  Despite this, I think it is important to keep in mind in the context of our own school-created wikis.  Start small.  Keep it manageable.  Have students discuss and set the parameters, or netiquette, of what is acceptable and what is not (Lee & Berry, 2006, in Coming of Age).  If they create it, rather than being told, they will own it and be more likely to follow it.  They can be done in a wiki.  Closed wikis, that require a password to edit, or private ones, that no one can see except for registered users, are less likely to be tampered with.  Should questionable content be included, it would be the perfect time to review the parameters the community defined for itself.  However, in the reading I have done about the use of closed and private wikis in schools, tampering is virtually non-existent, most likely because student names are attached to the editing.    

The Wiki?

*The title of this blog post, “The Good, The Bad and The Wiki?” is a play on “the good, the bad and the ugly.” However, this is not the “ugly section.”  Rather, here I want to connect to some larger themes that further serve to support the use of wikis and other social software in teaching and learning. 

Richardson (2006) says

“Wikis pose some pedagogical challenges…. They can be so effective at fostering collaboration that the teacher really needs to carefully examine her role in their use.” 

The benefits of wikis and other social software will not magically come to fruition.  I can’t help but connect the use of wikis in the classroom, and other web 2.0 tools, to the work of Carol Kuhlthau and the Karthigeyan Subramaniam (2006) article “Teachers’ mindsets and the integration of computer technology,” British journal of educational technology 38(6), 1056-1071, the discussion of which Simon and I will be facilitating this week. 

It is a delicate balance between freedom, guiding and directing or taking over.  Rather than giving students complete freedom, characterized by the absence of teacher-as-guide, teachers and teacher-librarians must decide when intervention within the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky) will be most beneficial to the learner when using computer technology for learning.   

Richardson articulates it like this:

“early implementation of wikis in educational settings have shown that the more autonomy teachers give to students in terms of negotiationg the scope and quality of the content they are creating, the better.  It’s a very democratic process of knowledge creation.  In using wikis, students are not only learning how to publish content; they are also learning how to develop and use all sorts of collaborative skills, negotiating with others to agree on correctness, meaning, relevance and more.  In essence, students begin to teach each other.  Teachers who impose a lot of right and wrong on the process can undermine the effectiveness of the tool.” 

For me, wikis are a web 2.0 tool that validate the social nature of learning and the creation of third spaces, both of which I discuss in separate posts.  The social nature of learning can be capitalized in the third space online if students are free to take ownership while the teacher skillfully guides maintaining a balance between not enough and too much freedom. 

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Words of Wiki*

March 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm (wikis)

As has become customary in the last few topics, my first post is a collection of terms that I uncovered over the course of my exploration of a web 2.0 tool, in this case wikis.  This week I thought about how my post relates to effective vocabulary instruction.  Research has demonstrated that the majority of words are learned through repeated readings in context.  A glossary dedicated post does not help to understand words in context.  Specifically teaching a manageable number of vocabulary words before reading is a strategy, however, there are far to many to be considered manageable.  I finally came to the conclusion that by posting the glossary first, it actually appears at the end so in the traditional sense it is where it would be in a conventional text.  At any rate, on with the gloassary!   


  • short for wiki-wiki which means quick in Hawaiian (Freedman, 2006; Richardson, 2006)
  • “a term that is used both for a piece of software and for an interactive Web site people use to collaborate online” (Braun, 2006)
  • WetPaint, Seed Wiki and pbwiki (as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich) are other free wiki options
  • examples include WikirecipesWikitravel, PlanetMath or even Star Trek Wiki  (Richardson)
  • Richardson suggested Webnote, virtual post it notes, that allow you to save quotes from webpages you visit, as a form of wiki as anyone can add, edit or delete notes if you share the link
  • “where else can you find so many people who are so passionate about knowledge? (A library, perhaps?)” (Leeder).


  • “online encyclopedia which is created, amended and monitored by members” (Freedman)
  • with 2.2 million articles (Baker, 2008), Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia of choice (Freedman; Badke, 2008)
  • “more people use Wikipedia than Amazon or eBay”
  • people who add content are called editors
  • those who guard the content are called deletionists (Baker)
  • began by absorbing 1911 public domain edition of Encyclopedia Britannica as well as others
  • At the homepage you can access other wikis such as wikibooks, wikiquotes or wiktionary 

Found at the bottom of incomplete wiki articles: “This article about X is a stub.  You can help Wikipedia by expanding it” (Baker, 2008).

unlike Wikipedia which is not-for-profit, Wikia is a hosted wiki option; a company or school hosts a wiki on their server and the community collaborates; examples include Calgary Wiki and Muppet Wiki (Carvin, 2008)


coined by saturist Stephen Colbert meaning “truth by consensus;” also created “truthiness” (Badke); David Warlick weighs in on this topic saying, “The term, TRUTH, has meanings to people that do not seem to fit in with a conversation about literacy.”

compare features of about 100 different wiki providers; Wiki Engines also lists different wiki options

strives to be more accurate than Wikipedia although that is questionable; editors use real names which is optional in Wikipedia

“a ‘wiki’-style supplement to National Geographic magazine’s feature stories.  Each GeoPedia entry provides in-depth background material on a given topic while maintaining National Geographic’s renowned standard of accuracy.  It’s a research tool with valuable links to the best resources.  Here, visitors can learn more about a subject area, ask a question, and submit a link or a story.  User-generated content will be edited by expert editors in the field, such as top researchers, journalists, and professors.” 

I wonder if this is really a wiki?  Or is it, as Tony Dokoupil writes in “Revenge of the Experts” for Newsweek, the dawn of Web 3.0, which adds an editorial layer to the grassroots base?  Does this mark the beginning of the demise of Time’s Person of the Year: You?  Personally, I think revenge is too strong a word to describe what is happening.  Time will tell. 

“wiki tool used by Wikipedia” and other wiki sites; is beginning to include social networking as part of the wiki which will allow for more detailed user profiles (Carvin, March 1, 2008)

Written by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, it “explains how to prosper in a world where new communications technologies are democratizing the creation of value”

Other Related Terms

social software
category comprised of blogs, wikis, podcasts and social bookmarking

social computing
the application of computer technology to facilitate interaction and collaboration; emphasis on social part of social computing (Horizon Report, 2006)

distributed groups
collaborating with people in different places (Horizon Report, 2006)

collective intelligence
“the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal” (Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture)

“affinity spaces”
“informal learning cultures” (Gee (2004), quoted in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture)

organized by the participants in real time in a wiki such as EduBloggerCon

hosted wiki
one that is saved to a locally maintained server rather than a remote web one

Speed or Lightening demos
demonstrate a Web 2.0 tool to a group in 5 minutes or less (from EduBloggerCon)

*a play on “words of wisdom”; no wisdom if words are not understood

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