Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Creating a Learning Wiki

I love wikis. Mainly because they provide an opportunity for anyone or everyone to create an online presence to share, to provoke, to describe, to collaborate. Wikis as we know simply enable anyone and everyone to create content online using easily understandable tools. Many of our P-12 schools are taking advantage of the opportunities for "collaborative construction" that wikis provide. But I love the fact that we can also use them for whatever we need to create online. At the moment I am working on my presentation wiki , Teaching-with-Technology, in preparation for a couple of conferences I am presenting at over the next couple of weeks. My aim is to have all the information that I need and much more on the wiki so that people who attend my workshop will have a type of one stop shop where they can get all of the information that they need. It will contain links for both teachers and students to sites that help them to be organised, collaborate with each other, learn from others, see examples of Web 2.0 being used in the classroom and much more.
Over the next couple of weeks I will continue to build on it and I would love some feedback or suggestions.

6 comments:

Andrew Zeisel said...

I am getting tired of everyone praising the wiki. I talked recently with a friend and he informed me about how practical wikis really are. The whole system has already crashed at least once and it costs a lot of money, you have to pay a yearly fee. I think this cost, which for me was $77, is ridiculous. In a education system were money is being taken away, it is foolish to expect to use such an expensive system. So basically, even though wikis offer a nice new tool, I think it is just another means for big business to turn education into an industry and make money off of the Education System.

The industrialization of education is a great concern for me. I think this has become a growing trend in society and needs to stop. Everywhere we turn, we can see it. Standardize testing, school contracts on learning materials, and new technologies which are being forced upon the next generation of teachers and their students. We need to be very critical of these new advancements, which have basically been put into the mainstream learning process and have produced a uniform education for all students. If I have learned anything this semester it is that learning doesn’t occur in the same way for all students and thusly, grading all students, or expecting the same educational outcome from them is absurd. Students are so different.

But getting back to wikispaces. Teachers should have the choice for what technology they use to teach their students. It is cool to inform students about wikis and other technologies but there are other means which cannot be forgotten. A lot of the benefits of wikis are within other programs as well. We can never be satisfied with one technology and must use our abilities as a consumer to keep things mixed up. We must be really careful with wikis, and not allowing it to become a monopoly on schooling.

Anne said...

Thanks Andrew for your comments and basically I agree with much of what you said. Particularly "We need to be very critical of these new advancements..learning doesn’t occur in the same way for all students and thusly, grading all students, or expecting the same educational outcome from them is absurd. Students are so different."
And then I have to differ slightly because I think that Web 2.0 applications such as wikis, blogs and many more are catering for differences in so many ways simply because of the way they are structured. As teachers we don't expect all students to think and learn in the same way and these new technologies can support those differences. Given that, there are some students who would much prefer to have little to do with technology and they need to be given opportunities to learn in other ways as well.
As far as expense goes, the only expense that our school has to cover is the increased level of internet use because we are using it more. We create all our wikis in the educational section of wikispaces which provides free spaces without advertisements and with extra allowances such as being able to create private spaces.

Suz said...

I don't really understand Andrews concerns about cost for wikis, when there are so many good quality, free resources for education. But we do certainly have to be careful of jumping on every technological bandwagon, both for cost concerns for schools, and the danger of jumping in before really understanding what the benefits may be. I think its important to promote free or low cost resources - I was surprised how many sessions at a recent USA ed conference were related to commerical software (even when presented by the teachers). In our cluster in Australia we are on a big open source kick, and I never present a conference workshop on an activity that requires commercial software. There is nearly always a free alternative...

Anne said...

I would have to agree with you Suz. I know that the presentations that I give these days always have an element of free online Web 2.0 learning opportunities woven into them. It has certainly become the buzz word here in Aust. Having said that though I think we also have to be constantly asking ourselves about the value and worth of some of the online tools that we come across. But I think that is where the online educational community is so valuable. There is always a pedagogical discussion happening somewhere that will keep us on our toes if we choose to particpate.

Ariane Termini said...

I was introduced to wikis for the first time this semester in one of my education classes, and I think they are incredibly useful. I only wish that I had known about them before; they make group projects and collaborations so much easier. My teacher uses them each day in the classroom, and I love being able to go back after class to look over anything that I didn't quite understand or that we went over real quick. I definitely plan to use them in my future classroom. I think that they are a great resource for students and teachers alike.

Laura Gasperik said...

I think wikis are a great tool for teachers. This is my first semester in school where a teacher has used a wiki, and I love it. It makes it easy to follow what is going on in the class, and gives us a place to discuss group projects without having to meet in person. I have been thinking of ways to incorporate it into my classroom, like posting the course schedule and homework online, as well as having an online discussion. But I hadn’t taken it further than that until I read your blog. Now I am thinking about using wikis as a way to keep the parents aware of what is happening in the classroom, to collaborate on projects with other teachers, and as a place to get feedback on current projects that I am working on.