“A wiki is a website that uses wiki software, allowing the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web pages…Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, and for note taking. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis” (Wikipedia, 2009, p.1).
A few weeks ago I opened an account on a wiki site called Wetpaint, my initially reaction questioned the purpose and usage of this tool. I found that wetpaint confused me with too many functions and gadgets. I was not sure where to start or what to do; I was expecting an easy to follow and workable site. With great disappointment I communicated my thoughts to my colleagues, they were every quick to guide me to Wikis in Plain English (YouTube, 2009) on YouTube. This short film clip was so simple to understand and comprehend its purpose. Through this process I opened an account with Wikispaces and was able to easily work my way through this site. I then used this collaborative tool in completing a group assessment task, but with regular meetings the wikispace was not used to its fullest potential.
Wikis are based on collaborative work, where all members can contribute their ideas and experiences through ICT’s in different locations. In my opinion this tool can be both positive and negative in many forms, especially when used in the professional context of a productive and engaged classroom. If explicitly introduced and taught in this context the advantages will outbalance the disadvantages, but could also have the reverse affect if not implemented appropriately. The learners could be engaged in collaborative work where they all have an input into the drafting and planning process, not just at school but in their own homes. Or they could be completely unsynchronized in their thinking, problem solving and agreeing on, causing a continual circle of adding and removing team members’ inputs and hard work. The quieter and more withdrawn members may be more open to express themselves in nonverbal communicative ways, but would also have a disadvantage on the learners’ social skills. These are the two main concerns and positives out of many factors which could either add to or break learning in the classroom. Creating a learning design with wikis need to have a balance of provided resources and Learner Management support in each activity, as based around Oliver’s (1999) learning design. This balance will allow the Learning Manager to scaffold through every process, ensuring the learners are continually on the right track. Note: the Learning Manager will continually have control over what goes in and out of each wiki and the security options will ensure outsiders have no access to the students’ work.
Wikis could be used as a good collaborative tool in the scenario of the year five unit ‘Around the World in Ninety Days’. In Kearsley and Shcneiderman’s (1999) second phase of “Create” the learners can use wikis to collaboratively identify their itinerary; what countries they could go to, what they could do when they are there, where they could stay, the things they need to do before leaving the country, what they could pack and the problems they could face. Each group has their own wikispace and they all work collaboratively to plan before investigating each country and placing their reflective journey on their group blogspots.
Until my next leaning experience,
Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm
YouTube. (2009). Wikis in Plain English. Accessed July 19, 2009, from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY
Wetpaint.com. (2009). Wetpaint: Where superfans are superstars. Accessed July 15, 2009, from: http://www.wetpaint.com/
Wikipedia. (2009). Wiki. Retrieved July 27, 2009, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki
Wikispaces. (2009). Wikispaces Spaces for Everyone: Get Started. Accessed July 19, 2009, from: http://www.wikispaces.com/