Sunday, March 9, 2008

Wikis

Hooray for Wikis!

I love this Web 2.0 tool…It is easy to use and very beneficial socially and academically.

To start off my exploration of wikis I watched “Wikis in Plain English.” Although I did have a limited amount of experience in wikis, this video put it all into perspective. The example set out was easy to follow and allowed me to understand how a wiki was more beneficial for collaboration than e-mail. Once I figured out how wikis could be used I immediately started exploring wiki sights to begin assignment #2. The following are wikis (recommended by the video mentioned above) that I perused to figure out what I would use:
www.pbwiki.com
www.wetpaint.com
www.wikispaces.com

I liked the way that www.wetpaint.com had a video that showed you how wikis and their site worked.
I find these videos very beneficial, more so than written instructions. www.wikispaces.com was great as well, although it bothered me that you had to create a wiki before you received instructions on how to use it.
www.pbwiki.com is the site my partner Jessica recommended for assignment #2 and that is the one we went with. I did like the fact that this sight had templates for your wiki spaces. Since I am a visual learner I LOVE templates. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use once I started to edit information in our wiki.
What are wikis good for? By Meredith Farkas is an article I found while searching through wiki facts on the web. This article was great because Meredith suggests several websites, some of which relate directly to teachers that were fun to look through and really showed the benefits of wikis. The following websites were the ones I looked through that Meredith recommended;
http://www.wikispaces.com/site/for/teachers100Khttp://www.bluwiki.com/go/Main_Pagehttp://www.wetpaint.com/http://www.schtuff.com/http://wikihost.org/http://www.wikidot.com/
The first sight that was mentioned was a wiki creator designed for teachers. It seemed a lot like a networking wiki sight. They claim to have over 10,000 educational wikis, which is beneficial to teachers. The wiki sights started to blend together and they all seemed as easy to use as the you tube video suggested. There were the three buttons, Edit, Save and Link, which were similar on all the wiki sights. I decided that creating a wiki was all about personal preferences, such as template design, rather than discovering the one perfect wiki sight. Really, I would be fine using any of them, but most comfortable with pbwiki because I have used it for the creation of assignment #2.
The benefits of wikis in the classroom/libray
The following is a list of some of the benefits of using wikis in schools;
- They involve students in the building up of knowledge.
- They are ways to use and so students focus on the information rather than using a new technological tool.
- Students can feel like they have a say in all wikis because they can edit the pages.
- Wikis allow for class collaboration and would lead to discussions frequently because they would always be changing.
- They can teach students how to collaborate
- They can be used as a source of information and knowledge
- Wikis are a great way to complete group projects.
- Wikis would teach children co-operative learning skills.
- Wikis would enhance students understanding of building on each others ideas and how beneficial this can be.
- Wikis would be engaging to students because they are so interactive.
- Teachers could create class wikis and students could participate from home. Students would feel like they had a voice in classroom politics etc.
- Students could use a class wiki to collaborate and share information and ideas for class projects.
- Teachers could monitor student’s participation on a wiki.
- Wikis will help student reflect because they will get feedback on their input and also have it recorded so they can re-read it.
- Students can learn to review and peer-edit classmate’s work and ideas.
- Wikis can be used for presentations by students. For example assignment #2 in our course was a wiki presentation. I can definitely see this working in a classroom or library setting.
- Teacher-Librarians could create library wikis so students could leave comments about books etc. The links could take students to author’s websites.
- Students could use wikis to record school work so that they have a record of the years work. This would be great for teachers as well.
As you can see the list of wiki uses is long and students and teachers alike would both benefit form the use of this tool.
The only problem I can foresee with wikis in schools is the fact that teachers would need to be enlightened in their positive and beneficial uses. I think it has proven difficult to entice teachers to pick up these web 2.0 tools on their own in order to benefit their teaching techniques. Karthigeyan Subramaniam’s article “Teachers mindsets and the integration ofcomputer technology,” was included in our class recommended readings. She discusses the need for teachers to better understand computer technology when she states, “A better understanding of teaching with the use of computer technology is now urgently needed.” Subramanian’s suggestion rings true in every school now and in the future. Teacher’s mindsets need to be overhauled to include the idea that computer technology will help and not hinder their teaching. With wikis I could see teachers using them if they just learned how. If you could have a 30 minute workshop and show the youtube video mentioned above teachers would likely explore the benefits of tools such as wikis on their own. As Subramaniam mentions, they just need a better understanding. This hold true with all web 2.0 tools, not just wikis.

“Digital game-based learning once removed: Teaching teachers” by Katrin Becker is another article I discovered on training teachers. Two quotes stood out for me:

“Teachers cannot be expected to embrace digital games as a tool for learning unless they have a sound understanding of the potential as well as the limitations, and are confident in their ability to use games effectively to enhance learning.”

“Teachers need resources that are readily available. If games are going to be put to use as technologies for teaching and learning, teachers must not only be taught how to use them, but the resources they need in order to do so simply must be made available and easy to find.

This article discusses the use of computer games and how they can benefit student learning, but I think the premise of these quotes can relate to wikis as well. Teachers cannot be expected to see the benefits of wikis unless they understand wiki’s potential and they are confident in using it. Once teachers were confident in using wikis, they could introduce them in the classroom. Also, in relation to the second quote, teachers need these resources to be readily available. For example professional development should involve the uses of wikis and the school software should make creating wikis easy. If schools trained their teachers in using wikis (and other web 2.0 tools) and then made sure their software allowed for its development, wikis could be hugely beneficial.

So, in conclusion, wikis could definitely be beneficial to teaching and learning. If teachers were made confident in using wikis and made aware of their benefits, I think they could be used in classrooms and libraries everywhere!

7 comments:

Katie said...

Hi Jean, I love the video link! I am going to add that to my list of links for my website for teachers! Katie

Val said...

Hi Jean: I love the changes to your blog. Your voki is great. It's nice to hear your voice. I like Fuzzy Bear too.

Yes wikis are my favourite tool to date as well, along with del.icio.us

Oh, the places you will go Dr.Seuss Wikis can take you there.

I like your comment on involving the students in building up their own knowledge and taking on some of the responsibility for their own learning and content.

What a great collaborative tool. Great wiki for our class discussion.
Cheers
Val

elizabeth said...

Hi Jean,
I love the new look you have given your blog! Blogs certainly lend themselves more to creativity that wikis but the wiki is an amazing tool for collaboration. I think the idea you suggested about using a wiki for an efolio is a great one. I wonder about backing up the stuff we store on a wiki?

Linda Morgan said...

Great list of how to use wikis in the classroom - kudos!

Cindy said...

I agree with you Jean that wikis have so much potential in classrooms and in the library. The number of excellent examples of wikis support this. It would be a great idea to share some of these wikis when introducing and convincing teachers of their benefits and user-friendliness.

Ronda said...

Hi Jean,

I am hoping to share the benefits of wikis with a colleague friend who has struggled with monitoring student research work/notemaking while it is "in-progess." I think wikis would be a solution to this issue, because as you said, it allows teachers to monitor the work which is being done. No more, "I lost my notes" excuses!
Ronda

Arlene said...

Hi Jean, Thanks for providing an example of JumpCut. I plan to give it a try on a school computer after our course is done. I like your description of VoiceThread being a digital whiteboard. Arlene