Monday, August 3, 2009

The Wonder of WIKIs

I am not new to the world of the WIKIs.
I have mentioned an older peer who is very technologically-savvy in a previous post. Well, I have done a few group assignments with her, and for every one of those assignments she has created a WIKI for us to use. Rather than trying to schedule a 'group meeting' into our hectic lives we could jump on the WIKI whenever we had a chance to check what everyone else was up to, edit parts of the assignment, add more into it, ask questions, allocate jobs etc. For one particular assignment we each were assigned a particular section of the task. In our WIKI we had a home page that had the that had links to other pages. We each had our own page for our respective sections, we had a page for references so we could all compile the list as we went along, we had the Task and criteria sheets on another page as a reference point, and we also had a communications page for questions/comments etc. It made the whole group assignment thing alot more manageable not having to schedule meetings and having everyones up-to-date research and work at our fingertips.
Our WIKI was set to private so the lady who set it up had to 'invite' us to join, which is the safest way when having assignments on the internet. The other really good part was that when we logged on to the WIKI, we didn't have to go through each page to see what was new, we just had to go to 'recent activity' to see who had been editing which page at what time. It was a really good idea to use the WIKI in this way.

It could be equally as useful for students in our primary classrooms in a very similar way. Just like Blogs, the Engagement Theory can be used as a framework for the use of WIKIs in the classroom (Keirsley & Shneiderman, 1999). It works particularly well because WIKIs work best as a collaborative tool, which is the first principle of the Engagement Theory - 'Relate'. The main difference between the Blog and the WIKI is that with my blog idea, groups were collaborating face-to-face to post to the one blog, then checking out and commenting on other group's blogs. With the WIKI it could be used as the main place of communication and planning between group members as they collaborate with a common goal/focus. How they Donate is up to the Learning Manager depending on the Unit and the Context - it could even be the WIKI itself - when they have finished and 'tidied' it up they can give the URL for it to be viwed as the finished product, or it can purely be used for planning/communications/drafting etc. The nature of the WIKI means that the collaboration needs to be problem-based. Again, this depends on the unit of work and the context. It is up to the Learning manager to provide a meaningful context for engagement, the WIKI is just a means, or a technological tool that can effectively support the pedagogy.

Again, the WIKI gets a thumbs up from me. It is a simple to set up (especially wet paint) and an easy to use-means of communication, especially for group tasks that need to be worked on both in and out of school hours They can use the library computers at lunch time, or their own computers at home. They can work on their assignment/task without worry about losing paper, who has what etc. it's all their at their fingertips. It also means the whole class doesn't need to all be on the computer at the same time - during school group members can take turns on the computer contributing their work to their WIKI. This makes it an even more valuable ICT in our classrooms...

In all, I think WIKIs are wonderful :)

Keirsley, G. & Shneiderman, B (1999) Engagment Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Available from

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