Much of this week has been spent on learning about wikis. We learned that the maturation of the read-write Web has made it possible for students to collaborate in building knowledge, not just read about it. One of the up-and-coming Web applications is the wiki. It allows students to not only express their understanding of knowledge, but to also interact with and critique the knowledge of others. Through our reading and practice it became obvious that the technical aspect of creating a wiki is quite easy but the theoretical underpinnings, teaching of, and student use of a wiki are greater challenges.
In the second chapter of Using Wikis for Online Collaboration we were exposed to the planning, designing, facilitating and managing of a wiki. I learned about the pitfalls of planning and designing a wiki and facilitating student use of one. It seems that a lot of the concern about student use has to do with the social interactions that are part and parcel of working in a group. Collaboration may be difficult for some students who are used to individualized projects, and the delicate negotiations of group work structure and responsibility are a challenge. Management of a wiki also presents the challenge of helping students sufficiently to complete the assignment but also enough freedom to be creative and interactive with their group.
We also learned about the learning domains of wikis: Knowledge Construction, Critical Thinking, and Contextual Application. These are based on Bloom's Taxonomy of learning: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, and require a different wiki format for each type.
As part of our coursework we were asked to post essays about possible problems with wiki design and execution as well as a synopsis of three different types of wiki projects, one in each of the learning domains. After choosing one of these projects, we will develop it into a teachable unit in future class assignments.
Lastly, we were asked to create a personal blog, a wiki, and a twitter account. The blog and twitter account are to be made interactive, with the blog receiving "tweets" from twitter.
West, J.A. and West, M.L. Using Wikis for Online Collaboration. John Wiley and Sons, San Francisco. (2009).
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