The beauty of a wiki

A wiki can be described as a hybrid of a website and an editable word document. Used at the simplest level, it is much like a regular web site. However, users do not require access privileges, a specific software, or computer hard drive to edit the page. The true power of a wiki is the ease at which collaboration is possible using a browser. In terms of value, a benefit of the wiki is the tracking of the history of the page throughout its revision. Every time a page is edited, the new information on the page stays and the last version is saved with all the past archives. One can easily compare past versions, view changes made by specific editors, and revert back to an older version.

How I started using a wiki:

Originally, the wiki was a calendar, set of links and a place to upload documents. I liked the wiki as I could edit anywhere but colleagues asked why use a wiki when they already have a web page? Good point!

When I decided to let the control of the wiki from teacher centered to student centered, learning began to change. The wiki quickly grew into the base of my classroom. Everything created by myself or students resides on the wiki. This is great for classroom organization, but also became a guide to our learning in the classroom.

Some thoughts:

Students are given many assignments that they work on collaboratively. There are always students who work more than others. Those who actively work through the content retain more information. There are many ways to check on the work of students. Not only through revision history, but also content quiz checkpoints. This gives a great snapshot of who is actually working through the content. We refer back to information found throughout the year and the information the students have found working on the assignments are a great resource. Many students study using the information on the wiki. Student work used beyond the classroom by others is a testimony to work they do.

The only way to make sense of the vast amount of material to cover is to work collaboratively in the creating, understanding, and using of information. This is not a problem but something that should be encouraged. As students create content, edit, and re-work they are analyzing and learning the information. Those that question and work with others in editing will learn much more.

Peer reviews are the best way to get feedback. Students soliciting input for revisions and using messaging to coordinate their efforts creates community.

Using the wiki for inquiry is a great way to begin a new topic. Many times, in the search for information, new content is learned that would not be found in the books or may be new to me. It is impossible to keep up with the increasing content in science as the doubling rate for information is every 3 years and some of what we learn today will either not be entirely correct or will be proven wrong in a few years.

Uses of a Wiki

  1. class notes, schedule, handouts, summaries, lab intro, link sharing
  2. Most important to use for collaboration of notes, concept intros with exploratory projects, extending learning beyond the classroom, digital storytelling, newsletters, explaining student learning and understanding
  3. Pedadogy: differentiated instruction, authentic instruction, cooperative learning, project-based learning

Wiki value

  1. Archived record
  2. Involves quieter students
  3. Promotes sharing of learning

Effective web 2.0 classrooms

  1. web safety and privacy
  2. Information literacy
  3. Web citizenship
  4. Web teamwork
  5. Accountability

Good teaching is good teaching. Technology just makes good teaching easier. Taken from Bill Ferriter.

There are various levels of technology use and integration in classrooms found at http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/index.html. This source is wonderful in that it provides concrete example, videos of use, etc. for those looking to raise the bar, this is an amazing place to start!

From this site is the following matrix that is useful:

indicators.jpg