Friday, April 17, 2009

Finding ways to wiki...

Who knew there could be so many ways to wiki?

The first possibility that leaps to mind is that it's an ideal way to handle collaborative projects. I remember struggling with so many group projects on Blackboard - way too much time spent trying to read the "track changes" notes, trying to figure out which version had been posted most recently and whether the changes in one version pre- or post-dated the changes in another one. Makes my head ache just to think about it.

Another idea, and one I'm planning to try, is to run my student work schedule in a wiki. With 25-30 students, each working not more than 3-4 hours per week, the schedule gets quite complicated. Added to that are the frequent schedule shifts due to special events, sports requirements, music lessons and concerts...the potential for upheaval is just about endless. Presently we're using a Blackboard list to communicate about schedule changes, which is working far better than the old telephone call system, but it still requires someone (supposed to be me) to update the paper schedule on the counter at the desk. I think it would be much more helpful to have the schedule itself on a wiki so that anyone could update it as needed.

From TeachersFirst and their Wiki Ideas for the Classroom come several great ideas. One is a "What I Think Will be on the Test" Wiki - an ongoing cumulative study guide for class tests or even for likely SAT topics covered during the school year. Another idea I liked a lot is to have students run a wiki when they're away from school for a family trip, with an ultimate goal of connecting what they're seeing and doing with the topics that were recently studied in classes or are being covered in their absence.

Or, maybe I'll just sign up as an editor on Wikipedia! I love that of the first groups I joined on Facebook was "Wikipedia is my crack Cocaine," with discussions centered largely on the hours of mindless pleasure clicking from link to link on Wikipedia. I'm afraid I'm hooked >_<


~jeannette said...

Hi Marilyn

I was thinking about signing up to become a Wikipedia editor too! (I'll do it if you do it!?) :-)

I also LOVE the idea of using WIKIs to develop a study aid or collaborative space for test preparation. I find that lots of my students rely on me to much that way. Moving that into a social space increases learning accountability. I love it and plan to try it.

Last thing I'll add is that the WIKI solves so many "group project" problems. I got this nice email from a student in my course this semester that speaks to the value of WIKIS in an online classroom:

"I just wanted to add that I have taken a lot of courses online
before. I really enjoy the way this course is structured. Often my
courses have been with 20 plus students all posting to a discussion board.
I feel that the smaller groups and makes the course not seem so overwhelming.
I have done more collaboration with fellow students (WIKIS) in this course than I have in my entire program. Just wanted to say thank you its a refreshing approach."

That's a strong endorsement for the power of WIKIs! :-)

Marilyn Bott said...

Well, I did it! Your turn now...

The only trouble is that I just spent three hours prowling around Wikipedia, deciding such important matters as user name, password, and how to get started as an editor. All very interesting, but not getting my homework done >_<