Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The use of Wikis - Joel Bloch

Our university recently has begun developing a wiki that could be used as an alternativel to our course management system. In the past I have used a wiki for having students post their essays,and as part of the EVO multiliteracies class, I have been experimenting with wikis as an alternative to blogging.  As far as all these possibilities, I have still found that the Wikipedia model is the best use for wikis in the classroom. When Wikipedia first became popular, I asked my doctoral students to write an encyclopedia-like article that they could post to Wikipedia. I figured that these students had the most knowledge across a variety of subjects. They work on drafts and I edited their final draft and then posted them to Wikipedia. Some got accepted and some were instantly rejected. The ones that were accepted were all removed a few weeks later. Some of the explainations would have been useful for the students to think of what writing is but unfortunately we did this assignment towards the end of the course and the studentsdidn't follow up.

The next time I used a Wiki, I still followed the Wikipedia model but focused on skills rather than on publishing. They had an assignment to write a definition paper and I asked them to post it to the wiki. Then I had other students come in and edit their papers and then I graded them directly on the Wiki. The assignment went okay, but not well enough that I felt the urgency to repeat it the next time I taught the course.

There were some advantages in using the Wiki over the coursemanagement system but again how my university implemented the Wiki created some of the same problems I had with the CMS. Obviously, the ability to do peer review was better with the Wiki. Also, I felt it was easier to manage individual Wiki pages than individual blogs; however, I have been play around with Netvibes and Pageflakes in the other EVO class and they seem to solve some of the problems with using individual blogs. 

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