Wiki’s and education?
Posted by Bill in Educational Tech on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink
Wiki’s have been around for a while, but I never really “got it” until a friend asked me to contribute to a wiki.
After a few weeks of using the wiki (and starting one of my own), I’ve some thoughts on wiki’s and of course wikipedia. For the curious, I’ve written a short entry about problems associated with verifying information and wiki’s.
Wiki’s are great for inter-organizational knoweldgebase stuff
Mr. Smith’s 5th grade wiki is organized topically (math, science, social studies, art, etc). Kids can easily contribute to the wiki, look up information, and properly cite information they have posted.
A computer teacher might create a wiki detailing all the different ways the schools are using technology to support learning. With categories, teachers can browse “math” or “fourth grade”.
A science teacher might create a wiki for their eighth grade students arranged topically - genetics, biology, geology, etc… Students would add to the wiki as they learn about different things.
Keep in mind wiki’s are good at organization multiple sources of knowledge. If more than one person isn’t helping, it might not be worth using a wiki.
Wiki’s aren’t great for discussions and single-point-of-organization stuff
You may be have better luck with blogs if you are one person posting classroom notes, homework assignments, etc.
You will be better served to use discussion board software if your objective is to facilitate an online discussion (with threads, topics, forums, moderators, etc)
You would do well to use an image gallery tool (like flickr) to post many images and pictures.
I think it’s easy to think of wiki’s as helpful if more than 2 or 3 people need to organize their knowledge about something. Using this definition, a classroom full of kids could really benefit, yes?
Wiki’s are good assessment tools
When students can “make their own encyclopedia” it serves as a powerful and potentially positive learning tool. Topics can be covered in minute detail, and when finished, small segments of work are more easily seen as part of a broad whole. You might be writing about the cell wall, but when you put it all together, Nucleus, cytoplasm, DNA, RNA, etc, you can see how your contribution “fits”.
Wiki’s are easy to manage
Keeping track of recent changes is easy with wiki’s, and students can easily peer-edit their stuff. It is trivial to see differences in pages, to see exactly what was changed when.
Setting up a wiki requires a small amount of knowledge (PHP and mySQL).
Malicious users (cyber-bullies) can be stopped with IP blocking, and you can configure wiki’s to only be edited by signed-in users (which is very easy).
If you are behind a NAT (most schools are) you can configure your wiki to be only accessed from inside your school network!