Sunday, 3 April 2011

Exploring Wikis

The term "Wiki" was to me a foreign one until recently, however I now understand it to be a web-site that allows all users to edit or add new content. In this way, a Wiki is a great example of collective intelligence.

Wikis in Education
Wikis are a fantastic tool for the social-constructivist classroom. Students can collaboratively construct a Wiki about a subject area with their classmates, their school or a wider community. I love the suggestions made in class this week about how creation of a Wiki page of a particular subject can be set as a task by the teacher, where the end result is a comprehensive resource created for students by students. What an empowering and authentic learning experience.

Advantages of using Wikis in education;
  • Goes hand in hand with social constructivist pedagogies.
  • A medium to teach students about collective intelligence.
  • Teach children about debate backed by evidence.
  • A tool to teach critical literacy.
  • An authentic and therefore motivational learning experience.
Disadvantages of using Wikis in education;
  • Class Wikis are highly dependent on teacher monitoring and guidance for them to be successful.
  • Public Wikis have the potential to have errors (this can be turned into critical literacy learning.). 
  • Potentially time consuming for the teacher.
With so much to offer, I believe the benefits of Wikis far out way any disadvantages, particularly since many of the issues with Wikis can be turned into valuable lessons in critical thinking for students. Certainly worth the extra time-investment by the teacher!

The quote below provides a really powerful explanation of why Wikis work despite so many concerns regarding their reliability:

"Think of an open wiki space as a home that leaves its front door unlocked but doesn’t get robbed because the neighbors are all out on their front steps gossiping, keeping a friendly eye on the street, and never missing a thing".  Lamb, 2004

And as for Wikipedia?

Brian Lamb's quote is a great explanation for why Wikipedia works, despite all common sense saying it shouldn't. We have had Wikipedia's "unreliability" drummed into us for many years, yet recent studies comparing it to Britannica show it's more reliable than previously thought.

The video posted below, demonstrates (in a very, very biased fashion!), some of the negatives associated with Wikipedia. However despite some negatives, I believe Wikipedia has valuable applications in the classroom; for example as a starting point for research, an example of differing opinions about various subjects (track history and discussion pages) and as a tool for understanding popular opinion and pop culture. By applying critical thinking, Wikipedia can be a valuable source of various forms of information. As educators, we need to teach children how to use this information appropriately. 

Disclaimer!! Please note that this video is amusing and does not necessarily reflect my views!!

1 comment:

  1. The Brian Lamb quote is great - as is your analysis of it!