A course wiki site is a collaborative resource that may allow members of a community share information and produce contents.
The word “wiki” is a short form of the Hawaian wiki wiki, which means “quick”. The well known wiki is Wikipedia, the most important site for educators that most represents the potential on collaboration on the web (All Wikimedia projects).
Working with wikis was one of the most rewarding experiences that I ever had. In my experience as a professor of Technology Information and Communication in a course at university (UCES), using eduwiki as a learning support tool- and a collection of new media tools like blogs, yahoo groups, social bookmarking- reused for educational purposes, changed my thinking about how students create contents. It is a very democratic process on knowledge creation. Students might generate contents based on their course reading and work.
This was an interesting opportunity to engaging student in participatory learning, with class generated lists of task deadlines and procedures. Using wikis at project teams was also a way to track their work.
In small groups of students, they interact editing their writings, publishing videos, and add tags and links to contextualize information, notes and associated commentaries about weekly thematic several topics from article readings for each weeks.
Anyone can add, modify, delete and re write information and resources (links to other sites, images, videos, podcasts, add pages, documents, etc..) there with several levels of permission to do this.(read only, read and write, read write and eliminate, all of them and administering the site; etc…)
How does it work?
Every page on a wiki has a link that allows edit the page, when clicking it takes you to the editor that enables you to make yours editing. There is a page history that allowed you to revert back to a previous version of the page. It shows you when the changes were made by whom and the content that was changed.
Wikis are next to open source ideal that the collectively production of knowledge is part of the process.
From my experience…
Wiki project was a learning support tool and, in order to let students be oriented to the whole process there were tasks and a timeline to the entire collaborative work. We must provide a training period in order to let them learn the tool -as a community developed resource- and provide learners guidances to clarify goals and of the project before commencing with it.
The whole class work consisted on co create a wiki source in wetpaint tool with contents of many of the concepts of the course program: papers with presentation of the theme, writings to sum up ideas and present cases as examples of applied those ideas, with link references to their blogs and other blogs to contextualize, videos produced by the students themselves with their arguments that support the creation and a glossary of the main concepts with links to this contents. All the entries have had references from the sites and books that were sources for their posts.
Every group of students had different tasks that rotates weekly, so at the end of the project, as they have already read, written, commented and evaluated others students work. So the wiki process had a collaborative revision in which students (while monitoring the progress and provide feedback) can see the evolution and recognize that could always be made better and there the students recognize that the collaboration itself made it a valuable resource.
In the end, in a special class, in groups they made a final presentation (in a PechaKucha style ) to the course (as an audience ) the topics that they co produced and share a synthesis of the learning experience. Some of the wiki experiences in which I participate are here .
What collaborative skills do students developed?
Once they learn how to edit entries and publish information, collaborative skills that students may develop in a wiki process may be: respect others ideas, negotiating with others to agree on correctness, meaning, relevance; etc.
Why wikis on peer learning?
Because wikis may contribute that students teach each other that includes active learning (reflexive, writing, reading, audio visual levels), student engagement, generating and participating learning, reading and writing in the web 2.0, appreciation of multiples perspectives. Appart from the benefits and limitations that mentioned Regis Barondeau, a french rechercher on wikis applied on organizations who takes part on a collaborative wikibook project (part of a collaborative experience in a Social Media Clasroom) coordinated by Howard Rheingold, wiki work is also an opportunity to introduce students to the concepts of open source software, community collaboration, intellectual property and public domain. It contributes to an activity that requires interweaving of thoughts and not as a result of individual thoughts and actions.
Can be applied in any learning environment (between pairs of students, teachers, researchers) and virtual or blended mode, to investigate, as a repository of links and references, as wikibook projects developed by a community interested in a particular idea or topic.
Wetpaint wiki in plain English, You Tube.