Design in a Wiki

Design in a Wiki

I have been thinking lately about how we use wikis for all sorts of document and collaborative design. Back in the day when I was regularly involved in first designing and then managing the design of eLearning courses we used our own custom solutions for storing content and managing teamwork. The big tool we used at IST to build and manage the Online IST courses was the Digital Design Document (D3) … it was a FileMaker Pro application that allowed teams of people to easily create and manage course content, team communication, work-flow, storyboards, and more in one easy to use collaborative environment. It worked well for how we used it and it saved us tons of time when it came to actually delivering a course. One of the nice things about D3 was its ability to publish a 600 screen course in seconds so that it could be coupled with ANGEL or whatever other course management system we were using.

The thing that made it perfect was the collaborative capabilities. What we never attempted to do with D3 was just open the tool to the learners and the faculty — in other words, the design team managed the tool and the content in it. What the learner and ultimately the instructor saw was the output … they only interacted with the static pages. No way to edit, no way to update, and certainly no way to contribute to the knowledge on the page. Today we have come to expect collaborative tools as part of the work flow — wikis, books in Drupal, multi user blogs, Google Docs, and so on have become the norm. What I wondering is if you could use a wiki to not only design your course, but then deliver it in that environment as well. If you have a team of people designing the instruction, would it be prudent to allow students to not only interact with the desired content on screen but also see the design team’s notes on the same pages? Would that lead to great learning opportunities?

I am designing a new course and will be attempting to do just that. I will be putting all of the readings that I create, all the assignments for the students, and everything else in the course (from the syllabus to the final assessment) into a wiki and letting my students edit, tweak, adjust, and add to the course along the way. If I ask them to respond to a reading, I will want them to do it in the wiki so that every student’s response becomes another learning opportunity for the next set of students who take the course. In the back of my head it is almost like creating an Intranet for the course that the whole world can see.

I am wondering who out there has done this and what I need to watch out for? Are there things anyone would recommend? Final question … if I do this would people outside the course contribute content? Sort of a social experiment in course design … if there is a topic in the course I am weak in, could I count on others to come in and contribute to the course design? Am I crazy (don’t answer that one)?

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