Thoughts From NLII: WIKI Land

Another great session … this time about how WIKIs can impact teaching and learning. “Adventures in WikiLand,” by Brian Lamb from U of Britich Columbia … More on that in a minute … one of the great things about the presentation is that it is more of a demo than a death by PowerPoint. He started at his own wiki and I went back to the root directory and found that UBC has a whole blogs initiatives going on and then on to University of Minnesota where they have it going as well … man, PSU is behind the times — as usual. I am tired of this and I really think we need a dedicated office whose focus is on emerging technologies … a living, learning lab. Something like SI, but at the University level.

Back to the wiki … he showed just how easy it is to create a new page … and it is very easy. I think we have another new tool to look at for course design, eBook design, and just general coursework. He gave a great example of how the wiki can be used for things like planning … he used the example of planning a camping trip and talked about how much easier (and less email intensive) the wiki is to use for this type of a thing … he showed how it was used for planning and delivering a conference … can you think of examples we should be focusing on for teaching & learning purposes? Another great page from the wiki space. Another cool reference … shows how people write in wikis. How about this quote from WhyWiki:

So I wiki. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Sure, people might read it, but it is electronic, unreliable, ethereal. It is something I don’t entirely understand. But what I like, what I really enjoy about wiki writing, is that paper never gets the chance to solidify against me.

A funny side note … the guy sitting next to me is geeking out in terminal trying to hack the guy’s wiki as he is talking. He actually went in and changed some of his quotes and links to make his point … whatever.

Now he is getting to wiki in instruction … take a look at some examples. Of course, the audience are all saying, “but aren’t you worried of cheating and plagiarism?” … the speaker is looking at them like we look at people when they say that … “so, its your course, deal with it.” Another good idea is that in group work, with these tools we don’t have to worry about the one kid who understands Dreamweaver making the whole website … the tools get out of the way and let all members of the team contribute. That makes me happy … I know that in my classes, there are a handfull of kids who take over all the technology. We’ll be exploring this stuff more. Some entries on people who walk the talk.

Finally … why not discussion boards vs. wikis … the short answer, “there are no boxes” to constrain the flow. Discussion Boards are good for certain things, but IMHO are way over used in education. Blogs, wikis, and other personal and collaborative publishing systems are poised to take this whole .edu space by storm. We really ought to get out in front … and fast. Great session!

3 thoughts on “Thoughts From NLII: WIKI Land

  1. You asked “can you think of examples we should be focusing on for teaching & learning purposes?” Because this seems aimed at collaborative writing (for one), my answer would be “Just about any one of our team-based problems in Online IST”. The whole Word file version, see-if-you-can-somehow-track-edits thing looks like it could smoothly go away. You want to show your team where to take some part of the document, just go for it. They don’t like it? Roll back. My students doing the Smart car problem right now could collaborate a whole lot better with this, I would bet.

    I am sure there are a million more. This is one.

  2. Bill–

    That’s a great idea … how could it be implemented? Does the idea of the project site need to be protected, or should have open access? After listening to so many great speakers today I am starting to think that the thought leaders in our space are really pushing people to open it all up … stop with the idea that everything must be behind some locked door in a poorly designed LMS. I don’t know, but I am excited to keep pushing down the path towards real learning communities. Nice idea.

  3. “Discussion Boards are good for certain things, but IMHO are way over used in education.”

    Absolutely. We talk about RSS, Wikis, and Blogs as the innovations that need to be explored, which is definitely the case, but we have a roadblock called…FACULTY. The message boards that we’ve grown to despise for EDU use are finally getting used because faculty have finally realized how to use the tools. Change seems to scare a lot of faculty members, and after spending the time to explore and learn how to use d.boards, I’m afraid they’ll be very hesitant to start trying a new tool.

    One of the big questions, in my mind, is how do you get a large number of adopters out of the gate? Once faculty start using the tools, I think the students will be outspoken (in a positive way) on how much better these tools are, then the faculty will be inclined to continue to learn and explore the tool’s uses. Or another question, probably not a very realistic one, is how do you side-step faculty all together and dirct to the students? Then by putting the great tools in the hands of the students, they then push for the faculty to use the tools as well.

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