Learning with wikis

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An Annotation by Jeff Ayer

Orech goes all out in clearly defining a wiki, providing how a teacher can make and use one, and how a wiki can be utilized in the classroom for students.  For each, he also provides some informative, helpful links.  He also lists the advantages of using a wiki in the classroom, including the fact that it’s,

“. . .relatively simple technology; promotes ‘real world’ collaboration skills; fosters richer communication than synchronous communication; pools strengths of many; [is] assessable, easy to track.”  He also points out that “collaborative writing produces higher quality writing than face-to-face collaboration.”

As for disadvantages, Orech sites safety and security issues for students, the potential for shared biases, the labors of whomever moderates (most likely the instructor, which adds to the already great burden of being a teacher in the 21st century), taking on the copy and paste mentality of some youth and society, and what he calls “inequitable work distribution by contributors.”

Bottom line – wikis can work, but they must be implemented carefully and thoughtfully.  Orech writes, “to develop true collaboration, teachers must incorporate structured Cooperative Learning methodology into the project.”  He also points out that designating clear roles and tasks, encouraging goal setting, and “creating a climate where the participants identify the need for each other will ensure a quality product.”  In other words, none of this will just magically happen – the teacher has an integral role in how successful learning using a wiki can be.

Although the title is different, Orech’s article can also be found here at Tech & Learning .  It’s also worth mentioning that Orech recommends reading 7 Things about Wikis, a concise pdf pamphlet produced by Educause.

Orech, J.  (2007, April 27).  Learning with wikis.  Paper presented at the  Insight and Innovation for Technology Leaders TechForum, Itasca, Florida.  Retrieved June 9, 2008.

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