After reviewing this week’s literature, including the blog posted by Vicki Davis’s Wiki Wiki Teaching, I was astonished at how quickly my views of Wikis changed. Richardson’s (2010) asserts, that a wiki is a website where anyone can edit anything, anytime they want. My peer colleagues always told me, to never let students use a Wiki, especially Wikipedia. Learning that I could not only use Wikis to teach students, and that Wikipedia is a trusted source of information, raised my eyebrows with excitement. Students can act as editors in chief in wikis, to add, edit, and delete any information they feel is pertinent or redundant. I think it’s a great possibility that I will be using a wiki in my classroom, because it’s very versatile. Pupils not only have the opportunity to collaborate, but upload content information that can be shared all over the world.
I enjoyed watching the video Wikis in Plain English, it was very informative. When exploring all of the various types of Wiki’s, a few caught my eye, and my observations about their educational use have been positive. First, wiki’s encourages flexible collaborative communication among its users. In addition, EDUCAUSE: 7 Things You Should Know About Wikis, supports the fact that they are a powerful tool to be utilized to enhance classroom practices. Moreover, there are many implications for teaching and learning, such as student’s using this tool to create an electronic portfolio, allowing anyone to become a publisher, and providing users with a reliable source of information.
The first wiki I explored was Code Blue. I was amazed to see such impressive work from six graders in health and sciences. What I noticed about the Code Blue wiki, was that it was a collection of various textual facts, photos and informative links to other useful websites. The information was kid friendly, yet contained information for a higher-level learner as well. I really liked the link to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), because that connected the students to a real world application of the material they were learning about. In addition, there were various physician that commented on their page and patients that visited their medical center for diagnosis, treatment and preventive care. This made the students learning more authentic and meaningful. I wouldn’t say anything is missing, but I did not see a lot of videos. I saw one video to Brain pop, however most schools would need a subscription to view it. I would keep the website as it, but would add more patient scenarios for my high school students and videos to make the wiki more challenging.
Another wiki I found very interesting was Go West. This collection of resources was superb for a bunch of third graders. I was surprised at how thorough the students created the wiki and how informative it was. The site was organized, had a historical time line of events, and contained lots of informational text, graphics and diagrams to help students understand the Westward Expansion. I also like how the wiki could be constantly edited. You can see when changes were made, and who made the change. The only thing I would improve upon in this wiki would be to add a blogging section. This way students can blog about their progress, thoughts and opinions.
The last wiki that I found resourceful was the Great Debate 2008. What I notice about the learning outcomes, was that the project involved tons of collaboration with students not just in the school, but other schools as well. The site was very organized and contained an abundance of information that would not only benefit students, but parents, and the school community as well. I liked that this Wiki had numerous videos embedded in the site, to cater to all learning styles. I addition, this wiki not only helped students gain an understanding of publishing and collaboration, but copyrighting and trusted cited sources as well. I like that this wiki as Richardson’s (2010) contends, giving students total editorial control increases a sense of responsibility, ownership, and allows teachers to trust that students will make good things happen. I would not change anything in the Great Debate 2008, as I could not find any disadvantages of utilizing this wiki.
Inspiration for my initial ideas about using wiki’s in my classroom came from reading Teachers First Wiki Walkthrough. I would utilized wikis to have students place important informative content, that can be access at all times. Maybe students could create a glossary of elements we study in Chemistry with the element name, picture, properties, and other defining characteristics, to help students understand all of the elements and their uses. In addition, I could use a wiki to list links to tons of virtual labs. This way a student can always find them to complete their assignments. Furthermore, I would use a wiki in my classroom practice to collaborate with other schools, or posting tutorial help videos for long problems in Physics. I have created my very own wiki, and it can be found at https://pughsscienceexplorers.wikispaces.com/. I hope to use my wiki to post various tutorials in Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Science and Biology. Overall, I am overjoyed about the use of Wiki’s in my classroom, and I would encourage every teacher to use them in my school as well.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oak, California: Corwin.