Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Educational Uses for Wiki

What best summarizes the educational uses of wikis? New uses continually emerge, but some uses already have received serious attention: collaborative composition of student essays and projects; assembly and organization of large bodies of information; development of organizational documents for policy and planning; and annotation of existing documents.

There are many places that educators can take advantage of the unique values of wikis. The language arts area has long experimented with collaborative composition. By running their own servers with password protection, schools can protect their students from the public at large. At the same time, the potential for collaborative parent-child and school personnel projects is significant and wikis would be a very relevant tool to use. Educators in every content area from time to time require students to carry out team projects which involve writing which would further build on the wiki concept. On a global scale, adults have used this concept to create a number of encyclopedic and dictionary projects which have made impressive progress (see wiki examples). Dennis et al (2004) used the wiki concept to help manage the team teaching of a divergent course design that mixed diverse faculty and fields of study: history, journalism, computer science, and educational technology.

Many educators are also deeply involved in policy development and curriculum development, which require the collaboration of many participants. One example is professional adult literacy group whose wiki currently is collating information on methods of distance education delivery that are currently in use. Another group, Blogging101 created an extensive outline for participants to expand but open to ideas from anyone onthe net. Wikis will certainly be explored for such uses.

The wiki concept is also useful for pentrating a poem, passage of literature, policy paper or technical writing. Any word or phrase can quickly be turned into a link to a new web page which provides more in-depth analysis. Each of those pages can contain additional or follow-up links to expansions of thinking by other authors, a sort of chain of footnotes and annotation. For example, Phillipson's teaching of poetry required students to respond to or provide passages of text and then develop their own fine grained interpretation through linking selected words and phrases (Brock, 2005).

Examples of many uses may never be public and therefore not indexed by search engines such as Google. News of any wiki projects is sought and will be used to update this posting.

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