Chapter 4 – Wikis

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Wikis combine technology and collaboration.  Having this combination is not only just essential for the educational environment, but for everyday life as well.  Collaboration allows for a greater perspective on a topic, as well an expansion of ideas.  It allows students to develop teamwork skills, something that is vital for their futures.  Building a wiki with your class allows your students to work together, creating a site that covers the material in a way that is helpful to them and that they can be proud of.

In addition to building teamwork skills, a class-built wiki allows students to present information in a way that they can understand.  It is also an effective tool for students to use a reference guide, both throughout the school year, but also in later course work.  And because of the collaborative effort, students will also be exposed to different view points, allowing for a deeper, richer understanding of the material.

As with all technology-based classroom activities, there are some concerns.  Richardson mentions that with the use of wikis, the role of the teacher becomes a bit vague.  It can also be difficult to assess student work, since any of the students can add to or edit a wiki entry.  Content becomes an issue.  It can be difficult to find a balance between allowing students to explore and create, but also ensure that they are creating entries that are relevant to the class.

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4 thoughts on “Chapter 4 – Wikis

  1. Abby Lenneberg

    Acacia – I agree that Wikis allow students to compile and present information in a way that, by in large, they understand. As we have discussed, however, students learn in different ways; if the majority of a class were visual learners, what would the implications be for those few students that are not visual learners? Would the rest of the class overrule them? Would the wiki be as beneficial to them?

    I think it is important for the teacher to establish their role prior to using the wiki in the classroom. If not the teacher can potentially become irrelevant.

    How do you think you could use a wiki in a chemistry class?

    • I think for learners who are not, for example, visual, they would have a harder time initially. But given how wikis allow you to edit and build on existing pages, I think a non-visual learner could find a way to, productively, edit a wiki entry so that they too can benefit. But it really is up to the student (and possibly up to teacher guidance) to help those students find away to make the wiki work for them.

      I think using a wiki in a chemistry class could be interesting. You could use at a place where students could find more information about the people who major impacts in shaping where chemistry and our understanding of it is today. It can also be a good place to post in-class explanations for what students observed and learned from lab work. Since a good portion of a lab report covers explaining what the results mean, and what could have gone wrong, it’s an interesting way to see what the rest of your classmates think.

  2. Steve

    I also see the potential value of wikis, but there can be a power struggle unless the teacher is actively encouraging democratic participation. I especially like the idea of collaboration to enhance a resource. As Abby notes, a potentially good tool for some students but others may struggle with it.

    • I think that if the teacher is going to have a class wiki, they too should be involved. They aren’t necessarily there creating entries, but they should work as a monitor, ensuring that students aren’t ganging up on each other and checking to make sure the information in the entries is accurate. I think teacher oversight is fairly critical in ensuring that the wiki is more beneficial than distracting. Overall, I think having a class wiki is one of the more difficult ideas to include in the classroom, but I do think it has potential.

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