Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Using Wikis...

I've always liked Wikis, ever since I was introduced to them in an online class project at SAU. I think it's the name, a Hawaiian word which means "quick" and wikis are a quick way to create a Website or to begin collaborating together on a project.

When working on the class project that involved a wiki within Blackboard, I watched the CommonCraft video, Wikis in Plain English and immediately could see a means and way to make the project work smoothly and easily using the wiki. I also had read the article called, Why Wikis? by Ruth Reynard (2009). The author's description of collaborative writing furthered my understanding of how a wiki could be used for a team project that involved collaborative writing.

From there, I created a "team sign-up" page and proceeded to divide up the project into four different sections and proceeded to let everyone know they could sign up on the team sign-up page into whatever team they wanted to be on. I then created a "starting work page" for each team, just as a means to get them started in case they weren't sure where to start and then once we got near completion of the different sections, we would put our team efforts together into a single wiki page, which became the final project submission. The teams were able to create as many pages as they needed to work through the collaboration on their section of the final project and many teams learned to use different colored text to be able to identify who had done what at a quick glance.

The online group project turned out to be a huge success for all of us in the class and everyone said that it was one of the best online group projects they had ever been involved with. This, I believe is the power of a Wiki.

Since then, I've had a couple of experiences with instructors who have had mixed results using a wiki for their classes. I think usually, the mixed results comes from trying something new. Students and team members quite often don't like anything new; they want to remain with what they know, even if something as easy and simple as a wiki could make their working together more effective. I really think it depends upon the project and the class/team members as to whether or not a wiki is the best tool to use. I feel that wikis can be an excellent means of collaborating together as a team, whether for an online class, a business project team, or a group of friends, but it's not a good fit for everyone and everything, just as most tools aren't.

This week, for my Intro to Educational Technology class, we had to create a wiki at PBWorks and within the wiki we created, we were asked to write a summary of the article, What is Web 2.0? (2009), by Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media, Inc. I already had a site at PBWorks called, Online Learning and Technology, same name as this blog, to use for any technology projects I might want to use it for while working on my MA. Since I already had a wiki at the site indicated for the assignment, I just created a new page with the summary and an additional page the assignment called for. If you want to check out my wiki, you can access it at Online Learning and Technology.

References:

CommonCraft. Wikis in Plain English. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY&feature=youtu.be

Reynard, R. (2009). Why wikis? Campus Technology. Available at: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2009/02/04/why-wikis.aspx

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