We discussed blogs in a recent post; a blog is a journal of thoughts created for others to respond. Blogs provide a controlled writing environment for the author. Those interested can respond to the article but can’t edit or change it in anyway. It takes a village to create a wiki.
Wikis operate much like blogs without a concern of rebuttal. What exactly is a wiki? It is a Web site continually changing based on the latest addition to the thread. It is simply a coordination of ideas. Wiki’s are built on the premise of accessibility, participation and ownership from all. Anyone with access to the site can modify the wiki.
Like blogs, wikis are an excellent educational tool for professors and students to access. Not only do students have a voice with a wiki, they also can change the tone or perspective of the discussion within a wiki.
Wikis give students more authority than a blog and gives professors less control. Students can build wikis to create group projects, presentations or class discussions. It gives them a sense of focus and identity with the group.
Wikis encourage the expression of ideas by all. In some cases, students feel more comfortable sharing opinions when it isn’t obvious whose opinion it is.
Wikis can promote collaboration in group assignments, encourage negotiation, and make students comfortable with new generation of technology tools. … Other examples of assignments may include brainstorming activities, group discussions, knowledge base creating, and collaborative writing” (Hazari, et al, 195).
Even though wikis encourage a group identity, professors still have the option of tracking the activity of individual contributors. in D2L, you have the ability to create a wiki without the concern of it being available to the public. It is created within your class, so only those enrolled in the class have access. It also gives you the ability to look behind the scenes to track student involvement. It does it by color-coding each participants activity.
When looking for a tool to open discussion lines between students and professors, wikis and blogs are two excellent options. They give students and professors a new dynamic of communication. The real question is: how much control do you need or want?
• Caverly, D. C., et. al. (Winter 2008). Techtalk: Wikis and Collaborative Knowledge Construction. Journal of Developmental Education v. 32 no. 2, p. 36-7
• Hazari, S., et. al.(Summer 2009). Investigating Pedagogical Value of Wiki Technology [Part of the special issue, Impacts of Web 2.0 and virtual world technologies on IS education]. Journal of Information Systems Education, V. 20 No. 2, p. 187-98.