This week I’ve done my first real work on a group wiki. While I have learned quite a bit, there have been some frustrations as well, most specifically T.I.M.E.
Is there a particular example of a classroom wiki which inspired you?
One that I found was called Bungaree History and is an example of an Australian elementary class and the community working together to develop an online history of their township. It includes memoirs of local citizens from their childhood days, illustrated by the students. Helping link schools and communities has been a major effort in my career, whether through current events, service learning, shared facilities, future planning, entrepreneurship or history. This site has some great and very practical examples of how the school and local community are working collaboratively on a project that benefits both.
What was most challenging about creating a wiki together as a group in Activity 4-C-1?
There were a number of challenges this week. One was knowing where to start, partly because I had never done a wiki before and partly because (it seemed to me) the instructions and expectations for the assignment were scattered throughout the forums, assignment checklist and module descriptions. No single source had all the information we needed. The second challenge was time. On one hand, being able to each work on our own part of the wiki when it worked for us was a very good thing, given everyone’s schedule this week. On the other hand, the time I had to devote to class the first part of the week was taken up trying to complete the first assignments and figure out the wiki group assignment. The small group wiki assignment has taken SO much time! The topic was so broad and vague. Trying to figure out what to include, how to best refer to sources, how to make it look appealing, how to organize the info was all very overwhelming. Im sure that part of it is my inexperience. It isn’t a research paper, it isn’t an opinion blog. I know what it isn’t, but I didn’t really know what it was supposed to be.
What did you learn from the group wiki project?
One of the most important lessons I learned is that if I’m going to have a group work on a wiki, they need to have a very clear idea of what is expected of them and have it broken down into more detailed steps. If the key categories are not predetermined, then I will require a planning discussion before the wiki actually begins. Covey says to “begin with the end in mind”. I didn’t have a clue what “the end” was really expected to be. Still don’t. Perhaps that was part of the point. I’m a firm believer that too many rules put artificial limits on a student’s creativity. However, sometimes it is actually easier to be creative when I can be more focused instead of spending so much effort trying to narrow my field of vision to something manageable.
I’ve also been exposed to some great new resources. Each of us has a little different lens that we used to look at the topic. Sometimes that took a bit more time to figure out, but nearly always results in new resources, new insights, new appreciation for someone else’s experiences and expertise.
Has your opinion of Wikipedia changed at all this week?
A young friend of mine in the Czech Republic uses Wikipedia much like I use Google – anytime he wants to find out about something Wikipedia is the first place he turns. That was really my first exposure to it, back in 2008. I still don’t use it like he does, but find the links to other sources of info very helpful. Sometimes, depending on the specific question, it is more efficient to go to Wikipedia rather than sift through lots of less relevant links in a Google search. I am learning to use it more effectively.
Are you encountering resistance to using wikis in your class, either from others or from yourself? If so, how do you plan to respond?