Technology for CommunicationWiki.jpg

Carolyn Black
Ryan Judd
Shelley Nordloh
Angela Adams

Wikispaces

What is a wiki?

A tool for individuals to collaborate on documents.


Why a wiki?

Wikis host documents on a Web server which not only can be read by anyone, they can also be edited by anyone.


Based on the reading and your surfing of wikis how may a Wiki be used as technology for communication?

With a wiki, teachers and students are able to have discussions out of class.


Describe the elements of the wiki.

The wiki is a tool that has been developed to let anyone anywhere create and modify web content without any previous computer programing experience. Unlike HTML or Linux, where the person creating or inputing the information must be knowledgeable in the language of the system they are using, wiki allows users to edit wiki spaces in plain text with the click of a button. Wiki is a self edit system that users input their information on and is then easily open to the edits of any other user that accesses that page, unless the page has been locked. Wikis keep track of all revisions made to pages and by whom; this is a helpful tool for teachers to track group work and ensure that all students are doing their part. The look and feel of the wiki can be customized by the organizer to be inviting and relate to the wiki's content. There are several ways in which a wiki can be set up. "The PmWikiPhilosophy is to only include essential features in the core engine, but make it easy for administrators to customize and add new markup", (http://www.pmwiki.org/). The PBwiki shares the same functions of the basic wiki, but is supposed to be easier to navigate; it operates on a freemium basis which means that basic features are free while premium features have to be paid for. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PBworks). Wetpaint, PBwiki, and Wikispaces are geared more towards educators for use in classrooms than Instiki, PmWiki, and Media Wiki.

What do you like about the wiki?

We like that wikis can easily be revised without having to be a computer expert. Also, we appreciate being able to customize the wiki to reflect our personal tastes. We like the fact that wikis are a good communication tool for completing group projects. The wiki is a way to have expert and novice alike help shape a subject in content and feeling in a non-confrontational way. A wiki takes the opinions of anyone who wants to edit it and pairs it with the knowledge of field experts. We can see how this could be useful in a classroom setting where the teacher gives a subject and groups of students then shape a wiki into a web-based answer. The fact that wikis give many points of view on a subject and allow for changes to occur as new information is found, or as the information included earlier becomes obsolete, is a very useful feature of wikis.

What are the pros and cons associated with wikis?

Wikis can be a great tool; some of the pros of using a wiki are that you can see past revisions, you can lock pages, control who has access to certain pages and who can edit the pages. Some of the cons are that once you have posted something or attached a file it is saved on the internet; you have to be careful about what personal information you give out on the wiki. One of the biggest pros of the wiki is the wide spectrum of knowledge that can be tapped and shared by the members. For instance, if a wiki was created to discuss D-Day in World War II you could get input from those that were actually there, that would be priceless information that could most easily be put onto a wiki because of the open access. On the other hand, the con is that because it is an open forum you could get fact mixed with emotion from all sides of the political spectrum. Anyone with an opinion to voice can add less than reliable information and offer it as truth.

How can wikis be used in the classroom and change a classroom?
Wikis can be used by the teacher to post homework assignments and gain access students' work. Wikis can be a tool to ensure that group work is equally shared between the group partners because all revisions are saved to the wiki. Teachers can see exactly what the contributions from each individual are. Wikis also allow parents to do the same, therefore they feel more included and more aware of what their child is doing and learning.

Describe what it takes to manage a wiki
Managing a wiki is fairly simple but it does take time, effort, AND PATIENCE! You don’t have to know any computer programming, but you do have to have enough computer skills to upload pictures and files. The wiki manager can determine if they like the current changes, or if they want to revert to a previous post, thus eliminating content that they feel does not belong in their space. Choices in management styles depend on the type of set up. Managers can set up wikis (PmWikis) that allow certain groups or individuals to edit content, or they can allow only those who have passwords to edit content. All of these choices are left to the wiki manager, thus giving them some control of the content on the wiki they create.

I mentioned in the reading that wikis are the best and easiest tool to use do you agree or disagree explain the reason why.
Our consensus is that wikis can be very beneficial, however we are not sure if the words "best" and "easiest" apply. For those who are technologically illiterate working with wikis is very difficult and frustrating.

A helpful wiki website teachers are using to help them create their own wiki websites is: The Connected Classroom


Ways that we would use a wiki for the classroom:
Update parents on what their children are learning in school
Provide information to students and parents about homework assignments and due dates
Give easy access to fun learning games for students
Provide a way for students to do group projects online
Have links to learning websites, videos, and music that will aid students in the learning process
Post lesson plans and syllabi
Let students work on projects with students from other areas or parts of the world
Allow field professionals to help shape the content of group projects


Benefits from setting up a wiki in an elementary classroom:
Increase communication between teachers, students, and parents
Invite outside opinions from others
Clarify instructions on assignments

How the wiki would be set up:
The wiki would be set up so that there are pages that only the teacher can edit (assignment pages, due dates, and rules). There would also be pages that students can edit, like group project assignments. The responsibility for maintaning the wiki website would rest primarily with the teacher. The students would be responsible to contribute to group work assignments. A team leader for each group would be responsible to review all edits and make final submission.