Archive for the 'wikis' Category

antiracist projects using wikis

The collaborative projects I assigned using wikis seemed to be successful this year in my Education 205 course: Whiteness, racism and inequality in schools and society.  In previous years I used the wiki included on the college’s course management system; this time I had students collaborate in groups of 4-5 using wikis hosted by Pbwiki.com.  The hosted wiki gave students more flexibility in design, uploading capability, and communication with one another.  They added links, photos, video clips, and references to make their individual projects comprehensive and engaging.  Some of the topics focused on antiracist children’s literature, racism in video games, antiracist children’s music, a discussion and critique of American Girl Dolls, a review of television programming for young children, and racism in animated Disney movies, just to name a few.   Among the goals of the project was to provide students with a vehicle for applying and sharing the information they learned in the course about racism and antiracism. Therefore, I invite you to check out the sites and pass them on to other educators (and/or) parents interested in helping young people learn about racism and antiracism.

In future posts I will compose a more detailed analysis of the wiki assignment and what I learned I need to do to improve the collaborative process for the students involved.

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Wikis and Writing in Higher Education

As a result of weather conditions here in the Northeast, I found that I had no phone or Internet service yesterday.  What was I to do?  I felt so disconnected. No blogging, no tweeting, no Youtubing, no ninging – I was at a loss.  Then I realized that I could revisit an older source of learning – reading a book.  How unique!  It just so happens that the day before I received a copy of Wiki Writing: Collaborative Learning in the College Classroom by Cummings and Baron.  So with cappuccino in hand, I dove it.

This book is a collection of essays from college and university faculty from the fields of English, rhetoric and composition, communication, writing, and cultural studies, just to name a few.  The pieces focus on theoretical aspects of writing in general and wiki writing in particular as well as practical applications of using wiki technology in college courses.  Many of the authors either conduct research on the collaborative aspects of wiki writing or refer to prior research in related fields. As I read through many of the essays I was comforted by references to the works of Ann Berthoff, Donald Murray, Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede, Carl Bereiter and Marlene Scardamalia, Kenneth Bruffee, all of whom I have read and cited during my earlier years a teacher and researcher of writing processes.  After having read so much this semester from technology experts (who have their own language, of sorts) , it was good to feel familiar again. So, I guess as the old saying goes – we often come back full circle (or something like that).

One particular essaythat I will comment on here is by one of the editors, Matt Baron.  His essay entitled, “Is there a wiki in this class? Wikibooks and the future of higher education,” describes the ways he has used wikis in his graduate courses and offers some comments to ponder.  One that stuck with me is that “wikis are communities of people, not just data bases of files.”  This comment made me think about the role the instructor has to play in setting up the communitity and providing support for it as necessary.  Along with this idea is the his view about how the community will function and what students need to know about the views of the community and wiki etiquette (although he does not call it that per se).  He remarked that “knowing how to change a page is one thing; knowing how to make an approrpriate change that will be accepted by the community is another.”   As I read this remark, I thought about my own use of wikis in courses and the ways in which I paid more attention to technical skills than creating a community – I mistake that I hopefully will not make again.

During Barton’s course he had students read Lawrence Lessig’s book – Free Culture – because he views wikis as “democratic liberation” (see a prior post for info on Free Culture).  I concur that wikis can have more far-reaching effects than many of us novice users have yet to discover.  And, it is good to know that scholars from a variety of related fields are researching this important avenue for collaboration.  Maybe one day I will too.

Tips for educators using wikis in educational settings

I just found a fabluous list of tips for using wikis in education successfully.  Many of them are common sense and all address principles of sound pedagogical practice.  And although they seem like guidelines that I should have followed when I used wikis for a collaborative assignment (because I am usually careful to give detailed instructions for any assignment), clearly I did not.  And that is probably why the assignment yielded mixed results.  This list of tips was created by Barbara Shroeder who writes a blog entitled, “Web 2.0 for everyone.”  Some of the tips focus on setting a common goal, reviewing wki conventions and wiki etiquette, creating a culture of trust, encouraging students to edit one another’s work, giving cleaer instructions and including practice.  These tips and more are included in a Powerpoint presentation entitled, “Within the wiki: Instructional strategies for educators.” I will definitely rely on these tips as guidelines as I plan for future collaborative assignments using wikis.

Deki Wiki – an easy to use wiki for education

For the past few days, I have talked with 3 of my Web 2.0 guides and learned a tremendous amount for each hour that I spent withthese talented educators.  I will highlight only one on this post. One of my new guides, Ed Gray, shared with me the various wiki hosting services that he considered before selecting the wiki he is now using called wik.is from Mindtouch. He felt that this wiki was easier to edit, easier to upload images and other media, and offered a lot of flexibility.  He recommended that I try a Deki Wiki and see how it compared to the other wiki hosting services that I have used.  So, I today I registered for a Deki Wiki, and in a few days I’ll start to add content to it and see how it goes.  In the past I have tried both Pbwiki and Wetpaint.  I also have an account at Wikispaces but I have not spent much time at that site even though I have read other educator’s wikis on wikispaces and learned from them.  Interestingly, it was the wiki that got me interested in Web 2.0 over a year ago.  But I haven’t gone back to them since.  All of the wiki sites that I used have been upgraded with many easier to use features since my first visit to them, so I think it is time to rediscover my initial fascination with them – a task for tomorrow.


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