To Wiki or Not to Wiki, That is the Question 4-D-1

I first used a wiki in my classroom roughly 7 years ago when I created a wiki for an American history class I was teaching.  I had links to resources, journal entries, etc. My district devoted a lot of time that year, and the year prior, to setting up wikis for everyone in the district, giving us training, and troubleshooting any problems we might have.  I also spent a lot of time and effort putting together what I thought was a decent start to the use of wikis in my classroom. My students seemed to like the use of wikis and I thought the first year was a success.  But as things seem to go in education, the next year we moved on to using moodles in the classroom.  The year after that blackboard.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

Wikis are a Web 2.0 technology that I have used, but have never really been fired up over.  I can see the good in wikis, and how they allow people to collaborate from anywhere, while having tools that allow a form of control.  I guess part of the reason I didn’t give them a fair shake is the changing in priorities of the district as listed above.  The other part is that I think the “tools” provided by using wikis in the classroom can be accomplished more easily and seamlessly by other applications.  Google Docs is another set of tools that was implemented by my district after blackboard, and it is one that I think has the most ability to transcend an individual classroom and be used by staff and students across the board.  Collaboration can be done using Word or Excel, which all students in my district are trained in, while students can access the information from anywhere and includes email and a Drive account, along with a Calendar and other features.  This is not an attempt to encourage the use of Google Docs, just my reasoning of why that versus wikis.

Technology changes so rapidly that it is hard to stay current on older tools and technology, much less the newer applications.  As a younger teacher I tried to do it all; back when hooking up to the cloud had me connecting cables in the technology closet , scheduling a time to connect within a certain window.  Even email was then a novel application.  I have since learned that for me and my classroom, I need to focus on technology and applications that I find have lasting value that offsets the students’ learning curve. As stated above, I think wikis are a fine medium if needed as a working web page, so to speak.  It might be exactly what is needed in a distance learning environment.  But in my brick and mortar classroom, I feel wikis are a redundant technology that few others in my district are using, and those that are are using it in conjunction with a larger blackboard application in which wikis are only one small component.

If I do begin teaching a distance learning course for our district, i would then consider the use of wikis as a collaboration tool.  As for now, however, I think I will probably begin the use of other Web 2.0 tools that we have learned about, and leave wikis aside for the moment.  I reserve the right to be wrong and totally change my opinion in the future.

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1 Comment

  1. Daren, you make a great point that other collaboration tools can be just as good, or better, than wikis. Most of our students know the Microsoft products so Google Docs seems like a great selection for your classroom. As we have mentioned before, you won’t like every tool or find them useful. Find what works for you and your class!

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