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Thursday, August 24, 2006

How I use wikis. What do you do?



I just got off a great call with Steve Hardagon, of EdTechLive, and Adam Frey, of Wikispaces. We discussed wikis in education and it was a great call, even though I got in trouble for forgetting to mute my mike! (Adam was just saying such exciting things I was scribbling away with my unsharpened pencil and making a racket, I'm sure! I guess Steve will have a little extra editing to do!)

During the last two nights, I've been talking about several things. Here is some information that I want to share with you.

How I use wikis in the classroom

I have two primary uses: classroom organization and classroom content.

Classroom organization

The wiki is my hub. I guess you could say, I have a wiki-centric classroom. Whether it is blogs, podcasts, wikis, or vodcasts, if it is created in my classroom it is linked on the wiki. If the student creates it, they are to link it. It gives us one place to organize and post and one place to send content to me.

Classroom content

I've organized my uses into 5 categories of educational uses.

1 - Lesson Summaries

When we complete a lesson, the students are to post "their lesson" to the wiki. This includes vocabulary but also concepts that are part of the lesson. This is a collaborative effort after the initial information is posted. What results is a great compendium of information about a topic that students can access from home when it is time to study. (So much for "leaving their book" at school.)

2 - Collaboration of Notes

This is different because this is student driven and student created. Many colleges are seeing this happen spontaneously on college campuses as students strive to make collective sense out of large amounts of material. Many educators fear this, but I embrace it. As the students edit, work and re-edit, they are learning.

Of course there are "bottom feeders" just as in anything, but although they look at the notes, they will never retain the full amount of those that participated in editing.

3 - Concept Introduction and Exploratory Projects

This is perfect for the wiki. Any time there is a topic that I do not know a lot about (usually because it is so new) we explore the topic together and create information on the wiki. (See mashups for an example of this.) We teach one another and interact on an equal playing field and emerge as pseudo-experts in our topic by the end of the period.

4 - Dissemination of Important Classroom Information beyond the Classroom

This week as we've worked on our Computer Safety and Privacy wiki book, my students are beginning to feel the calling of sharing this important information with others. We uploaded our first video about why you should protect your identity.

If you're interested, I'll tell you how we did it in one class period! I've included a copy for you to see here. We uploaded it to Google video (I have to preapprove and upload to my account) and then we link it to the wikipage by clicking the insert media box.


5 - Individual assessment projects
As we have moved towards genuine assessments, I moved away from my exam last year. (Not very willingly either.) However, my first semester project stunned me with the breadth of knowledge that the students acquired through the process.

In Conclusion
I've created a 2005-2006 wiki archive to free up space on my homepage for the new items and this year's material.

I've been enjoying using Skype. I am such a newbie at it! I've done everything wrong in my first two days of using it, but I'm going to share it with you soon!

Thanks to Jennifer the Technospud for helping me out and giving me tips! She is one of those people who doesn't look down on newbies.

It is so important to be kind to beginners. In our changing world, even those of us who've been using technology since we were eight (like me) have new things to learn. It is so comforting to have encouraging hands to help us along the way!

How do you wiki?

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