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Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Future of the Wiki; middle school math wiki



The future of the wiki

There are a few things I'd like to see develop in the wiki world to make this tool more useful:

1- Rating of wiki editors-
eBay went to a buyer-seller rating system to make eBay more self policing and safe. Likewise, I'd like to see wikipedia and other major wikis develop a reader-editor rating system. For example, a Level 1 editor would be considered an excellent source of information but a beginning wiki-editor may begin at a level 10.

As people read and agreed with information, that person would begin to become a higher level editor. As their information remained intact and unchanged, that would also improve their ratings.

I believe this would allow more accurate information to "rise to the top" and unethical wiki-editors to require approval of a higher level editor before their edit "takes". (For example, show the text submitted by a level 10 editor in a shaded box and require the approval of a level 5 or higher, etc.)

I know the "level playing field" between beginners and experts is idealistic, however, I don't think knowledge should be presented as fact when indeed it is a new editor or someone who still thinks that wikis are a game.

We must begin to ferrett out unethical wiki-editors like eBay has ferretted out the unethical buyer or seller. Accurate information is important!

2- Ranking of information.
After thinking over a conversation Steve Hargadon and I had recently, I'd love the ability to right click on information to question its validity (send it to a level 1 editor) or to improve its rank. For example, the eduwikipedia list of edubloggers has become extremely long. What if we could click and rank the edubloggers and the list would evolve based upon our ratings. Then, Christopher Sessums and Will Richardson could rise to the top where they belong along with other great edubloggers such as Dave Warlick. Alphabetic is nice, but wiki voting, well, that would be very useful!

3- Commenting individual items.
Comments are great, but often the discussion area of the wiki is disjointed. What if we had the ability to discuss portions of the text by right clicking and including comments there? Then, the gray area of a Level 10 editor could be discussed and bumped up to a more valid rating.

4 - Better table editing in wikis
For design purposes, this is a must-do. Tables of Contents are great, but tables are the next step. Tables are what really made the web page improve and it will also allow greater attractiveness of the wiki.

5- Better Wiki Navigation
I wish I could take credit for this, but this is Steve Hargadon's idea. A navigation structure with the homepage > parent page > child page that generates automatically.

6- Improved real time collaboration

I was so impressed with the collaboration feature in writely! It was simply amazing! When a person updated the writely document, it was automatically sent into the browser of the person who had the document open in their browser and merged the two documents together real time.

I had the students compare and contrast wikis and writely on classblogmeister. After I complete grading them, I will have some interesting information for you.

7 - Wiki mashup Searching
The visual search capabilities emerging on the web are stunning. I've been spending time on newsmap and my life and classroom are changed! Newsmap takes the results of Google news and displays them pictorally. You can see what news stories are emerging and getting the most press.

I'd love to have some wikis search mashups emerge at some point. There should be a way to designate if something is a wiki. It would be great to have a wiki search engine or even be able to see, like on newsmap, a pictoral display of the content of wikis and what is being edited as well as a clickable listing of the wikis that are editing on that topic. Now, that would be powerful!

Middle School Math Wiki Educator

Others are beginning to wiki! Thanks to Ewan for pointing me to Matthew Ream's middle school Math Wiki. When I started,my wiki looked a lot like Mr. Ream's!

I'm hope he'll instruct students to not use their first names as they edit the wiki, but at first glance, it is a great beginning!

It seems PB wiki has added some new features such as "create a group project" and "create a syllabus." They look pretty neat and I'll have to try out those features. They've been working hard to poll educators and get feedback from them.

It will take fearless educators like Matthew to move into new areas such as this. Wikis are very useful but have not yet made it into the research datastream in an extensive way. Until then, pioneers and anecdotal situations from classroom teachers will have to spur researchers on to create their primary questions and begin their research.

Up with wikis! Up with educational engagement!

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