Wiki Wiki Teaching: The Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach (Remix)

In this four part series, I cover tagging, review building a PLN with an iGoogle page, notes on wiki editing, and end up with Leadership notes. This is taken from a blog post for my ninth graders. This is an update to my first blog post: Wiki Wiki Teaching: The Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach but truly represents most of my current thinking on wikis.

How to Information:

Wiki Editing
We met with the [Digiteen] teachers this week and this is where many students stare numbly at the screen and don't know what to do. You are doing "authentic" research - this means that you can't really go on some web page and copy information and have it be accurate. You can't google "individual awareness" and find what you need. Don't try - you are wasting your time. Here are guidelines for how you should spend your class time. I use this when I'm working on projects.

1) First 5 minutes of class - Read and Respond.

  • Review your PLN to respond to discussions on the wiki and questions or MEANINGFUL wall posts on the Ning. You could use the chat to see if someone is online from your group but DON'T leave the chat up unless you want to ask me questions in there. It can distract you and you have work to do. Multitasking is a myth - you will pay attention to one thing and not another.
  • Answer people every day on the wiki discussion tab!
    This brings another point - when you see someone leave a message on the wiki ANSWER THEM. One of the best gifts you can give a group is to let others know that someone is out there! We are communicating ASYNCHRONOUSLY which means NOT at the same time. This is a challenging form of communications. The leaders online are those who engage and communicate. Sure, a person will see that 15 or 20 people have READ their discussion but when no one responds, it doesn't feel real - in fact, it is worse, they will think

    "OK, so I left a message and NO ONE IS ANSWERING - either I'm not important or they don't care."

    Every day I should see you commenting and leaving messages on the discussion tab of the wiki. EVERY day that you edit. This is part of being a good digital citizen - to communicate with online teams. Engage with them. You will see that a multiplier effect kicks in - the more you communicate, the more others communicate and then you end up with an engaged, fun group to be in. This doesn't happen if everyone waits for everyone else to do something. This is called the bystander effect - the more people watching something happen - the less likely each individual is to step in and do something about it. Speak up. Engage. Connect!

    Why do we care about working with people around the world?
    Right now you are working on a digital citizenship document that people around the world will read. Tomorrow you may be a scientist editing the Encyclopedia of Life or working on the cure for cancer or writing a collaborative business plan with your partner who lives in a time zone 12 hours away! This is important for your future and the future of our world - we HAVE to be able to work with people in different time zones.
  • Review the current Research and news and see if you should add it to your wiki.
2) Time in Between. Read and Write
Here are some tips.
  • Look at your wiki and read your topic.
    • Errors. Are there any obvious grammatical, punctuation, or glaring errors? (Fix it.)
    • Repetition. Is anything repeated unnecessarily. (Consolidate it.)
    • Missing Links. Do you see any places that really need links? (Add them. See tips on hyperlinks below.)
    • Copyright issues. Does anything look plaigarized or need re-wording? (Edit it.)

      Take Ownership. This is OUR wiki page not yours, not theirs, not any one persons but it belongs to the group - work as a team and reach out. If you change a lot of things, leave a message. If you see it, it is your responsibility to edit it!

  • Look for content that needs to be added.
    • Missing? From your research or common knowledge is there anything left out of this section? (Add it.)
    • Confusing? Does this information make sense to the average person who knows very little about technology? If it confuses you it will confuse others. (Clarify it.)
    • Proper Place? Read the other sections of this wiki page. Does this section add to that information? Is anything repeated too much? (Put it in the right place- you can edit multiple sections - this whole wiki page belongs to all of you.)
    • Summarized at Top? Does the summary at the top of the page reflect what you've put in your section? (Add it.)
    • Included in the Guidelines? Do the digital citizenship rules reflect what you've put in your section?) (Add to them.) Are the recommendations accurate? (Work on them and discuss them if they are controversial.)

  • Look for contextual hyperlinks to be added.
    • In Context. Hyperlinks should be CONTEXTUAL or part of the paragraph in context. (You shouldn't put the full URL unless it is in a citation it should be PART of the paragraph.)
    • Emphasize Important Words. Is the word essential to your topic? (Hyperlink it the FIRST time it occurs to a page that gives a good definition and is a good SOURCE of information.)
    • Eliminate Distracting Hyperlinks. If the word is emphasized will it distract from the purpose of the page? (i.e. if a page is on digital netiquette I'm not going to link to a country's name about that country - it is not related to the page at hand unless it is a research study about netiquette related to that country.)
    • Proper Nouns. Is the word the first occurrence of a proper noun that is central to the discussion in this section? (link it - this includes software, websites, and people, etc.)
    • Watch for Dead Text. Teachers look for "dead text" as you should on Wikipedia. this is text w/ no citations. (We say "dead text is a dead giveaway" that students haven't researched and cited sources. Teachers and researchers will look to make sure that a paragraph is cited and true or if someone just made it up.)
    • Concisely used. Less is more online. Never say "To find out more click here.
    • Links to a good source. Make sure the source you are linking to is a good source of information and not just the first link you come to.

  • Look to see how you should cite sources.
    • Contextual hyperlink - Linking happens to clarify a topic as above and should be done to cite your source.
    • Citation - In addition to linking a CITED source - if you quote something directly you must also CITE your source with a formal citation. This INCLUDES all photos and videos, research studies. This is done with numbers according to our project citation guidelines.

  • Look to see how you should EDIT.
    • Less is more. The flaw in past digiteen wikis is they are TOO LONG (some could say that about this blog post ;-)) Information is repeated because students don't want to edit each other's work. Edit, make it concise. Fix things!
    • If you see it fix it. IF you see a mistake it is your responsibility to fix it. Remember that different forms of English exist around the world, make sure it is really a mistake (i.e. analyze vs. analyse. program vs. programme) Typos and grammatical mistakes shouldn't live for very long on an active wiki. If teachers see it we know that the students on that wiki aren't editing well.
    • Put things in their place. Look at the wiki page as a WHOLE - where is the best place to say something. Teachers have the ability to look at the userid's of those who edit. If you edit, no matter where, you WILL get credit - even if it is "out of your section." 
    • See the big picture. This whole page should flow as if written by one person even though it is around 80 or so students. Everyone working together can give it unity.
    • One voice. Never use "I" on this - who is I? There are 80-100 of you on the page. Blogging is for "me" but wiki-ing is for "we."
3) Last 5 minutes of Class Recap and Write
  • Recap what you did, ask questions. Post them on the discussion. The discussion tab should be a dialog that keeps work moving along. Not everyone is going to be as active or progressive as you are and hints of where they should start will help!
  • Why Recap? This keeps the communication going and lets others know that you are "there" and working. They see edits but they do not know who is editing. Your discussions mark you as a leader, someone who is engaged and working, and a good team member. This habit will see you well. Not everyone knows how to see who is editing and contributing. The Recap closes your day. It is also a starting point for you to help you remember where you left off.
  • A good recap. Include what you did today, other things you think need to be done, and where you plan to pick up next time. If you're going to be offline for a while, let others know. If you're done with the project, let them know as well.
4 Posts in this Series (Will link them after completed.)
Part 1 - How to Tag Properly
Part 2 - Building your PLN and RSS Feeds.
Part 3 - Editing Wikis and Placing Hyperlinks
Part 4 - Web 2.0 Leadership

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