The Wiki – A Real Game Changer

The video, “Wikis in University Teaching and Learning” introduced three ideas related to the use of the Wiki which highlighted for me their importance in contemplating the future of education.

The first was the idea of collaboration.  In the video Richard Buckland asks the question, “What is a Wiki?”  For me a Wiki is “a living document collaboratively created by individuals over a period of time.” The more I contemplated how Wikis facilitate the concept of “collaborative learning”, the more excited I became.  I first encountered the Wiki in ADLT 640 but my engagement with the Wiki was limited – primarily due to a lack of knowledge and experience with this tool.   Nevertheless, it was a good beginning in exploring how this tool could be utilized to facilitate group learning.

The idea of collaboration is an important one.  Collaboration goes far beyond the classroom.  True collaboration contributes to true excellence in the workplace.  The practice of collaboration in the learning environment can help build skill in the application of collaboration in the workplace.  It may be true that the world remains fairly competitive but I would argue that the greatest achievements come through true collaboration –where individuals are committed to contribute their best work to achieve a common goal.  The idea of using Wikis for learning, thus, seems a marvelous way of equipping students with the skills they will need for future collaborations in the workplace.

The second idea was that of how Wikis store versioning.  In other words although anyone who has access to a Wiki may make changes to a document, the changes are saved on the cloud and the material is protected.  In affect your work is locked up in a safe and with maximum security.  The Wiki not only allows for documents to be collaboratively created with input from multiple individuals, but it saves a record of what and when changes are made and by whom.  This record of the creative process may be reviewed at any given time.

A final idea that really appealed to me was that of the efficiency of the Wiki.  I’m all about finding ways to become more efficient with my time and effort.  Take for example, the illustration of note taking that was demonstrated in the video.  The Wiki can be used as a repository, to store objective and factual information which can be recalled at any time by the participants of the collaborative process.  Searching for topics is made easy and can be conducted by simply searching for a designated topic or phrase.  No loss of information due to a damaged hard drive, lost lab top or misplaced flash drive.  You can access the material at any given time from any computer with internet access.

In contemplating the future of education and learning, the Wiki seems an invaluable tool.   I find myself wondering if current teaching programs include courses on how technologies such as Wikis can facilitate collective learning experiences.  It seems a no brainer.  Admittedly, the Wiki cannot address every challenge in the experience of collaboration, but no doubt that it is a tool which has been a real game changer in terms of enhancing the collaborative process, especially as one considers how broad the collaborative effect may extend in today’s world.

These poor fellows have no doubt had their share of frustrations with collaborative experiences.  Maybe someone should introduce them to the Wiki?!

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5 Responses to The Wiki – A Real Game Changer

  1. bwatwood says:

    IT’s dated but still one of the best short explanations of wiki’s – from Lee Lefever and his folks at Common Craft – http://www.commoncraft.com/video/wikis

    • Thanks for another great resource, Common Craft. I’m looking for a way to provide about a 15 minute overview of my 6 plus hours of instruction on Google Power Searching for my individual project. Creating a video is one way to go – you probably know many more – any specific suggestions?

  2. jshill2 says:

    I love wikis!! As I shared last week, the one we used in my ADLT 636 (capstone) course served as an invaluable tool for team collaboration. We co-created most of our documents that way and used it as a messaging board. We also established “group norms” which were published to our wiki and visible to all. It was a wonderful resource for us, and probably the most use I’d gotten out of a wiki to date.

  3. MelKoch says:

    I spy a cat picture! Trying to appeal to a certain someone who hasn’t commented yet? 😉

    I’m glad you brought up the cloud. I think the cloud will be a very important issue in the future–who needs a 160 gig iPod when I can store and pull those songs from my cloud? I think that’s why a service like Spotify is so popular (besides not having to pay for music which is a whole other problem), because you have access to so much music that you don’t actually have to physically store. Think of all the collaborative tools you can store in the cloud! Or anything else teaching and learning related!

    Sorry I got off track, but I did really enjoy your post Wally. You bring up so many interesting points about collaboration and Wikis!

  4. lsniestrath says:

    Wally,
    I am absolutely no experience with Wikis, but am beginning to realize how the knowledge of them could have encouraged greater cooperation among my former colleagues. Unfortunately, until someone shares them as a possible way to work, everyone falls back to “the same ol’ same ol'” way of working! I’m so glad that I have taken this course early in my grad program. I think that it would have encouraged me to consider working with a partner in Adlt 650. The physical distance between me and my classmates is an unfortunate opportunity cost. Google Chat and Wikis will allow me to work collaboratively without needing to drive hours to do so! The possibilities are endless!

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