The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wikis 101

We recently added wiki capability to our Blackboard system through a building block by LearningObjects.com. The tool has many nice features, including an interface for disaggregrating student contribution relative to the number of lines contributed to the wiki document and the number of lines modified by students assigned to the wiki. So, each teacher now has a way to assess individual contribution within a collaborative project as represented by the wiki document, and has an opportunity to teach students how communities build shared understanding.

What has been interesting so far is that students have not modified each other's writing. Student A may have posted an intial paragraph, and Student B may have added another paragraph, but B has typically not modified A's work in the original paragraph. Additionally, students have not added links to Web content to associate and support their thoughts, nor have they added imagery. At this point, none of the student wikis have multiple pages, which is possible within the system.

Is this a new type of writing for students? Certainly. Is this a new way to collaborate and publish representations of their learning? Yes. So, we need to do a better job with the kids at illustrating the power of community as a network for learning and how wikis support that. We need to apply the same characteristics of blog writing to wikis that Will indentified in his post about connective writing.

Additional wiki items: If you have not seen this wiki page, Case Western Reserve University has done a great job of creating community with a wiki.

Also, a must read for those interested in using wikis to develop learning communities can be found here at Dossiers technop├ędagogiques

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