Category Archives: Wikis

Learning from others

On the Yahoo Groups list for classblogmeister Lorraine from New Zealand shares her reflection templates to use in blogging. She was inspired by reading Konrad’s post and has created a post/article reflection and a comment reflection.  Her link led me to a great wiki that contains excellent info on their collaborative learning community. I really like this wiki. Thanks Lorraine for taking the time to share!  Keep up the great work! And as you know, one link leads to another – here’s her blog. It’s a good read, too! One post was about the danger of embedded links. Look at the comments to see how our community responds! Here’s her follow up post on this issue. And of course I have always been a fan of SlideShare. Look how they address the dilemma here. I second Lorraine’s “thumbs up” to SlideShare.

Agree to disagree

I like James Robertson’s take on wikipedia and finding truth.

Let’s take the

encyclopedia up now – how does the entry on WWI address the war? How

does it explain the hows and whys? I’ll tell you how – it uses the

(then current) academic consensus. Is that “correct” in any abstract

sense? Who knows? It might be – or it might not be. The reality is,

even WWI is still too controversial for there to be a reliable

“consensus” view. Which means that the entry – whether it’s in printed

copy or bits – is just going to be some compromise view.

Exactly how does that differ for Wikipedia and any other work? It doesn’t.

The reality is, having “anyone” be able to edit doesn’t mean that

“everyone” will. Most people don’t care deeply about any particular

subject – the ones with an interest (and, of course, the vandals) will

be the ones who show up. With the printed encyclopedia, anyone who’s

views fall outside the current academic consensus will just get cut out

immediately. With Wikipedia, they have a chance to get their take peer

reviewed and commented on.

Which leads me to the opposite view from Winer, and Ryan, and most other people – I’ll take the Wikipedia approach over the standard. It’s far more likely to allow a larger set of views fight it out.


more views, the more to think about, and the more to help you draw your

own conclusions. As one commenter said, agree to disagree.

Wikipedia Idea

Andy Carvin’s post, “Turning Wikipedia Into an Asset for Schools” is a must read. He says:

“Take a group of fifth grade students and break them into groups,

with each group picking a topic that interests them. Any topic.

Dolphins, horses, hockey, you name it.

Next, send the groups of kids to Wikipedia to look up the topic they

selected. Chances are, someone has already created a Wikipedia entry on

that particular subject. The horse, for example, has an extensive entry

on the website. It certainly looks accurate and informative, but is it?

Unfortunately, there are no citations for any of the facts claimed

about horses on the page.

This is where it gets fun. The group of students breaks down the

content on the page into manageable chunks, each with a certain amount

of facts that need to be verified. The students then spend the

necessary time to fact-check the content. As the students work their

way through the list, they’ll find themselves with two possible

outcomes: either they’ll verify that a particular factoid is correct,

or they’ll prove that it’s not. Either way, they’ll generate a paper

trail, as it were, of sources proving the various claims one way or


Once the Wikipedia entry has been fact-checked, the teacher creates

a Wikipedia login for the class. They go to the entry’s talk page and

present their findings, laying out every idea that needs to be

corrected. Then, they edit the actual entry to make the corrections,

with all sources cited. Similarly, for all the parts of the entry

they’ve verified as accurate, they list sources confirming it. That

way, each idea presented in the Wikipedia entry has been verified and

referenced – hopefully with multiple sources.”

Mmmmm. I

like this. Students doing the editing and the research. I hope the

teachers I will be working with at the high school level will like it,


Wikis on campus

“Romantic Poetry Meets 21st-Century Technology”

is an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about

wikis. It’s about Mr. Phillipson, a visiting asistant professor of English at Bowdoin

College. His public wiki is called the Romantic Audience Project.He sets up his course and uses it to encourage his students to

really get into some lively discussions of poetry.The professors say

that the wikis promote a more casual, flexible form of class discussion

than blogs and message boards. The article goes on to say that some

campus wiki enthusiasts are making the case that the technology can

actually change students’ writing for the better, by encouraging them

to swap ideas with their classmates and to continually revise their

work, instead of turning in a paper and forgetting it forever

The article gives a good overview of wikis for those wanting to learn

more. It was really interesting to see the  way he approached

this. To keep things organized Mr. Phillipson made a few exceptions to

some common wiki conventions. Students could not delete their peers’

work and had to post under user names, not anonymousley. It talks about

the ups and downs. It looks like the students came up with unique ways

of analyzing works.

“One drew and posted a pair of pictures that represented the role of

editors and publishers in shaping the work of John Clare, a

19th-century poet. Another created a short animated film about William

Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”

The article reported that the class developed a genuine sense of

community and not only changed the way students think, but it also

changed the way they write.

Mr. Morgan of Bemidji State argues that writers who undersand the

technology can use wikis to look at their craft in a new way. He say

they are more likely to use a process he calls “refactoring”:

“posting shards of text, spinning them off into larger pieces, reworking

material constantly instead of doing so at set points during the

writing process.”

I love article like this that give all the details about how learning

occured, what happened, how a tool is tweaked, and just the discussions around these new types of literacy.

Oh boy, what was even more interesting was checking out the online

discussion about the pros and cons of teaching with wikis. Now that will be worth another post at another time, but this post is long enough.

I haven’t used wikis yet.. Can anyone point me to some good wiki sites where students

are involved? Or sites where the process is explained – what worked, what didn’t is more what I’d like to read. I know about Bud’s good site but would appreciate pointers to any others.