Wikis, Wikis, Wikis

October 27, 2008

What is the best Web 2.0 tool for a Community Collaborative Collection of Content?

A good example of a collaborative collection of content for libraries is in the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. I came across a wonderful idea in this wiki listed under Adult Programs that I’ve already shared with the Art teacher Bold Great Idea for Adult Programs: Altered Book Workshop”. This huge wiki is jammed packed full of good ideas, and I’ll be recommending it to new Teacher-librarians.

I’ve had to endure some pretty severe teasing from my family this weekend about researching wikis. Four out of five were unfamiliar with wikis, other than Wikipedia, although all were quite familiar with blogs. They all think I should get myself a wookie from Star Wars instead.

Yet despite their lower public profile, wikis are prevalent on the web.

For instance author of Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis: a teacher at Westwood Schools in Camilla Georgia has been showing us just how much of an impact simple technologies can have in classrooms. For example, the school wiki: Westwood School wiki has links to class projects and other school events. I like how Vicki has locked the main page and added a link to “Who Can join this Space?” which explains If you’re not a student of Mrs. Davis, please do not ask to join, although this space is publicly viewable it is only editable by the teacher and students at Westwood Schools.”

David Warlick’s The Art & Technique of Wikis http://davidwarlick.com/wiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheArtAndTechniqueOfWikis brought me to a locked wiki: http://monarchlibrary.wikispaces.com/ including pages on school Collaborative Projects.

Joyce Valenza invited school librarians to contribute to this wiki: http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/You+know+you%27re+a+21st+century+librarian+if+.+.+. which resulted in the well known and inspirational Manifesto for the 21st Century Librarian .

In 2004 David Warlick predicted that new technologies are going to be instrumental in Creating Textbooks of the Future “As information changes and new content is generated, the textbook is constantly updated right before our eyes.” http://www.techlearning.com/shared/printableArticle.php?articleID=20300250 .

I listed myself on the Twitter4teachers wiki under the Library Media Specialist heading – http://twitter4teachers.pbwiki.com/ . This particular wiki list has doubled since I listed myself and I’m now following and being followed by most of the other “library media specialists” listed on this wiki on Twitter now.

In his book, Blogs, Wikis & Podcasts, Will Richardson comments that having students contribute to wikis, including Wikipedia will “Teach concepts of open source software, community collaboration, respect for other people’s ideas, intellectual property and public domain and much more.” (2006, p. 67). I agree that the best way to teach these concepts is by having students create and contribute to wikis in guided learning opportunities.

Terry Freedman’s article on Wikis in Coming of Age: an introduction to the new worldwide web v1-2. (page 83 )lists some good classroom purposes for a wiki:

  • Develop group ideas for a project
  • Create a resource for others
  • Capture ideas for a policy or strategy (for example students could use a wiki to develop a set of protocols about good conduct online)

This made me think that wikis would be a good way to allow students to contribute criteria for an assessment rubric – perhaps by beginning the rubric with a whole group and leave some cells in the rubric empty and ask students to add or edit content until it’s ready for review again by the whole group.

I also thought a good addition to The Winnipeg Adult Eduucation school virtual library would be a Favorite Books Wiki for students, so created a Wikispaces wiki @ http://mikisew.wikispaces.com and linked it to the existing WAEC library website.

As mentioned in the book, Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools, “Wikispaces is free to educators and removes advertising. Teachers can lock pages and restrict who can receive a login.” (Solomon and Schrum 2007 p. 58)

I was alarmed to see advertisements on the right sidebar so I e-mailed to ask about how to get a Wikispace free and without ads for educators. This is the prompt reply I received: “You can upgrade your education wiki to our free, ad-free, K-12 plan by going to “Manage Space” and “Subscription.” The link is at the bottom of that page. If you want to create any more K-12 education wikis, you should use this link: http://www.wikispaces.com/site/for/teachers

Whoops! I hadn’t scrolled down on the Create a New Account Screen to register for a free K-12 Account. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to rush.

Here’s how it looks now without ads:

After examining the Permissions options, I decided to try the option: “Protected-Everyone can view pages, only members of this space can edit pages”. I’m afraid if I require students to apply for permission to edit the site, they won’t bother, or lose interest by the time they are granted permission. I’m also considering changing to the option: “Public- Everyone – including anonymous visitors – can view and edit pages”. After all, if it works for Wikipedia then it can work for Winnipeg Adult Education Centre! I’ll watch carefully for vandalism or for suggestions that may not be posted from current students.

On the September 9th podcast of Women of the Web 2.0, it was mentioned that Wikispaces had originally only offered 100,000 advertisement-free Wikispaces to K-12 educators, but had offered another 250,000 so I knew it was a time-limited offer. I also knew from the WOW podcast that it was okay to sign up for more than one, so I’ve planned ahead and signed up for seven in total. In the Manifesto for the 21st Century Librarian podcast mentioned above, Joyce Valenza states “every pathfinder you do should be a wiki to support learning in all the learning arenas in your school” and she includes examples of Pathfinder wikis at her school library website. In preparation for my virtual school library renovation, I signed up for just enough Wikispaces to get started. (I didn’t want to take more than that because I want to be fair to others!) When I was at a Winnipeg School Division ICT mentor’s meeting Oct. 23, I learned about Google Custom Search for K-12. It is also free and advertisement free for K-12 educators and allows collaboration just like a wiki, so I may take advantage of that service as well in the future should I need more pathfinders.

A pet wookie would also be nice, but I’m feeling pretty cozy with my seven little Wikispaces for now.

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