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On the Wiki Threshold

My Corpus wiki is ripe. It took me about a month to think over what this wiki will be about. Now it is ready to launch. Lessons begin next March. I believe I have produced an overall site design that includes key sections for the learning purpose, the users/readers involved, and sufficient room for change as we all learn with this wiki.

I think it will be a good idea to blog about this. Probably many of us teachers face the same steps and it can be revealing to read about the process. Not just see results and wonder how they made it.

Blogs and Wikis
There we find the first difference: Blogs are good platforms to record processes and stages. In wikis it is the last version that counts. Of course teachers will agree that the best section in a wiki is the Discussion where you can learn how a community interacted to get those results. But in a blog every step of the way, every journal entry is a final version on its own right.

My First Draft
The good think about having finished the first draft is that my mind is free to approach the next step. The how to wiki. This is where networking and connecting (probably in that order) will be crucial to make this experiment a successful project.

My Knowledge Base
I am familiar with blogging but this is my first wiki. Blogging has helped me build an information and people network I now resort to. All information is managed by tags in my del.icio.us account. My del.icio.us network is full of teachers and edubloggers far more experimented than I am. I have contacted by blog and mail people who are teachers of English at the same stage of development of their wikis.

The Shift from Teaching to Learning
Listening to Will Richardson answering questions after his presentation at the Connectivism conference, you notice in his tone of voice that he is not worried at all about having the answers. The point is not to know all the answers but to know how to get the answers. He says he has built a network where he will be able to ask and learn whenever he needs.

A New Frame of Mind
This is the question. Can we teach as we learn? Haven’t all of us sometimes come to the conclusion that all of the knowledge acquired (should I say studied?) at university only clicked in our heads when we started teaching?

Not all of us can feel comfortable learning as we go along. I cannot see a good reason why we all should, either. In the implementation of innovations, we are all to have different roles and positions towards them.

Should every teacher have a blog or a wiki for her class? To me this sounds as if we all had to consider becoming reporters in a newspaper because it is vital to stay informed. I need literacy to read and process the information. I do not need to learn how to design blogs or wiki projects. I need to know that when I am faced with a wiki or blog I can decide to take part in it or not. I need collaboration literacy. That is all.

If we can make our colleagues aware, that’s a promising start. I would not expect much more. Most blogs online today are not blogging at all and several wikis are a one man show. Even people with high internet skills very often miss the point.

The Innovator in Context: Wikis in Education
When we deal with disruptive technologies there will be different actors involved within and outside the school. Some questions:
-Can they all have a say in this?
-When will we listen?
-At what stage of the project shall we incorporate these voices?

Our decision making process has to evolve as much as our newly acquired web literacy. If we are pioneers in our school context or early adopters -to use Carl Rogers terminology- we will have to embrace the distributed nature of the internet and design ways in which decisions can be "distributed" as well. The school, the students, their parents will have a say about what we do online.

This learning process for the innovator in context does not sound as thrilling as learning how to use wikis, podcasts and blogs. It would be wonderful if they spoke the language we speak now. But this is what there is. Whether we like it or not.

Follow-up/resources links
(I’ll be using the umbrella tag ‘wiki’)

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Hi, Claudia.

You wrote: "If we can make our colleagues aware, that’s a promising start. I would not expect much more. Most blogs online today are not blogging at all and several wikis are a one man show. Even people with high internet skills very often miss the point."

Would you like to amplify on what is "not blogging at all," or give examples of wikis that "are a one man show"?

Hello Paul,

Your observations are sharp as usual! Last night I was finishing an announced draft post on blogging, and I decided to add a note at the end on what blogging is not about. I thought I would take that bit out, but now that you ask I'm leaving it there. The post is called "Blogging so Far" (there is a link to you there already)and will be published this week. The focus is on the experience of blogging at large -not just when we blog for our students.

I think blogs are ideal platforms for the opinions of an individual. Wikis have a collaborative nature. But a wiki without collaborators is not the same as a blog that does not allow comments. A blog without comments is not in the conversation. In wikis the reader focuses on the results. If a page in the Wikipedia was edited by one or a thousand people, as long as the result is good, the number of collaborators does not change the value of my reading experience.

Well, this is rather touchy. If I consider that a colleague is not using wikis properly, I would read, learn from the experience and blog about the more positive aspects.

However, I will give you a good example. I have added to this blog a PBwiki of my own. It is meant to hold my presentation slides, handouts and notes. Isn't that a one man show? Yes, it is. Of course I would like presentation attendees to be able to leave comments, but not to change certain pages. I am still unsure about what the tool will permit.

Wikis enable a different organisation for your material. Using them for what they were not originally meant does not mean they will fail. Yet, I think that in order to break rules, it is better to master them first.

Stay in touch!


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