Wiki Pedagogy/Examples

Wiki enactments

THE Wiki par excellence

The best-known wiki is probably Wikipedia, a free-content "encyclopedia" that anyone can edit.

According to Stallman, "In the past, encyclopedias have been written under the direction of a single organization, which made all decisions about the content, and have been published in a centralized fashion." With Wikipedia, this is no longer the case. Stallman also elaborates on some of the unique qualities of this service, commenting that "The free encyclopedia will not be published in any one place. It will consist of all web pages that cover suitable topics, and have been made suitably available. These pages will be developed in a decentralized manner by thousands of contributors, each independently writing articles and posting them on various web servers. No one organization will be in charge, because such centralization would be incompatible with decentralized progress."

What is astounding about Wikipedia as an open, collective knowledge repository is that it worked and continues to work. For an interesting history of how Wikipedia developed (it was not originally intended as such), as well as an outline of the value opportunities created by Wikipedia, see Klemm. For additional "large" wiki initiatives see the Wikimedia Foundation. Wiki use in higher education

According to research that looked at 24 wiki uses in Western universities, wikis tend to be used by specific departments or for particular topics rather than on a campus-wide basis. Their use in scheduling, faculty use, learning support materials and course management seems to be rare. Project management is a fairly common function (especially for course-related or group projects in particular fields, notably music and languages). University-based wikis seldom appear to be used for entertainment, student feedback or journalistic purposes. Wikis with a definite purpose or structure appear to be more common than wikis basically left unstructured or for personal student use (Schwartz et al, 2004).

Wikis have been used for a variety of co-web purposes in educational contexts [1], such as co-creating and co-monitoring projects (writing, design) over time (within and between sessions). Specific uses include collaborative concept elaboration (4) (see examples: File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Firewall, chatting, Video Streaming, ICT pedagogy presentations (4) (see [2]).

A particularly innovative wiki use (in this authors opinion) is DramaticIdentity. A DramaticIdentity is a temporary hat that you put on when you assume the role of another (nonhuman) entity, allowing it to speak on the topic at hand. (Peter Mereal in References, Category Wiki-5)

1 = Schwartz et al, 2004.

2 = Collaborative Software Lab, 2000.

3 = Will, 2004.

4 = Fountain, 2005 a & b.

5 = Synteta, 2002.

6 = James, 2004a.

7 = James, 2004b.

8 = Tonkin, 2005.

NOTE: An important follow-up reference for anyone seriously interested in Wiki use in education is the 2000 CoWeb Catalog (a description of classroom activities that students and teachers have invented for the CoWeb at Georgia Tech). Also, peruse this list of Other CoWeb Papers.

Some specific wiki uses within education

In terms of composition, Barton (2004b) notes the effective use of wikis for:

  • Any class project with a reference or encyclopaedic format, including instructions, manuals, glossaries, and the like.
  • A class or group project with a bibliographic format. Students could gather websites related to a topic, then annotate, rank, and organize them.
  • A letter or statement presented on behalf of the class. These documents occur often enough in the business world, where the "on behalf" basically means that everyone involved signed off on a draft. On a wiki, such a project would offer everyone a better chance to make a contribution.
  • A handbook or textbook. Students could build a guide to correct punctuation and be evaluated as a class. Thus, every student would have a stake in the project and would likely benefit from the instruction it contained. Students also become familiar with "textbook" English and its avoidance of personal-sounding prose.
  • Any other project that does not require specified authorship or protected documents. Wikis are authored by communities, not individuals.

This last element by Barton is crucial. Some discussion papers looking at what this "open-crowd-authorship" may entail for academia are presented in the About Research section.

The 21st-century Teaching and Learning project at Texas A&M University is built around a wiki, as is the conference planning process of the TESOL CALL interest section. A sample wiki site was set up by Awaji Yoshimana for the JALTCALL 2002 conference (Godwin-Jones, 2003). Some examples of graduate wiki pages (in French only)

Patrick Plante (French) created a wiki for a graduate course. It includes links to other wiki pages (texts he created for coursework), to his favourite on-line journals, to his personal web site, and so on. What is important to notice is that each person can create whatever and whenever they wish.

Judith Horman (French) presents the papers for a graduate course (students were required to read — and comment — on each others' work before notifying the professor that the "final" version was ready). She offers links to her personal web site and to the courses she herself is offering, and describes a host of other projects in which she is involved. Hence, there is often a mixture of personal and professional interests, questions, and even "To do" lists that include the preparation of articles like this one. Some examples of undergraduate wiki pages (in French only)

This includes undergraduate work, where the co-elaboration of "techne" concepts has been developed over one university session. The goal, enforced by coursework requirement, is that each session students (and the professor) will go both deeper (nuances, questionings, critique) and farther (pedagogical examples and implications) in studies of how these concepts do and do not work with and for society. Here is one example, Internet2. Note: these concepts then serve as material for exam questions for students in subsequent sessions of the same course.

A required part of coursework was to provide public feedback (in French only) on other students' technology integration lesson plans. This was carried out according to collectively established guidelines. The feedback began in the fall of 2004 (in French only). Each student on this page presents his or her work. The critiques offered by other students are found in the commentary section at the bottom of each page. Critique of this critique will take place in the fall of 2005. Examples of college students' wiki pages (French — SSHRCH research project)

Students were required to collectively research one of five technoscientific issues during a 13-week period. The collectives consisted of students (typically six in number) from two science classes (three students from each class). Here is an example of student WikiWork pertaining to stem cell research (in French only), which forms part of our SSHRC research on technoscientific literacy.

NOTE: It is important to reiterate that the student pages listed in the section "Some specific wiki uses within education" could be rewritten, reorganized and/or deleted by anyone, in any way, at any time. There is no supervision of these pages: the students write, edit and publish with no intervening authority [3]. Some wiki lesson plans

  • Micro-WikiPedia: Wiki Lesson

Some specific wikis — outside of education

  • Wikipedia, a free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
  • Sweden's biggest Wiki website
  • The New York Times on the Web: the technical staff really took to wikis in a big way. They wrote 500 pages in just a few months, documenting the internal systems.
  • Blams has become a template tool for writing reviews of books, CDs and DVDs.
  • Some good examples of wiki pages are found on Gowdin-Jones' home page .
  • For many other wiki links, see the wiki directory.

Important resources

1. Wikiversity is a new idea to create a wiki-based learning community. Here, you might participate in on-line courses or create a course yourself. See this page for some ideas about what the Wikiversity might become.

2. This paper discusses a wiki project under way at Deakin University. This project uses a wiki to host an icebreaker exercise intended to facilitate ongoing interaction between members of on-line learning groups. Wiki projects from across America are outlined and future wiki research plans are also discussed. These wiki projects illustrate how e-learning practitioners are moving beyond their comfort zone by using wikis to enhance the process of teaching and learning on-line.

The evaluation of some Wiki use in educational contexts is presented in the Evaluation Tools Section.

[1] To lighten the text and to avoid repeating author's names, numbers follow each wiki use. The corresponding article for each number is indicated at the bottom of this section. Where we can elaborate from our own research WikiWork, examples are given via direct wikipage links. It must be said that, given their novelty, we simply do not yet know how such open spaces can be used to their full advantage. Certainly, to date, wikis have been successful, in that:

  • posting content has become an extremely simple affair. This allows what Tonkin (2005) calls "single user wiki use", that is, ways of collecting and presenting information over a period of time (8). Students can create their own interactive sites (1), information sources (simple websites easily created) (5), Hot Lists (2) (pointing to useful resources), lab books (8) and Advice pages (2). It allows professors to easily present course information (such as resources, external links, project information, sign-up pages and FAQ's) (1).
  • student interactivity has been facilitated. For example, "class HotLists" distribute the costs of finding resources across the whole class, "collaborative FAQS" allow for the inclusion of nuances and examples, "Help Pages" obviously offer relevant information (these differ from FAQs in that they are created for help and are created before the questions have arisen), as well as "Homework Handin" which lets everyone see what others are doing, creating material for discussion and later linking (with the advantage of peer ratings) (5).
  • collaboration has been foregrounded. Anchored collaboration, such as anchored newsgroup-like discussions for reviews (5), focused discussions (forum-like discussions)(5), exam reviews, expert reviews, student-curated galleries, and Fishbowl reviews (wherein students post critical comments) has been prominent (2). Collaborative writing, even collaborative code writing, is on the increase. Specific examples of this include collaborative glossary of terms (2), collaborative game adventure (2) and even collaborative radio (3). Tonkin (2005) suggests that wikis destined for collaborative writing should include: a) a page locking system b) a versioning system, and c) the ability to temporarily remove the edit functionality for a given page.

[2] project integration work — (click on any link), managing a long-term design process (2), student driven-puzzle creation (2), problem solving (5), practising constructive (public) critique of pedagogical projects (4) see commentaries/critiques on project integration work, cross class/courses projects (interdisciplinary projects) (5)

[3] Please write to if you are interested in following up any of these examples.