Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wikis and Wikipedia

The word “wiki” derives from a type of bus/ taxi used in Hawaii where anyone can get on or off at any time, the direction of the vehicle can change at anytime depending on who gets on, and where that matches up with whoever is already on board, or so the story goes.

Wiki now refers to an online website that people can construct and contribute to with material they bring to the site. Sharing and communicating a common theme as a project base or for purely recreational pursuits. The wiki can provide the controlled environment of a learning manager’s construct, but still allows the students to interact and research without students being given free internet access and allowed to wander off aimlessly in the vastness of the net. The issues surrounding appropriate oversight of student learning prevent free access to the web but if the wiki is accessible from anywhere the student is free to continue studies at home with parental responsibility for oversight. Wikis are a way of providing the student with all declarative knowledge needed for the task and students can through inquiry and networking or cohort interaction gather the procedural knowledge required to achieve authentic understanding. All students can benefit from a technologies that “encourages independent learning and individual preferences for process, layout, style and format” Blackmore et al (2003).

Please view my wiki E-Learning and See-Cue-You give me some feedback.

Wikipedia has become as ubiquitous as Google, YouTube and twitter. There was much debate when it first became widely known because of accuracy issues, but as an indication, it is pointed out in the tutorial notes studies have found little difference with older established academic sources. Not that these issues should be dismissed, universities still do not allow Wikipedia academic referencing and rightly so. However, as a first point of reference when confronted with a topic of which you have little understanding, I find this site immensely useful. It gives a wide, up to date and easy to understand perspective on any topic. It even has critical analysis of its own submissions so you get opposing opinions which are unheard of in traditional encyclopaedias.

As stated above Wikipedia should be stressed as a starting point which opens up the idea of critical literacy for students to explore. Not trusting presented information as absolute truth is a key plank of all learning in this digital era. Searching and questioning (or analysing and evaluating) are ranked highly in Bloom’s Taxonomy of thinking skills.

I will continue to use Wikipedia as a general reference guide and will look forward to investigating subjects with my students through the medium. As a student centred technology I would think it a highly desirable outcome for my students to be able to say they were contributors to Wikipedia.

Blackmore, J., Hardcastle, L., Bamblett, E., & Owens, J.(2003) Effective Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Enhance Learning for Disadvantaged School Students.Melbourne: Deakin University Press. Executive summary vi

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