Educators Using Wikis - Or Not

Writing yesterday about "Shift Happens" reminds me to say something today about wikis.

I have been trying to get teachers to try using wikis. It's still quite a misunderstood tool. When I first suggested that we use one for collaborating on some professional development activities, one teacher said, "Geez, and we're telling the students not to use Wikipedia!"

I had to explain that a wiki is not Wikipedia, and tell them that they should be teaching their students how to use Wikipedia. That same teacher told me that he "forbids" students from using Wikipedia for research. Did I really have to tell him that his students are still using Wikipedia, but they're not listing it in the sources?

Here's an explanation of wikis in very plain English from those folks at Commoncraft.

At eduwikis.us, there are links to plenty of examples of educators using wikis in creative ways..

How about a book club that is discussing Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott. To get an idea what the book is about, try this entry on the book at Wikipedia and watch a video with the author. That book wouldn't be a bad way to start talking about using wikis.

Norbert Elliot and I tried to get a wiki going around a podcast series he put together on "The End of the Essay."  It never really caught on. The crazy thing was that colleagues emailed us comments about the series and the wiki, but didn't put them on the wiki itself! You'd guess that it has something to do with privacy, but I don't think that was a factor. Many educators just haven't come around to using blogs, comments or wikis.

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