Tuesday, July 15, 2008

921-Session 11-Dissecting Wikis

Past Participants' comments and insights.

Also, someone from class asked for more information on how to get the 'double-click on any word and then get its definition' feature, so if you are interested you may visit here for more information.

I thought a lot about how to address this session and decided to stray from the usual presentation format and teach this session entirely from the blog. I believe that it is always easier to 'show' instead of 'tell,' so the bulk of this session will be spent watching videos that will help clarify the nuances and details that make a wiki such a powerful tool--as well as address the topics laid out in the syllabus: new literacies, wiki benefits, and wiki drawbacks.

Now, just be aware that there is some redundancy in these clips, so feel free to fast-forward through parts that you have already seen.

Let's start with a clip from one of the many companies that offer free wikis for you to use. This one is from PBwiki.com. They claim that making a wiki on their site is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich. Please keep notes while watching these.

I hope you liked that one. This next video focuses upon how collaboration really works. It is a good transition from our last session on Collective Intelligence.

So naturally, these 'beg the question' about ease of use. Is it really as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich? Well let's take a look at an explanation.

And this one shows you how wikis can help educators educate.

And lastly, we'll address the underlying issue all educators have about using Web 2.0 tools in education----SECURITY.

Now, in the 21st century, it doesn't take long before the major technology giants latch onto any and all good ideas from the small start-ups. So Google has jumped on the 'wiki bandwagon' and created their own variation. They call it 'Google Documents' and the details can be accessed from the link below. Please visit this site and take the online tour. While you are there jot down your ideas and thoughts to aid you in your post-session comments.

You'll immediately notice the similarities between wikis and this new Google tool. Those teachers from the Math and Science areas will find the spreadsheet component particularly interesting.

Google Documents & Spreadsheets

Now, before your head spins off from all the possibilities, I want you to take a break. When you come back we'll take a look at this 4-part online video course, created by the University of Wisconson-Milwaukee. It addresses some of the benefits and drawbacks of wikis. The great thing about it is that it is self-pacing and asynchronous just like this course. Again, I would like to remind you to take notes as you progress through these tutorials, so that you may post quality comments and insights when you have completed everything this week. If you feel part 1 is redundant then please skip forward to 2, 3, & 4.

University of Wisconson-Milwaukee

I hope you enjoyed the variety in this session's presentation and I would like to end this week's posting with a reminder that Deliverable 3 should be posted under Session 12's blog posting, as well as on the wiki.

Thank you and as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



Lynne Deakers said...

I had never looked at google docs before. Wow! I signed up for the webinar on coverting your company(school's) e-mail server to google. Is anyone else already doing this? It sounds like we could save a lot of money and it would be more convenient. Right now we have our own e-mail server on the plant in the church office and it is not easy to access mail from home and if it is down we have to wait for the tech consultant to come and get it up at $75/hr. I also really enjoyed the presentation on wikipedia. It reinforced for me the need to teach our students to be critical thinkers, verify content be it book or web. "Trust no one!" The idea that everyone can share the wealth of their knowledge is very hopeful to me. I listened to an awesome podcast that I plan to share with my teachers from the weblog of Wesley Fryer called Cultivating Digital Literacy through Blogging and Podcasting. It was awesome. You can find it at speedofcreativity.org and another great teacher who is in the forefront of Web 2.0 for student learning is Joyce Valenza and her wiki is full of great information and tools etc at informationfluency.wikispaces.com. I am more convinced than ever that this an excellent way to engage the students in authentic learning and purpose and audience are key, not just writing for the teacher.I wonder how easy it is to back up your wiki? I tried with one I have barely started and got the message it did not recognize the format.

jack'sblog said...

Lots of helpful references from Lynne. Thank you! There is certainly no dearth of resources to enhance/augment our purpose here. It has occured to me, as I prepare to finish my proposal letter, that the "Cut-and-Paste Gang," which contains a significantly sized membership, will need constant monitoring for their posts to any class wiki. The turnitin.com plagiarism detector might come in handy, but that's a lot of extra diligence on our part. I hate to always be the cynic, but there's something to be said for experience, and kids will be kids, as we all know. I usually make it a general rule to not think about these things from mid-June until the end of August, but there are certification requirements that must be met, and I'm not counting on winning the Powerball jackpot in this lifetime. So... Web 2.0? Bring it on, dammit. Ooops. Can I curse on an EDC921 blog? Guilty as charged.

Jeannine said...

Session 11 Comments

While watching the You Tube videos, a few things jumped out that would be beneficial to me in the area of wikis. 1. A wiki is where you can put everything in one place. I would like to set up a reading wiki in my district as a resource tool for teachers, parents and administrators. This would be a collaborative site that anyone in our school system could add to and edit. It would include links, homework help, reading strategies, and many other tools that I’m stumbling upon daily.
2. It is a portal for learning and a great way to get immediate feedback. I envision the school community collaborating on creating a wiki and blog to facilitate communication between all of its members. I liked the quote, “Don’t take it with you, share your knowledge” on the UWM site.

I disagree with some of the people interviewed in regards to students being able to “do this” (wiki) at home. The majority of students I work with do not have a computer at home. Do they just fall further and further behind because they don’t have the resources at home that other students have? I wonder how we can address this.
The spreadsheets in Goggle Docs were a big hit in the recommendations section. It seems like an interesting way to get a collection of people to instantly know what the group was working on. I don’t know how I would use it in my area (a football pool is all that comes to mind) but it’s nice to know it’s there.

The presentation on UWM was a great introduction to wikis. I’m thinking of adding it to my blog and presenting it to our staff during one of our professional development days. Wikipedia seems even more questionable after hearing Part Two-Caveats. The early elementary students will have to be supervised when using this tool. How do we explain misinformation and reliability to this age group? This is another question to ponder when I’m working with the teachers. It’s a great topic for discussion.
Session 11 was filled with some great resources. Thanks!

Mrs. Matarese said...

Session 11 Comments

After taking in all of the information in this week’s session, I must admit that I am amazed at how many people around the world are using technology in so many different ways, including some that I never would have imagined. The variety of uses range from professional to personal. For example, people are using Google Docs for business purposes like scheduling interviews involving people in different time zones. Others are selling and buying Red Sox tickets, some are planning vacations, and many are using them for educational purposes. It is easy to see why wikis are so popular: they are free and quick, hence the Hawaiian term wiki. Users can accomplish their goals efficiently.

I appreciated the Univ. of WI Milwaukee presentation. It was interesting to learn about the pros and cons. After hearing about the problems, such as vandalism, I was surprised to learn of the study conducted about the accuracy of encyclopedias published in the journal “Nature” in 2005. It found that Encyclopedia Brittanica and Wikipedia contained about the same number of errors; that is stunning.

One must be mindful of the “spreading of unverified information” and the “volunteer coverage bias,” two concepts that we must teach our students. I’m with Jeannine in wondering just how to teach this to the elementary children. The fact that Wikipedia is referred to as a “current events encyclopedia” speaks volumes about our culture and what the volunteer editors deem important. There is a great deal of information on Wikipedia that you just don’t find in Brittanica. For instance, you can find tons of information about video games, television shows, celebrities, fictional characters, all topics that aren’t my cup of tea. (I spent way too much time browsing through the topics.) I can see how students could spend hours reading this stuff!

Brooke said...

Two people mentioned in their comments to this session that they wonder how we teach the younger elementary children to think critically about the entries in Wikipedia from the standpoint of bias. I think this is the perfect opportunity to collaborate with your school library media specialist. Chances are your SMLS is doing some of this with your students already but it would make it even more powerful for your students if you created a lesson together. Think of the possibilities. Small groups could look up facts on both Wikipedia and the World Book and compare their findings. Of course this would have to be thoroughly planned ahead of time, because as the University of Wisconsin tutorial pointed out, there is some adult material on it. The important thing is to get them to be conscious of what they are reading, who wrote it and for what purpose. This is perfect time to get them to think what kinds of information might be more reliable in both sources and what source might best answer their question before they look it up.
I would like to do something like this with my fourth and fifth graders next year. In the past I have told students that they cannot cite Wikipedia a source for the research projects they do in the library. I think it would be much more effective to have the students delve into Wikipedia, compare it to other sources and discuss what they find. I would love to then have them come up with a policy as a class as to how they use Wikipedia.

Joanne D. said...

I would like to spend more time with google docs--this looks like a great tool for collaborating. I know that some of the teachers at my school use google docs with students and have a lot of success. The journalism teacher and the editor of the school paper began to use google docs and can have all the articles written and proofread by all newspaper staff long before the articles go to print. What a great opportunity!

I could relate to one educator who stated that using wikis eliminated the whole list of excuses teachers get when an assignment is due. I don't know how many times I've heard about a printer running out of ink or couldn’t open a document using my computer! This alone is a great reason to encourage the use of a wiki.

Recently, I began looking into wikis for the Helena Public Library to use with some of their programming and planning. So far the staff there is excited to have the opportunity to provide a spot where collaboration is almost effortless. They are setting one up to work on the community planning for a Big Read Grant they received and will be sharing with the Helena community. Now the various community partners do not need to leave their office to share ideas.

I do think using wikis is easy--maybe even as easy as making a sandwich as long as you have all the ingredients in your cupboard!

Erin Wright said...

Session 11

This week’s information left me a little bit overwhelmed with choices. (PBwiki, Google docs, wikispaces, mediawiki, wikimatrix, etc.) I listened to the explanations of each, but I’m still confused. I need a wiki spreadsheet of the hosting sites just to compare and contrast the possibilities! Short of opening up a wiki on each of these, I don’t know how else I could find the right one. I guess for now I will just stick with wikispaces.

I hope I was also not the only one who was a little bit confused about the options presented at the end of the University of Wisconsin presentation (part 4)in reference to “hosting your own, or choosing an administrator…”. I just don’t get it. Once again, I think I’ll stick with Wikispaces. I am going to assume that some of this stuff is for the way advanced user (not me).

But I do feel empowered with a vast amount of knowledge about Wikipedia. Now, more than ever, I would feel more confident about letting students use it as a source. I think it’s too valuable of a resource to discard. I would require further documentation, however. But I would have no hesitation directing kids to Wikipedia first as a user friendly first step.

Thank you, Jeannine. A light bulb went off in my head when you said “A wiki is where you can put everything in one place.” This made a lot of sense to me. I can manage everything from one place. It’s kind of like a wiki as one of those super remote controls that can do everything from opening your garage door to dimming the lights and playing your music. It’s a platform from which you can store information, communicate with others, catalogue, etc., etc., etc., thus reducing the redundancy of emailing, Word, spreadsheets, etc. It’s a tool of centralization.

I really enjoyed reading the ways in which people use their wikis. The thought of using a wiki to keep an active copy of a work in progress or manuscript was appealing to me. Some people have, in my opinion, gone a little wikicrazy, though. I mean, the grocery list guy? If you haven’t read that one, you MUST. It’s a classic.


CHSEinfo said...

Ami Sinclair

Session 11

There were a few things that jumped out at me when going over this week’s session. I like the whole reflection piece of wikis. Almost all of the teachers at East make the students do reflections with all major assignments. Using a wiki would be a great way for the students to get practice with reflections and see that there is a purpose for them. I also liked what was said in the third video about how the students can not say that their disk was not formatted or they lost it. Using a wiki is a way to eliminate some of the excuses that the students have become so use to using.

I never knew that Google documents existed. I was a little overwhelmed but can see that there could be many beneficial uses for it. I like the fact that it is a place for everyone’s ideas to be in the same place instead of having to send different emails to everyone. I am going to have to start out using it on a more personal level so that I can become comfortable with it before I start using it in the classroom. I would love to get the special education department in my school to use Google documents. We share materials and if a spreadsheet was created that everyone had access to everyone could decide when they wanted to use the materials. The problem that I see with this is I know a few teachers in my department that are not fans with technology and it would take them a while to get comfortable using this program.

Wikipedia is a source that many teachers do not allow the students to use when working on projects. The students love using it because there is so much information in one place and they are very familiar with the format. When the students use Wikipedia in resource I have them start off using it but then they have to find similar information to know that what they found is accurate. I think that if the students get some training in testing a site to see if it is reliable they should be able to use Wikipedia.

Mrs. Kiernan said...

Session 11 Comments

I go back and forth with how a wiki could work with 4th graders. The deeper I dig with wikis and blogs, the more I have questions about how this will truly work in my setting. I tend to be ambitious and want to try out everything and integrate everything without giving it a second thought. I’ve decided to take the advice of a very dear friend, KISS (keep it simple stupid), I can’t introduce all of this at once for everything I teach. I agree with Erin… we need a spread sheet. PBwiki looks and acts very much like wikispaces. I did set one up to see if it was really “as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”. It was pretty easy (I didn’t have to cut the crust off of this!!) PBwiki and wikispaces generally do the same thing. However, I did get many emails from PBwiki guiding me in the set up of my wiki.

I’m finding Google is doing more and more than just searching these days. I am looking forward to playing with this more to see how I can integrate it into my classroom. The Google documents tool would come in handy for notices that need to go home (think green!!!) and for homework assignments that are teacher created. No more excuses!!

Ms. DiTusa said...

Session 11 comments:
Based on the first clip: I like that students will have the chance to see what their peers create. They will be able to learn various techniques in terms of the technology, see what their classmates are capable of intellectually, and hopefully be motivated and challenged to improve their own work since they know that others will see it. An important component, too, is the collaboration that must take place before and while posting to the wiki; it takes cooperative learning to a new level.

Based on the fifth clip: I found Google Docs to have many useful tools, but I’m wondering about where my energy and effort should be directed. Should a blog, a wiki, a Schoolnotes site, a page on my school’s website, my team’s homework calendar, or a Google Document be my focus? I want the kids to be clear as to where exactly to access information related to my class, so I want to avoid their having to visit too many places. Having to maintain too many of these sites is just not feasible, so I need to choose one or two.

Based on Why Wiki – Part 1: During the equinox example, John Hubbard states that you may or may not find the right information, but… How are the users of Wikipedia supposed to know if something is incorrect? How are the kids supposed to discern what is factual and what is simply someone’s random input? If they are researching a topic about which they know nothing, then how are they supposed to compare what they have read to their prior knowledge, which would ultimately equip them to question the veracity of the text and encourage them to visit other sites in order to explore further? Why not just go to more reliable sources in the first place since many students will not take the initiative to research beyond the first site they see?

A page such as the one about George Bush can serve as a good exercise for teaching students about bias, voice, audience, and tone. They can read critically and try to determine connotation behind the words.

Based on Why Wiki – Part 2: About the vandalism example, Hulk looks a lot different than he did in his wrestling days!!!

The quote about Wikipedia by Jimmy Wales frustrated me: “It is pretty good, but you have to be careful with it, it’s good enough knowledge, depending on what your purpose is.” Pretty good?? Good enough?? Do we want to reinforce and condone our students’ use of this type of source? Good luck, kids.

As I watched this presentation and took notes, it occurred to me that I was just moving along, believing and accepting everything that Hubbard said. I trust the source and accept the content because of the source. Kids, however, often just believe – they see official logos, hyperlinks, a formal border, no cartoons, and they think, well, it’s here, so it’s true. Why would they feel the need to doubt or question a source? How are they supposed to know who is credible and who is not? How do they learn who to believe?

Hubbard provided an example about someone changed a fact about the number of elephants. Perhaps an eight-year-old child saw the incorrect number and used it in a report or just told her mommy about it over dinner. Even though the number was later changed back, she doesn’t know that. She has just learned the wrong information, but it’s “good enough,” right?

Based on Why Wiki – Part 3: Hubbard seems to keep supporting the fallibility of Wikipedia. It is important for him to address the drawbacks, but the issues seem to overpower the presentation, especially when Hubbard includes quotes, such as the following: “Only to use Wikipedia if they are willing to hand a stranger in the street a knife and let them remove the their tonsils.”

After viewing all four parts, which were very compelling and thought provoking, I am even more convinced that students should limit their use of and not even use Wikipedia for their research because of such factors as unreliability, profanity/graphic content, and controversial material. However, I do see the value in developing a class wiki, one that can be viewed by anyone but only edited by the students and me.

Ms. DiTusa said...

A positive comment from me..rare, I know...I did create a wiki, and it was easy!

Mr. Dudley... said...

Thanks, Lynne, for the tip on informationfluency.wikispaces.com. Like pretty much everybody has already said, I was quite impressed with the possibilities that Google Docs offers.

Every year I have students that do not have internet access at home. There is no way that I can make wiki use mandatory for homework. However, I do love the idea of taking away the disk/printer excuses via wiki!