Notes from
"7 things you should know about Wikis"

1 what is a wiki?
  • used as a composition system, a discussion medium, a repository, a mail system, and a tool for collaboration, wikis provide users with both author and editor privileges
  • Wikis can incorporate sound, video, images, and text; simple tool to create multimedia presentations or digital stories.
  • open platform of wikis encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users

2. who wikis?
  • since mid 1990s; adapted as instruction technology in the early years of the 21st century (= "teenager of instructional technology")
  • wikis are being used for a wide variety of collaborative activities, for example: for compiling information, as repositories for meeting notes, as e-portfolios, as a presentation tool, means for expanding community involvement and interest in their activities.
  • Most commonly used W = Wikipedia (the online, editable encyclopedia that is popular with students)
  • Wikis are also making inroads as rough Web-content composition tools for both faculty and students

3 How wikis work
  • combination of a CGI script and a collection of plain text files that allows users to create Web pages “on the fly.” (Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is a standard method used to generate dynamic content on web pages and web applications.
  • The user agent requests the name of an entry; the program retrieves the source of that entry's page (if one exists), transforms it into HTML, and sends the result. If the "Edit this page" link is clicked, the CGI populates an HTML text area or other editing control with the page's contents, and saves it back to the server when the user submits the form.
  • "All it takes is a connection to the Internet and a Web browser.
  • When you click a wiki page’s “Edit” link, the script sends the raw text file to your browser in an editable form, allowing you to modify the content of the page.
  • Pressing the “Save” button sends the modified text back to the wiki server, which replaces the existing text file with your changed version for all to see.
  • When you request a wiki page, the script gathers the corresponding text file, changes its marked-up text into HTML, turns user-selected words into hyperlinks, inserts this information into a page template, and sends the result to your browser."

4. What makes wikis wichtig?
  • wikis allow faculty and students to engage in collaborative activities that might not be possible in a classroom. Their flexibility will encourage broader adoption—by both students and faculty

5. Wiki downsides:
  • need for monitoring; can be time-consuming
  • A wiki is essentially a database created by a group rather than an individual. Structuring the initial content in such a database for easy access can be a challenge.
  • How learners access information on the wiki, navigate the site, create internal and external links, etc. must be addressed early.
  • Wikis represent a collective perspective of a group that uses it—a wiki has a collaborative bias

6. the future of wikis:
  • Because they are so easy to use, anyone can become a publisher. Wikis show great potential as collaborative spaces that may become semi-authoritative voices on particular topics. (think about Wikipedia)

7. Implications for teaching/learning:
  • One of the easiest and most effective Web-based collaboration tools
  • The simplicity of Wikis provides students with direct, immediate, 24/7 access to a site’s content, which is crucial in group editing and other collaborative project activities.
  • The Wiki’s versioning capability allows us to follow evolution of thought processes as learners interact with the site, its contents, and each other.
  • Collaborative projects promote “pride of authorship” and ownership in the team’s activities.
  • As e-portfolios, Wikis are tools for collection and reflection.
  • The possibilities for using wikis as the platform for collaborative projects are limited only by one’s imagination and time.

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