Monday, March 8, 2010

Post #5 Oh Wiki Your So Fine…Your So Fine You Blow My Mind…Hey Wiki! (clap,clap,clap,clap)…Hey Wiki! (clap,clap,clap, clap)

I sashayed into Staples last week…a dangerous place for a teacher. I approached the digital recording devices, to my right, modern digital recording technology and to my left… THE HORROR! THE HORROR! Typewriter correction tape! Flashback to those dark days in my first years of university, all by myself, watching Beverly Hills 90210 as Brenda and Dylan broke up again. I dreamt of going to the Peach Pit but was instead forced to create a flawless document ALONE…cue echo…ALONE…LONE…LONE….LONE..

Incidentally, it did occur to me that my wiki post should be a collaboration, but highly doubt I would have been given the go ahead.

Mele Ka-WIKI-maka …Is the Thing to Say on a Bright, Edmonton Posting Day. (Learning the Tool)

After last week's arduous journey through podcasting, I felt ready for anything. Lamb & Johnson (2009) explain that "…wikis are simply web sites that provide easy-to-use tools for creating, editing, and sharing digital documents, images, and media files"(p. 48). This sounded encouraging, so I signed up on Wikispaces. Wikispaces is one of many 'Wiki-like' tools. The tool itself is easy to use. The past weeks experiences with video, photo and bookmarking tools made the creation foolproof. But this is not to say that I didn't have any trouble…that would foolish. Similar to photosharing I knew this tool is content driven. Choosing a subject would be difficult. The best step with any of the tools is to seek out exemplars. Here are some of the ones that impacted me.

  1. PLN Yourself This is one of several companion wikis to Sue Water's blog Edublogger. This helped establish a direction for my wikis. I borrowed her set up of tech videos but wanted to do something that reflected my own voice. So in a brainstorm I thought about adding literature that reflected Web 2.0 tools.


    If you peruse a Golden Book from the past, you will be amazed at the change in appearance of these books and the ones that are now in stores. The old font was Times New Roman. The text was placed alone at the bottom and the picture, center. New books reflect our digital natives. Books are reflecting the heavy emphasis on visual literacy. I included books that had themes loosely based to the Web 2.0 tools. It occurred to me that perhaps some of my books were on YouTube. To my delight, I was able to find book trailers, author interviews and the making of a movie (based on the book). I included at least one video under each book tab page. In future weeks I hope to add much more content.


  2. Soar2NewHeights Introduced me to Shelfari, which I added to my blog but it would not appear in its final form on my wiki. My dream was to create Shelfari for each of my four tabs, in my wikis labeled "books". This has yet to be accomplished so instead I created links to Amazon for each book on my list.

Here is the result of my labor, the Lit Maven Companion. I included a badge on this blog to provide direct access.

Creating, revising, editing and publishing are a continuous process on wikis. I searched out wikis to edit and discovered that many were protected. This was somewhat frustrating. My IP address was also blocked on Wikipedia so that was disappointing. When faced with a wall...GOOGLE! So I googled," How to find a Wiki to edit?" and Voila…WikiHow…

Wikihow is just that, a how-to Wiki. This user friendly site was easy to navigate and provided three suggestions create, edit or choose a requested article. I went with How to Make Ants on a Log. To my dismay it was already done but I could still edit. So I added the tip about substituting peanut butter with cream cheese or cheese whiz if a child had a nut allergy. The format of a how-to makes writing easier because it narrows down the product and prevents it from being too open-ended.

I also decided to edit by adding images. This article "How to Turn Tidying Your Room into a Game"
was already created but required pictures. I added the tin soldier and the camera. Adding pictures was an easy process. Select the subject, click browse and it brings up images from Flickr. Several photos come up offering plenty of choice. Personally I could have added my children's own messy room pictures, but that would be admitting to the truth.

A classmate provided this recommendation, School Library Websites: Examples of Effective Practice. I added the Jason Ohler resource under the digital storytelling tab. This Wikis has a wealth of information and I highly recommend it to all educators and librarians.

Most of the literature mentions distinctions between blogs and wikis. One obvious distinction is that blogs have one password for one person. Editing is usually done by the owner of the blog. Wikis can be have one password that is used by everyone or open to editing by everyone.

The Wikispace environment supports professional development in a different format than the blog. Where new blog post entries push prior information into archives, wiki information is "right" there. The navigation resembles a chapter book. It is easier to find information and it is presented in a comprehensive format. You do not need to read all the information, or follow the thread. Overall I enjoyed learning the tool. Like all things it's not necessarily the tool it's the content. Knobel & Lankshear (2008) states that overall, blogs are much easier to work with citing the extra knowledge incorporating HTML code makes it a little more work. I am not sure I agree though. It seems that the more these tools are out there, the easy they become comparable in difficulty.


  1. Easy to get started.
  2. Template and color choices.
  3. Variety of widgets to add extra content such as YouTube, calendars, RSS feeds etc.


  1. Save often, when adding content there is no undo page or at least not that I found.
  2. Text editor is fussy.
  3. Editing other wikis can be challenging when you are unsure what to remove or add. Personal wikis are easier to manage because you started them yourself and you "own" the vision.

On the Wiki- Wiki- Wiki- Page, On the Wiki -Wiki -Wiki -Page… (For Personal and Social Use)

  1. Family Tree- Here is a wikis page I found that creates a family tree. Scroll to the bottom of the home page and there is even a movie documenting events from the past, really powerful stuff! My family, as you know from previous posts, out birthed the Duggars. Our last family tree book was created in the early 80's. I can really see the limitations of a published book in regards to updating and keeping it current. Impossible! A birth/death/wedding/divorce can happen the week after it's distributed. (Kind of like buying a new car, once you drive off the lot, the value goes down.) With a family tree wikis, families can collaborate and add information when necessary. Also with the discussion tab, family events could be planned. Wedding videos and powerpoints could be uploaded after the big events.


  2. Documenting Travels and Trips- A classmate provided a link to his wikis. Providing pictures and thoughts about the 2010 Winter Olympics. Much more interactive than just a photostory.


  3. Extending Learning- Creating a wikis based on my own hobbies to collect ideas and co-create with others. As my kid's get older, they may want to create their own wikis on favorite music, sports, films etc. Perhaps even collaborating with friends and relatives.


  4. Pikiwiki
    is a wiki aimed at kids and their parents. They provide a list of 10 things that you can do with a
    . Such as create a newsletter, get opinions on a purchase, creating a living school yearbook, online baby book etc.


  5. Documenting a Graduate Class- I could see the benefit of creating wikis for each graduate class. Information would be organized.
    Patterns between classes might appear over time and assist the process of formulating and idea for a project or a thesis.


  6. Organizing a Reunion- Creating a history of the graduating class and use the discussion board to plan the reunion.


  7. Community League Updates –Combine a history of the community league. Attach the monthly newsletters. Use the tabs to provide info on hall rentals, sport registrations and community events. Subscribing to the RSS feeds can provide you with updated alerts. Quite often community league events go unnoticed because in the newer neighborhoods community halls are located blocks away in the older neighborhoods. Without going out of your way to drive by the community hall how would you know what it going on?

I plan to use wikis to explore the area of creative non-fiction. A story has been bouncing around my head for six years and a wiki just might be the platform for it. I'll keep you posted!

It Takes a Village to Create a Wiki (Reflections on the Tool for Educational Use)

Wikis provide a natural extension of classroom activities. This is one tool that is being utilized from elementary through to university. Below are some of the 'how to use' ideas:





  4. Supports the Teaching of "Netiquette": Kahn (2009) explains Netiquette as, "…the rules of etiquette for online communication. These include: being careful not to hurt another's feelings (perhaps by using all caps or large font sizes, which can imply yelling or superiority), keeping the conversation relevant to the topics posed, and not discussing anything of a personal nature about themselves or others"(p.29). Here are some simplified
    Netiquette rules


  5. Supports Teaching of Editing and Revision in A Purposeful Context: The Units of Study for Primary Writing by Lucy Calkins has a writing nonfiction unit that contains a "How-to"component. I have been going into classrooms teaching this unit. WikiHow has amazing extension ideas for this unit. The teacher can demonstrate for students how to edit and revise one that is already posted. Create a shared writing "how to" with one of the suggested topics or have the students create and post there own. A ready made audience, very powerful. Ma & Yuenb (2008) add that the realization that peers will be reading the wikis encourages students to do their best revisions.


  6. Supports the Connection Between Reading and Writing -Caverly & Ward (2008) state "A wiki blurs the line between the reader and the writer "(p.36). I love this quote and it encapsulates the idea of wikis so well. It is this idea that I try to get across to my students. Ideas come through reading, ideas develop through writing.


  7. Supports a Variety of Content and Purposes- Caverly & Ward (2008) suggest several types of Wikis.


    1. Resource- knowledge based collected over time.
    2. Presentation-inwardly based for collecting ideas to share with an audience at a later date.
    3. Gateway wikis-data sharing with invitation from others to make meaning of that data.
    4. Simulation-simulated, real life situation. Here's a good example .

    5. Illuminated- there is a group topic and each student given a part to explain in greater detail.


These are all worthwhile approaches to explore before deciding on classroom wikis.


  1. Supports Professional Learning Communities- Burger & McFarland (2008) encourage the use of wikis to share information in a school district. Our district website currently has a portal where teachers can use collaboration spaces. These are popular within groups of like-minded teachers, such as those in content specific areas or Alberta Initiative for School Improvement projects. Wikis can also be used between teachers of schools to collaborate on ideas and resources. In addition it can provide a space to collaborate and share ideas for meetings, essentially bringing together schools in other locations.


There are lots of opportunities to support my teachers through resource wikis aimed at the main components of the English Language Arts curriculum. In combination with the audio/video widgets, this is an excellent example of alternative professional development delivery.


  1. Supports Critical Literacy- McLeod & Vasinda (2008) "By using a wiki, students are opening their personally meaningful text to the world for critique. Viewing their own text as dynamic allows students to broadly conceive of text critically, as a dialogue rather than a monologue." (p.271). All parts of a wikis support critical literacy but I suspect the discussion tab provides an opportunity for students to pursue deep conversations. In my fall graduate course , discussion boards where the most fruitful in the way discussions and the evolution of thoughts and conclusions as compared to in class, face to face sessions.


  1. Supports the use of Audio and Visual materials- The Voices of the World wikispace demonstrates this. In addition Greetings From the World is any amazing combination of Wikis and Glogster. I see many possibilities. However this idea would naturally support students representing the places and countries in our Alberta Social Studies Curriculum.

Hazari & Moreland (2009) noted that there are many benefits to wikis that must be explored by the Instructor. It is not the technology but the support of the teacher that will make the difference for the potential benefits to be experienced by the students. Cousins (2007 ) adds that wikis will appeal to teachers that have a constructivist learning style but I would suggest all teachers give it a try in some capacity.

Bradley (2007) warns that some topics and audiences may be a poor fit with wikis. If the topic is too 'heated' the editing might take a nasty turn. Similarly, if a topic is large, Bradley (2007) advises teachers to provide a more structured wiki.

One notable point that must be made about wikis is that there are several 'how to' articles in terms of process and content, but not why to use Wikis? How do they improve learning? Hazari & Moreland (2009) agree suggesting that further research needs to be done on what features of Wikis contribute the most to student learning.


In addition, Ruth & Houghton (2009) state that, "the greatest challenge to developing a pedagogical framework is how to encompass a meaningful criterion that effectively measures learning in a non-competitive collaborative environment." (p.149). So indeed there is a lot more to discover about the nuances of Wiki environments vs. competitive environments with marks distributed based on individual effort.


Wiki week has been fun and enjoyable not that I am going to podcast about it or anything. (P.S. This will make more sense if you read my podcasting post). My opinion is that it is not Blogs or Wikis, but rather both are needed as an effective partnership that further develops your PLN.

If Wikis had been around I bet Andrea Zuckerman could have worked online collaborating with Brandon Walsh, but how boring would that TV show have been?

Until next time…Lit Maven OUT!


Nonlinked Resources


Bradley, P. (2007). How to use web 2.0 in your library. London, England: Facet Publishing.

Burger, S., & McFarland, M. (2009). Action research and wikis: An effective collaboration. Library Media Connection, 28(2), 38-40. Retrieved from ERIC database.


Caverly, D., & Ward, A. (2008). Techtalk: Wikis and collaborative knowledge construction. Journal of Developmental Education, 32(2), 36-37. Retrieved from ERIC database.


Cousins, D. (2007). Exploring school library 2.0 tools in an elementary setting. Unpublished master's capping paper, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. Canada


Hazari, S., North, A., & Moreland, D. (2009). Investigating pedagogical value of wiki technology. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 187-198. Retrieved from ERIC database.


Kahn, S. (2009). Wonderful wikis and internet forums. Science and Children, 46(9), 27-31. Retrieved from ERIC database


Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2009). Wikis, digital literacies, and professional growth. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(7), 631-634. Retrieved from ERIC database.


Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2009). Wikis and collaborative inquiry. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(8), 48-51. Retrieved from ERIC database.


Ma, W., & Yuen, A. (2008). News writing using wiki: Impacts on learning experience of student journalists. Educational Media International, 45(4), 295-309. Retrieved from ERIC database.


McLeod, J., & Vasinda, S. (2008). Critical literacy and web 2.0: Exercising and negotiating power. Computers in the Schools, 25259-274. Retrieved from ERIC database


Ribaric, T. (2007). It's time to use a wiki as part of your web site. Computers in Libraries, 2724-29. Retrieved from ERIC database.


Ruth, A., & Houghton, L. (2009). The wiki way of learning. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(2), 135-152. Retrieved from ERIC database

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a really comprehensive list of reasons why / how wikis can be used in schools. Great job on distilling the reading you did and giving it a practical spin.


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