UNIT 1: What are Wikis?

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  • What are wikis?

A wiki is essentially a webpage or a group of webpages linked together. What makes wiki a unique collaborative learning tool is that in addition to a wiki being viewed by anyone with internet access, it can be modified by anyone. It is an "open" site. While this can be a disconcerting fact for many, it is what makes a wiki a unique learning tool. It undeniably changes the learner/ participant from being a consumer of knowledge to an active agent in their own learning. Learners become authors, contributors, and editors which in essence engages them and give ownership in learning. Wikis promote communication and collaboration across the internet and fully supports 21st century learning through the utilization of videos, music, and promoting asynchronous communication. The principles behind the participation in a wiki are that the knowledge of the group is greater than that of an individual.(Grant, 2006)

"Wiki" is a Hawaiian word short for "wikiwiki" which means, quick. Ward Cunningham coined the term wiki in 1994 with the intent to simply improve communication between and among software developers. From that origin, came a "wiki culture" which has grown from its original intent. Wikis are increasingly being developed and utilized more across the disciplines. This mini course explores the implications of wiki work in the educational field.

The 21st Century Learner

It is important to recognize the role that technology plays in 21st century student's lives. This generation has been cited as the smartest generation ever. Don Tapscott in "Growing Up Digital" describes today's learner as being wired differently as compared to other generations. The 21st century learner is capable of so much more than education as we know it has provided. What does this have to do with teaching and learning with Wikis? Essentially, it is through technology and tools such as a wiki, that educators can truly engage this generation and shift education into a direction that learners so desperately need.

ImagesCAT1MVZL.jpg‎ Click here for a vision of students today.

ImagesCAT1MVZL.jpg Click here to see how the 21st century is comprised of a different type of learner as described by Don Tapscott. Remember to hit the back browser to return to this page.

After this viewing it is evident that one must 'TEACH' in the language of our learners. Thus, instead of marking up papers with pen and pencil, educators should explore wikis as a way to collaborate with their students as much as educators can collaborate with wikis with one another.

The Wiki World

To be honest, it can be quite intimidating as you launch into the wiki culture but the following tutorial video can be a great introduction:

ImagesCAT1MVZL.jpgClick here for Wikis in Plain English

After watching the previous tutorial one should have a better handle on how wikis actually work. Essentially, it is Save and Edit that makes the Wiki Way!

Let's now discover benefits & challenges of Wikis as well as ways in which they are currently being used to engage & enhance the 21st learner.

You May Now Proceed to: Unit 2


Remember, at any time feel free to jump to our K-W-L Chartto document your learning.