Wiki Pedagogy


Love them or hate them, the use of wikis is certainly gaining momentum in education circles. Take for instance the WikiEducator project initiated by the Commonwealth of Learning,or the Wikipedia version of Wikiversity, not to mention the myriad of educational wikis appearing that have been created within the variety of Wiki software that is available online.

A discussion with my wife over breakfast this morning reminded me of how much we still have to learn and understand about wiki use in education. My wife related to me how the tutors in a course that she is currently studying have told her class that they are not allowed to use wikipedia or Google when completing assignments (something to do with the authority of the information!) I needn’t describe my reaction – needless to say it included references to “luddite”, and “digital neanderthal” 🙂

No-one (certainly not I) will argue that the content of Wikipedia is 100% accurate (although there is some evidence that it may be just as accurate as other “reliable sources”) – but that’s not really the issue. The fact is that we have a new tool available to us that we have yet to fully understand in terms of the way it is challenging our traditional understandings of things such as the accuracy of information, and the way it is changing the way we can think about (and act on) the development and sharing of information/content.

With this in mind I was interested to come across this article on Wiki Pedagogy by Ren??e Fountain. There’s a heap of information in here to provide you with everything you need to know about wikis and their use in education. Fountain explores both the form and function of wikis, before venturing to describe their pedagogical potential. He offers the following justifications for the use of wikis in education:

  • Wikis maximize interplay
  • Wikis are democratic
  • Wikis work in real time
  • Wiki technology is text-based
  • Wikis permit public document construction, that is, distributed authorship
  • Wikis complicate the evaluation of writing
  • Wikis promote negotiation
  • Wikis permit collaborative document editing, or open editing
  • Wikis permit the public to publish – public as publisher
  • Wikis make feedback intensely public and potentially durable
  • Wikis work on volunteer collaboration
  • Wikis endorse particular ways of writing
  • Wikis enable complete anonymity.

Fountain has done a great job of bringing this all together – a great read that you’ll want to bookmark and refer to again!

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