Sunday, March 18, 2012

Talk to the Wiki!

A wiki is a webpage that (permitted) members can collectively add to or change. The benefit of wikipedia is that it is an “open-source” document and has the potential to be current and up-to-date.

There are so many uses for wikis in the classroom and as part of a subject and teachers curriculum from writing, collaboration and resource usefulness. I would like to focus on the value of out-of-class online discussions as part of a classroom component. Using Wikispaces as a discussion and forum tool allows educators to engage students in a text-based dialogue between the teacher and students as well as the students with each other. This tool can facilitate a meaningful learning dialogue amongst students who would normally not be creating such dialogue, if any, in the classroom face to face with their peers. A discussion tool like wiki also helps develop students‘ written communication skills  which is an added benefit to a language arts or reading teacher, for example. Wikis are a great way to document changes made in the writing process. During the editing and revising stages, you could have students do peer reviews on each others work and offer comments and suggestions for improvements or clarifications. Discussion forums allow time and space for educators and students to articulate their thoughts, ideas and opinions clearly and thoughtfully when engaging in classroom related dialogue. Sometimes people get their second wind in the evening. What a better time to share your ideas and thoughts to your peers or teacher then when you are “on!” In addition, with the onset of digital and mobile tools like social networking and smart phone texting, students are practically raised communicating online to their peers, we might as well take advantage of that environment and bring it into the classroom. Wikis also allow us the flexibility to engage with any and all students. The shy ones, the class clowns, the intellectuals whenever and however its suits the needs of the class and in a way to get the best of each student.

Discussion forums like those available on Wikispaces are an exceptionally useful tool for getting students more involved in curriculum and creates a sense of equality and commonality among the students in the classroom.

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