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Contemplating the Wiki

August 31, 2008

Yesterday I was contemplating the Wiki. I know, strange thing to do on a Saturday afternoon, but when you’re in any kind of educational field, you have to sort of go with the flow as to when ideas come to you.

So, what makes a Wiki a Wiki? Is it the fact that it can be edited, or that ANYONE can edit it? Is it the content on the page? Would this blog be better in Wiki form where my thoughts could be edited by anyone at any time, until they no longer were my thoughts, but a collective agreement (or at least the last edit of) what might have been going through my mind when I sat down at my laptop today?

There is probably more than one truth hidden in that paragraph above. There is something that makes a project like Wikipedia work, and a Wiki on my personal thoughts not such a good idea.

Short of locking down a Wiki so only some can edit (perhaps because I only want my class to be able to contribute), or relentlessly trying to exercise editorial control (to shape the product as I guide my students) how might I teach what a Wiki is to teachers ~ especially if they are NOT technology savvy?

I came up with an interesting idea. I still have to iron out the details, but I was thinking of taking 15-20 or so photographs in a particular location – maybe around Millennium Park in Chicago, or around an old working farm in the area. I already do some work where we talk about “perspective” in class, and I think that is probably a good point to introduce the Wiki.

As the first person in class is asked to look at their picture and “describe” what he or she sees, I then record that up on an open document, and ask the second person to add anything they might be able to from their picture. As we go around the room, I imagine that the edits will get better, or at least the picture more complete, as we draw upon the knowledge of the collective one sentence at a time.

Now, to round up a few photographs on something that will lend itself to this project well. Any suggestions?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2008 3:09 pm

    I would go to Flickr. The Library of Congress has a flickr account:

  2. September 24, 2008 2:06 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful way to explain wikis and demonstrate their usefulness. Thanks for the idea!


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