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Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Wikis - advantages and disadvantages

A wiki is a universally-editable website with minimal formatting. The word comes from the Hawaiian wiki-wiki which means "quick".

Advantages of using wikis in learning and teaching

  • No special software needed
  • Immediate posting of content
  • Low graphics content - fast loading
  • Simple or complex hypertext structure as required
  • Can have email notification of new content
  • Can track changes
  • Can have associated discussions
  • Can easily link to other wikis and websites
  • If students do not like what they see, such as the approach taken by others, they may be more inclined to participate in order to propose an alternative approach.
  • Facilitates collaborative and constructivist approaches to learning
  • Students can see what they are learning

Although it is "new" technology in learning, wikis could soon move into the "Pets' Corner" or familiar area of the Media Zoo.

Disdvantages of using wikis in learning and teaching

  • Students reluctant to make public unfinished working documents
  • Students reluctance to let others contribute changes.
  • Students very competitive about changes
  • All content modifiable including pages for instructions, handouts etc.
  • Simultaneous edits are allowed but not successful
  • No standardised markup/spellcheck - formatting is basic
  • No equations or drawing
  • Institutional wikis vs external wikis: using external wikis brings problems of copyright, ownership, continuity, etc.
  • Institutional IT policies: still relies on an infrastructure that enables the permissions to be set appropriately (e.g., some universities allow wikis to be editable only by those with University accounts)
  • The wiki is forever evolving.
  • Not really appropriate for tracking contributions or discussion, following individual students
  • When new to both tutors and students lack of familiarity causes problems: can cause confusion and lack of clarity
  • Staff opposition to student collaboration
  • Research shows that on moving to an online environment, even groups that already know one another well face-to-face have to go through the access and socialisation stages, albeit in a more abbreviated manner, to be able to work together collaboratively in an effective manner.

(For reference list see this post)

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posted by Helen Whitehead 9:01 AM

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Helen Whitehead's blog of e-learning, digital literacy, online writing, and digital creativity.

Which methods and techniques using new technologies are of real use?

Writing in the digital age is so much more than delivering information, or traditional stories and poems electronically. Digital forms of literature can include text, hyperlinks, multi-linear plots, superlinear narrative, graphics, interactivity, animation... and so much more.

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