Saturday, February 18, 2012

Are My Students Wiki Editors?

I have a classroom wiki ( that I love!  It keeps my Web resources organized and easy to access just as Lamb (2004) suggests.  Duffy and Burns (2006) suggest wikis can allow teachers to share resources and teaching methods.  I collaborated with our literacy coach on a set of literacy pages ( that teachers throughout my school use regularly.  I have invited several teachers to edit and love their contributions!  But I wouldn't DREAM of letting my students edit! 

Well, that's not entirely true.  I did an experiment two years ago with students writing a wiki page based on their research, but it didn't go too well (  They spent more time waiting for their turn to edit the wiki page than they did editing.  They also had to share user ids from one class period to the next and this caused conflict about who had actually entered or deleted things in the wiki.  So I gave up and kept the wiki editing for teachers only.  So I cringed at Duffy and Burns (2006) suggestion of the power of wikis to enable collaborative content creation, peer assessement and formative evaluations.  Was I missing the boat on the power of wikis?

Then I began to wonder if I wasn't using a Wiki of sorts with students.  I began using GoogleApps with students about a year ago.  Our school district created Google accounts for students and teachers who wanted to join the pilot project. A brave teacher, Cathy Bowman, agreed to take the adventure with me.   I showed her the basics that I new about GoogleDocs and suggested that her students would like being able to start a document at school and finish it at home.  Cathy and I moved slowly, first showing it to the students on the projector in her classroom before sending home permission slips.  Then we scheduled one entire session on logging in.  The students took to it like ducks to water and were pushing us to do more, faster.  Soon they were sharing documents, commenting on each other's writing and creating documents faster than I could take attendance.

Are GoogleDocs one page wikis?  They seem to fulfill many of the descriptions listed by Lamb in "Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not". 
  • anyone can change anything - you can make your GoogleDoc public and anyone can edit then
  • "softsecurity" can be employed for GoogleDocs shared by many people or made public
  • common way to use wikis is to create an agenda and then turn it into meeting notes - teachers at our school are using GoogleDocs for their PLC agendas and notes
  • training is minimal - users new to GoogleDocs typically only need a few minutes of instruction
  • creating a page is much easier than using a typical HTML editor - creating a document in GoogleDocs is VERY quick
  • ease students into writing for public consumption - students can easily share their writing with a small or large group of readers, giving them read only or edit privileges
So what do you think?  Are my students becoming Wiki editors when they use GoogleDocs?

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