Tuesday, February 26, 2013

E-mail is So Last Century - Start Collaborating With a Wiki!

I remember way back when I was in graduate school and my colleagues and I were given the responsibility of collaborating with each other in order to complete a group project on a topic in education.  Our group divided the major topic into subtopics among the members of the group.  Then we exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses in order to communicate with each other and then the collaboration began.  Each member of the group completed his or her tasks and e-mailed the other members.  The problem was that our e-mail inboxes became flooded with group e-mails.  On top of that, in order to modify information that was submitted by a fellow group member, we had two options, neither of which was better.

1) We could copy and paste the original text into the body of the new e-mail we are preparing to send, then add our new message in a different color of text or different style of font.
2) Just reply to that message (without copying and pasting the original text) but make sure others have access to the original text in order to refer to the previous e-mail.

Just typing the above scenario alone is confusing me.  If only we would have been able to set up a wiki in order to ease our group communicative and collaborative efforts.  By using Wikispaces among educators or even in a classroom for the purpose of collaboration, the process of communicating with each other is much smoother.  Here are some of the many benefits of using Wikis in Education:

1. Easy to Use - Wikis are very easy to set-up.  Creating a general wikispace is free and can be customized to meet your needs.  Just visit http://www.wikispaces.com/ to get started.  Then click on the Education tab.

2. Gather Internet Resources - It is very easy to build a great wiki with content from anywhere on the web.  Widgets like video, calendars, and visitor counters can make your wiki more attractive, engaging, and useful.

3. Learn from your peers - Every educational wiki lets you organize members into project-related teams, each with its own pages, files, and permissions.

4.  Deeper engagement with the course material - With a Wiki you are able to create a discussion forum for the whole wiki, answer questions on a page, or leave comments on any passage of any page.

5.  Out-of-classroom/Asynchronous learning - Wiki members can access the wikispace 24x7 from anywhere in the world.  No more excuses for being absent from class.

6.  Flexibility and scalability - You can determine who sees content and how they use it with wiki-, page-, and file-level permissions.  In addition, you can make changes to any page on your wiki from any computer or web-enabled device with the click of a button.

Here are some examples of how Wikis can be used in Education:

  • Student Portfolios
  • Professional Development
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Student Assignments
  • Curriculum Planning
  • Distance Learning

There are so many possibilities.  I wish I would have been able to use wikis when I was completing group assignments.  Using a wikispace would have enabled my group to complete the assignments much more efficiently and also would have kept it much more organized.  I know there are those who oppose using wikis as a means of collaboration.  These opponents claim, "Wikis are so 2008."  My response to them is that if they have something better to offer, than please pass it along my way.  Perhaps create a Wikispace to collaborate on collaboration?

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