Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

Using a wiki

I’ve used a wiki many times in the past, but either I was editing pages by myself, or with my students. Never have I used a wiki with a group of people who all have some expertise in the topic we are editing. The exercise we completed as a class was an interesting experience for me because of the opportunity to see a wide variety of people writing.

Besides the content being better, another thing that was different was how well the page was organized. Most of the time, when students create a page, they don’t include a sensible table of contents, etc… They need to be trained. Working with people who have used wiki’s a lot before helped a lot in this area.

Often when people have little experience with a wiki, they feel uncomfortable editing each other’s work. Without a willingness to jump in and change someone else’s words, the wiki either stagnates or bloats. Wikipedia doesn’t suffer from this problem largely because most of the edits are anonymous, and from people we don’t know. Somehow we are more willing to change some unknown person’s work than one of our peers. Students, with some training, will sometimes change each other’s work. Usually they will leave a comment suggesting a chance rather than making the change themselves.

Although I’ve used a wiki in the past, I found this a useful exercise. I think the act of reflecting on acts we have done (even many times) really helps understand the theory behind what we do.