Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Deconstructing the Wiki Decision

Educator Christian Long writes on using Wikis in the classroom. I'm not an educator, and my kid isn't one of Mr. Long's students, but I sure would like to see similar tools used in my kid's school. I'm not sure how particularly useful they would be in kindergarten, but editing that linked article as a class project would be fun.

That said, how likely is it that students are interested, under their own power, in editing a wiki? Based on my experience that only about 5% of readers tend to be contributors, I think it might be difficult - but of course, the percentage in an English class might be higher. Students around here are asked sometimes to edit Wikipedia or Bloomingedia as a class assignment; for example this article:

http://www.bloomingpedia.org/wiki/Amused_Clothing

was obviously written by a local teen. But if you look at the contributor's history, he copied in the bulk of the article on March 30th, came back and fiddled with it a few days later, and then never came back again.

Now, Mr. Long isn't having his kids put their essays on the wiki - at least not yet! But if, or when, it occurs, I wonder whether an English class discussion wiki would really work on its own terms without constant prompting by teachers. I suspect it could, if it is linked to the real world somehow. I'll be following the experiment with interest.