Thinking about Wikis -- from Campus Technology
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Teaching, Learning, and Other Uses for Wikis in Academia:
All Users Are Not Necessarily Created Equal
By Jude Higdon
The Center for Scholarly Technology
University of Southern California
Like many academic technology groups at campuses around the country, the Center for Scholarly Technology (CST) at USC has been wrestling with how to implement various types of social software, such as blogs and wikis, in the classroom. Over the past few years we have found some very good uses for blogs, including peer-reviewed journaling, Just-in-Time Teaching (Novak, et al, 1999), and meta-cognitive reflective practice. While we hit a few stumbling blocks early on, we seemed to be coming to some level of sophistication and adoption with the use of blogs as tools for enhancing teaching and learning as we entered into the 2005-2006 school year.
Use of wikis in the classroom has proved more elusive. While we never like to advocate the use of technology as an end of itself, our group saw great potential in the affordances of the wiki for teaching and learning. Students co-constructing meaning in a democratized digital space has a certain social constructivist (Bandura, 1976) elegance. And yet we struggled to impart this sense of potential to our faculty collaborators. By and large, people didn't seem ready for the freewheeling, uncontrolled wiki environment.
As tends to be the case when we find that our ideas aren't taking root among our faculty, we decided to take a step back this fall and listen hard to find out what needs we could meet, rather than trying to drum up business for a solution to a problem that may not have existed. It took us re-conceptualizing our idealized notion of how a wiki could be useful to our faculty (and to our students), but in the end we did, indeed find regularly articulated needs that the wikis could meet.