Wiki’s in more depth

May 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm (Web 2.0, Wiki, Wiki)

This is post is in reply to Kay’s comments on my initial post Collaboration +Communication= Wiki. Kay had some pertant questions (in italics)  regarding wiki’s that I will attempt to answer below.

You wrote:
“…formed within the group can also be tested against ‘real world’ conditions. While this may expose students to extreme views of society it also can act as a mirror to the group perceptions especially those that don’t conform to social norms while at the same time providing an opportunity to examine those norms.”

Can you give an example of this?

Muijs, Ainscrow, Chapman & West (2011) highlight  that constructivist theory assumes that  individuals or groups are ‘sense making’ systems and as such create understanding using existing perceptions or interpretations. In extreme examples this understanding may be skewed from societal norms. An  example of this would be gang members in modern society who some believe struggle with applying lower-class cultural norms to those of the middle class majority (Thornberry, Krohn, Lizotte, & Smith, 2003). In a classroom environment these perceptions would hopefully not be as extreme but may still be present.  If we apply Kolb’s Experimental Learning Model (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2005), students may create flawed abstract concepts which could become concrete if not fully validated in a new environment. An open wiki like Wikipedia can enable this ‘validity’ exposure which may be lacking from internal group dialogue.

 You wrote:
“…personalisation as one of the stand out features of a wiki when used for students
who don’t fit into the educational middle ground (either under or over achievers).”

What do you see as the implications for the under and overachievers in wiki use?

Wiki’s and other Web 2.0 applications by their very nature allow the personalisation to individual requirements.  Students can add, delete, or alter content whenever they wish. They can create content in a variety of formats that suits their own learning style. It is this access to resources, ‘material and human’ that Knowles et al (2005) point to as an essential component of effective learning. For motivated learners (over achievers), the Wiki format offers a chance to explore their own creativity providing them with a challenging learning environment that includes an element of feedback (Adams & Hamm, 2005).  It is this feedback, in the form of external editing of their posted information that can enable critical thinking that may not be possible in a traditional learning environment. For underachievers the Wiki format allows them to explore learning using methods and content that they are more comfortable with. Videos, audio, and pictures all offer alternative ways learning can be expressed by learners that may struggle with text based methods.  The challenge of using a wiki or any other Web2.0 application is that the curriculum needs to be adaptive enough to allow these applications to be utilised and assessed.

You wrote:
“…a wikis ability to utilise, embed and interact with other Web 2.0 tools means that it may outlive some of the more recent application developments.”

I was wondering what the more recent applications are that you are referring to and why they will not last as long as a wiki.

With the use of technology in education comes the risk of obsolescence.  This is very relevant with software, and especially with Web 2.0 applications whose developers rely on the masses to interact with their product to provide a revenue stream and ensuring the application continues to exist . The difference that I can see between a Wiki and some of the other applications, is in the way in which they are utilised. Applications such as Twitter, and Facebook,  are  social tools first and educational/business tools second. The continued existence of these social applications is dependant on whether people still use them.  MySpace and Bebo are two examples of social-based applications that have quickly fallen by the wayside. In contrast wiki based applications like Wikipedia,  are used as on-line references and as such are independent of social trends and to me this implies longevity.

Isn't the collective noun of 'dude', dudes?

Overall I see you are well aware of the benefits. What are some of the barriers to implementation that you might see requiring guidance from the teacher?

As I pointed out in my previous blog post, the greatest asset of a Wiki, its openness, maybe also be its weakness.  Ideally a Wiki would be left open to allow content to be changed, updated, or corrected. This however can also allow ‘Wiki Vandalism’ (McGlynn, 2011) where content is changed to something humorous or slanderous, or just plain incorrect. If this vandalism is repeated then the student may feel bullied and may become less inclined to participate. If the Wiki is part of an assessment this could result in the student failing or receiving a lesser grade than they deserve.  For the facilitator the use of Wikis may mean that they would have to establish some ground rules before the students start to utilise them in an educational setting. Using real names, correct referencing, and reporting any acts of vandalism, are all rules that could be applied however this will not stop external users (or covert group members) from committing the same acts.

The use of any Web 2.0 application can be fraught with danger and as educator we need to understand the downsides of any technology we use. This should not put us off utilising them however, because ultimately it is these technologies that our students identify and feel most comfortable with. And by using them we can continue to create the engagement and participation that is the objective of education.


Adams, D., & Hamm, M. (2005). Redefining Education in the Twenty-first Century : Shaping Collaborative Learning in the Age of Information   Retrieved from

Knowles, P. D., Malcolm S., Holton, I., Ed.D., Elwood F., & Swanson, P. D., Richard A. (2005). The Adult Learner : The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development   Retrieved from

McGlynn, K. (2011). The funniest acts of Wikipedia vandalism ever (pictures)  Retrieved 14 May, 2011, from

Muijs, D., Ainscow, M., Chapman, C., & West, M. (2011). Collaboration and Networking in Education. London: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg.

Thornberry, T. P., Krohn, M. D., Lizotte, A. J., & Smith, C. A. (2003). Gangs and delinquency in development prespective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


1 Comment

  1. thomcochrane said,

    Great to see some collaborative discussion happening on your blog!
    Wikis do of course come in a whole variety – with most having options for limiting who can edit, creating more closed communities that use these tools to build knowledge and artifacts that are relevant to that community but also shared with the wider world. A couple of examples being, and Peanut Butter Wiki . PBWiki has morphed into a commercial enterprise – somewhat as Ning did for social networks. Wikis can also be used as simple web-publishing platforms rather than collaborative spaces as such as well. I like using wiki pages for presentations rather than Powerpoint – as a wiki is available online and provides the tools to generate collaborative discussion if wanted.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: