WikiEd Tutorial Development/Pedagogy of the wiki

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A new way of learning

Dear reader,

If you want to get started here with us in WikiEducator, you probably would like to know, why we use a wiki to produce and present open educational resources (OER).
And then how you can make best use of it for your personal purposes.
This tutorial will give you some general outlines for this; tell you something about the philosophy and spirit of our work.

WikiEducator is a learning community, e.g. a community of learners. Don’t worry if you are a teacher like me (smile); we are all engaged in lifelong learning.
If you get unhappy now, because your idea of learning is to read texts and afterwards memorize the facts for an exam, and this is not exactly what you want do do now, don’t worry. For us learning is something much more colourful, lively and entertaining: it is the increasingly skilled participation in the WikiEducator learning environment. In special it is not something passive or receptive but rather something active and productive.

What we want to do is building knowledge, first knowledge about how to produce OER here in our wiki, because this is a fairly new science, and second content.
Of course we are looking how the Wikipedians did it, but a wiki for educational materials is still something much more complex than simply an online encyclopaedia. The main and revolutionary point in this is that we will be authoring collectively, e.g. a great variety of people from many countries will contribute.
And therefore we are using a wiki, software that provides a comfortable surface with a powerful database under the hood that makes the database publicly accessible.

As you will have remarked, we are using the computer for our learning. No, not the computer is teaching us! If you’re not so sure I can surely tell you: computers are not really intelligent themselves, but only obey the rules, their creators have implemented in them. The computer is helping us; it is an instrument of support for our learning community. As this it has two roles.

  • 1) It gives technical support.
  • 2) It gives social support to our community.

Together this equals to socio-technical support.
But I also should tell you that our knowledge about the best socio-technical support for us is still very limited, and we are constantly developing new ideas.

The background of all this is called web 2.0, the new computational infrastructure including new internet-based communication media (like email, blog or wiki) who really bring the world together, and new web applications like networks, social software, databases and powerful search engines.

Behaviour and Information Technology
"Computer support for learning communities"
Vol. 26, No. 1, January-February 2007
Taylor and Francis, Oxon, UK
facts extracted from the editorial

What is a wiki, and what is WikiEducator?

  • A wiki is a so called social software that uses a database for bringing some order to a variety of information. Anyone who feels dedicated to education can read, modify or add content on WikiEducator. You can see the wiki in WikiEducator as a source for educational materials (texts, pictures, audios, videos etc)
  • The need for a special platform for educational content has risen, because the World Wide Web is too wide as information source, and most of the content is not useful in education for various reasons.
  • WikiEducator is something like a “protected space”.
  • The licence we use on WikiEducator is a free licence. There are no restrictions for whatever purpose to use the material.
  • The wiki format can be characterized by “short, clear, linked, easy to access” and - unfortunately - “sometimes too chaotic”.
  • The materials on WikiEducator and the editing software will be available online and offline.
  • The content can be used in various educational contexts. If it doesn’t fit to your needs, you are free to adapt and modify every entry.
  • The content can be embedded in various pedagogical concepts. You can use it for conventional instruction (“content-centred”) or progressive ways of teaching and learning (f. ex. “learner-centred constructivist pedagogies”.
  • We try to assure high quality of the teaching materials. They will be tested, up-to-date and well-balanced by multiple points of view. This is granted by a lively and continuous process of peer-review, which parallels the method used in sciences.
  • The marketplace for WikiEducator is the COL-member countries in the developing world, but in the end the whole world, as there are no restrictions for participation whatsoever.
  • You can see WikiEducator as a telecommunity of people who share the same ideals and values about open educational resources as stated on our main page. It can be also seen as a community of practice organized around the development of open educational resources in the Internet.
  • WikiEducator is a relatively young project (started in around May 2006).
  • WikiEducator is promoted, like usual in free and open source programs, by a core group of volunteers from all corners of the globe, linked via the Internet.
  • Warnings: Be aware of the danger of superficial information in stead of deep reaching education! Be aware of the tendency of a wiki to get more and more chaotic.

If you are a teacher, what makes participation attractive for you?

Publishing your personal educational materials in the Internet can add new dimensions to your teaching:

  • Self-publishing: You become an author yourself. It is your personal work that adds value to an international project!
  • Benevolent intentions: If you have the dream to contribute with your professional knowledge to the welfare of the youth of the developing world, you will find a platform here in WikiEducator. Share what you have learned with those who are still ignorant but want to learn!
  • Expand the radius of your teaching: If you feel restricted to your own classroom and school and want to spread your knowledge, use modern information and communication technologies! Make your locally valued resources globally available! Upload your personal teaching notes for the world to be seen!
  • Learning experience for yourself: The author of an article always learns most, about the subject, about the students and about himself! New perspectives will open up for your work!
  • Try out yourself: Try out, how good you are in your subject. You will get feedback on your work. Try out how well you can design a lesson or even a course!
  • New teaching experience: Experience the stimulating process of collaborative authoring. You don’t have to do everything on you own, there are colleagues all around the globe who will help you!
  • Self-esteem: If you experience that your work is commonly appreciated, this will rise your self-esteem. It also probably suits your ego.
  • Reputation: If you want to get known as highly valued author, you get a platform here.
  • Communication: If you like to take part in discussions about your subject, the pedagogic of your subject or education in general, you can find various forums associated with WikiEducator.
  • Value education: Maybe you would like to educate the youth of the world to develop values like “global responsibility”. You are most welcome!
  • Empowering the poor: If you are living f. ex. in an African country you can surely think of a remote living poor community with great disadvantages in access to education. Especially for them, locally produced materials are of grate importance, as high barriers of language and culture have to be overcome. You could do a incredible job already by translating a valued resource into its native language!
  • Lots of work has to be done with educational resources: especially re-contextualization and enculturation. We don’t want new forms of cultural imperialism!
  • Opportunity to be an integral part of WikiEducator, and become a WikiNeighbour for other teachers

A Vision for the Use of WikiEducator in Education in the Developing World

Further material for this tutorial (work in progress)

Views on a wiki for open educational resources

Learner’s view on the wiki:
The wiki is a tool for a learner centred process of acquiring knowledge: The leaner uses it to quickly get the needed information for his learning process (“wiki-wiki“, rapid information source).

Thus the content has to be

  • valuable
  • up to date
  • well presented
  • in a language that is understood by the learner
  • with well done linkages

Authors view on the wiki:

  • Taking part in the editing process of the wiki is for an educator a possibility to realize professional ambitions.
  • For a student, editing is a method of learning.
  • Collaborative authoring is a valuable experience, f. ex. to learn how to integrate multiple points of view.
  • Some educators may want to do some development aid.
  • For some educators, a wiki is a means of accompanying the own tuition.

Meta view on the wiki:

  • Wikipedia statistics show: In the whole online community, 99.8 % are passive users, 0.2 % are sometimes active authors and only a very small 0.003 % are very active contributors. [1]
  • In the starting process of a wiki, meta discussion is very much needed: (“why, how, when, who”) and takes sometimes a long time.
  • Discussions are at the beginning often extremely technical.
  • Authors are very reluctant to change what already has been fixed,especially the work of experts (f. ex. university teachers) is unlikely to be changed by another author: You can say in such a case, this is already the “end” of the article!

This collection of ideas is still very incomplete. Please feel free to add your own experiences!

Pedagogy of the Wiki These are examples of the kinds of questions we receive at WikiEducator on a regular basis. While there are no simple answers to these questions, this tutorial will shed some light on these issues from the perspective the values which underpin our community.

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Have you ever wondered about the following issues:
  • What is the pedagogy behind using a wiki in the educational setting?
  • What pedagogical theories apply to collaborative wiki use?

Wiki Pedagogy

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In your view, what pedagogical practices are applied when collaboratively building a wiki?
  • Go to Google Scholar and search for a number of different terms associated with pedagogy and the Web 2.0. This list can include; elearning, pedagogy, web 2.0, blogging, wiki, podcasting, tagging and others. Be creative, download documents, be prepared to do a little reading.
  • Do the same search at Google, Yahoo
  • You should now have a small collection of references to pedagogy and the Web 2.0, in particular wikis. Create a list of the pedagogical theories that you believe relate to wiki use. Add to each item listed why you believe the theory applies to wiki use.
  • Be prepared to share this list in the discussion group.

Wiki Design patterns The use of patterns within technology development has grown grown considerably since the idea of architectural design patterns were first introduced by Christopher Alexander. For a brief history on design patterns visit the wikipatterns web page. How do patterns apply to educational wikis? The wikipatterns site does an excellent job of identifying the different wiki patterns. How they can be used within an educational context is the goal of this learning activity.

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In your view, what are the different ways that a wiki can be used? What wiki patterns are best suited as learner roles? How could the aforementioned wiki "patterns" be used in educational settings?
  • Be prepared to identify and rationalize the wiki patterns most conducive to learning in the discussion group.