Pedagogies of Wikis - #2c

At an EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative meeting, Jude Higdon from the University of Southern California proposed the following pedagogies based on their pilot projects:

  • Student journaling – similar to blogging, students “engage in meta-cognitive reflection” (p.2). Using a wiki, however, a collaborative approach allows for social reflection.
  • Personal portfolios – wikis can serve as an organizational framework for demonstrating accomplishments. The benefit of a wiki over a webpage or blog once again focuses on the collaboration factor; however, that certainly intrudes on the “personal” nature of the portfolio.
  • Collaborative knowledge base – this is the traditional and original use of wikis. The value is not only the social collaboration, but also the construction and production of knowledge. The infrastructure of a wiki is ideal for students to share information, query for further understanding, argue and debate concepts, and synthesize their learning.
  • Research coordination and collaboration – a specific way to tap into the collaborative knowledge base previously mentioned. The ability to provide various levels of access (read only or read/write) allows for others to see the process without disturbing the content.
  • Curricular and cross-disciplinary coordination – this centrality is primarily aimed at faculty in planning for interdisciplinary learning.
  • Conference and colloquia web site/coordination – again the framework provides an organizational focus, as well as a resource of informational wealth.
  • Syndicating/aggregating web resources – this feature of Web 2.0 and the social-networking platforms is available for wikis, which is critical for our new anytime/anywhere learning environment.
  • Inter-term management – useful for long-term projects that span over semesters or years.

The participatory nature of wikis sets the stage for developmental and transformational learning. At this point, I envision using a wiki at my school in three steps. A wiki for postsecondary vocational adult students could be used for journaling purposes primarily to check for understanding of concepts (i.e., after difficult units of instruction) and reflection (i.e., clinical or coop experiences) and secondarily to improve writing skills. Many of our students have not succeeded in the traditional disciplines, but improve their skills throughout their vocational coursework with the “hands-on” approach. The application of reading and writing not only through their content preference, but also via the kinesthetic and real-world technological tool is considerably more desirable. Using wikis in this way would also be an introduction to the public nature of sharing their writing skills and their ideas. The adults at our school range in age from 17 to 60+ with an equal diversity span of technology skills, but the majority have not experienced social software.

A second step would be to use existing wikis (i.e., Wiki Liver) and/or build new depositories as content resources and to add content to the existing structure. Most of our courses are riddled with new vocabulary and processes/concepts needed to effectively apply their knowledge in a career field.

In order to really capture the social and collaborative strength of a wiki however, we need to move into projects that would be structured by the instructor to engage students in building their own knowledge base. There are a variety of challenges in doing this third step, to include assessment and control of the instructor, but without moving to this dimension, we “undermine the effectiveness of the tool” (Lamb, 2004, p. 45). I would encourage the use of higher-level thinking skills in developing scenarios or problem-based learning, which would model the teamwork and reality of their chosen vocations.

Wikis are a relatively new concept and there is not much research in the field, but I hope to explore topics related to social constructivism for extrapolation to wikis in next week’s postings.

Higdon, J. (2006). Pedagogies of Wikis. Presented at EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative meetings. Retrieved March 18, 2006 from

Lamb, B. (2004). Wide open spaces: Wikis, ready or not. EDUCAUSE Review (39, 5) pp. 36 – 48. Retrieved March 16, 2006 from


At 2:58 PM, Blogger Rick Ferdig said...

"Wikis are a relatively new concept and there is not much research in the field, but I hope to explore topics related to social constructivism for extrapolation to wikis in next week’s postings."

I think this is a great strategy. I would also consider looking at research that has attempted to pedagogically do the same thing...even if it wasn't with wikis. I think that's what you're talking about in terms of looking at the theoretical perspectives...but I would also encourage you to look at technologies that have attempted similar strategies. Check out the 5th Dimension work (Nicolopoulou and Cole). Also check out the stuff formerly known as CSILE (Scardamalia & Bereiter). :)

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Marie C said...

Thanks for the tips! And yes, that was my thought regarding the theoretical perspectives - we'll see what I'm able to uncover...

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Joshua O said...

Your specification of the different learning outcomes from the learner's use of wiki's is very detailed and pragmatic. I like how you identified the improved writing and reading skills that will be developed during the primary exchange and discussion of knowledge that will occur on the vocational wiki.

As your learners have already selected a vocation I agree that your wiki's should be scenario and problem based, enhancing their specific knowledge base in their chosen field. You are doing a great job in focusing your research. How have your findings on the different uses of wiki's and learning theories shaped your ideas for the technology needs for your vocational wiki?


At 11:22 PM, Blogger M. Yates said...

Marie, I like your use of Wiki's to demonstrate mastery learning in the adult ed setting. This is an interesting and nonconfrontational for adults to slowly show their improvement by adding to and correcting their own pages.

Marie Y.


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