Over the past year I’ve really learned how to leverage wikis as a learning tool and place to host meaningful learning activities online. This post assumes that you have already created a wiki site in WetPaint. Some people don’t like WetPaint because it’s editing quirks, but it seems like one of the better web based wiki aps with WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) features. Here’s my attempt to share my knowledge. Although these activities are geared around teaching writing they structure of the wiki pages can be applied to almost any subject.
If you are not sure how to set up your wiki refer to the instructions on the WetPaint FAQs page here: http://www.wetpaintcentral.com/page/FAQ
The following steps will explain three page designs that can be used to teach writing:
- Analyze a piece of writing
- Demonstrate a writing skill
- Writing in collaboration with others
Analyze a piece of writing:
- Students can analyze a piece of writing on the wiki page. First, add a wiki page. If you are not sure how to add a page refer to these instructions on the WetPaint FAQs page: http://www.wetpaintcentral.com/page/Add+Page . Title your wiki page as you see fit.
- Add you own instructions to the top of the page.
- Below the instructions, insert a table with one column and one row. This is where you will insert the piece of writing you wish the students to analyze. If you are not sure how to insert a table, refer to these instructions on the WetPaint FAQs page: http://www.wetpaintcentral.com/page/Add+Table Once you have created the table insert the text of the writing you wish the students to analyze. Refer the image for an example.
- Create a second table that allows students to log their analysis of the writing. The can make individual points per row in the table. They must always label their comments with their name and identifier. Refer to this image for an example of a table. Save your wiki page.
- Click the image to view a full sized version
Demonstrate a writing skill
Students can also practice a writing skill. Create a new wiki page and title it appropriately. Add your instructions to the top of the page.
Below the instructions, create a table with three columns and enough cells for your students to add a written sample plus one additional cell. See the image below for an example.
Students will write their sample writing piece in each available cell. They should identify their writing by including their name or initials at the end.
Writing in collaboration with others
Writing in collaboration with others in a wiki can be fun as long as the rules are clear to all participants You should restrict the number of people who can collaborate on a piece to no more than six. You can create several versions of the same page and assign groups of students to each version.
- Create a version of the page and make multiple copies as needed.
- Assign a color to each student in the group. This is the color that they will use to add their writing.
- Establish a set of rules for the students including information on how to do the following:
- Edit others work
- Providing suggestions
- Taking turns editing the page
The official abstract… of my presentation with Celeste Spencer.
Podcasting and wikis provide a vehicle for corporations to explore social and collaborative learning in a non-traditional manner, while including the major principles of adult learning theories. Wikis make an excellent collaborative tool for project communication allowing a team to conduct real-time content development with subject matter experts. Some of the benefits of using wikis this way include asynchronous collaboration between global teams and an easily accessible way for training developers and subject matter experts to work on content together. As a living project knowledge base, wikis provide a way for teams to collect and track collaboration from project inception to deployment and beyond. Podcasting is a convenient, easy, on-demand media tool that allows learners to find solutions or learn from the experience of others across the global divide. With minimal time and financial investment, podcasting allows for a rapid training deployment, experiential learning and the passing on of tribal knowledge.
This presentation will discuss examples of how a training team designed and applied wiki usage to collaborate and communicate during a project. Emphasis will be on how to leverage the features and the ‘informal’ nature of wikis to both the training team and subject matter expert’s advantage. This presentation will also recount how an instructional designer utilized podcasting to leverage U.S. based management and technical leadership expertise. Experiences and key learnings of senior leaders were captured and provided in a ‘pull’ format to employees in 2 international sites. Emphasis will be on the benefits of collecting leadership expertise and broadcasting it to a wider audience allowing the listeners an opportunity to learn from leaders regardless of their physical location.
(Ideally I’d like to post and .swf with audio of this presentation- considering my time and project constraints, I won’t be able to do this for a little bit)
Published July 4, 2007
Blogs , Collaboration , Collaboration Tools , Education , Podcasting , Stuff I love , Technology , Training , Web 2.0 , Wikis
Wonderful stuff! A New Zealand teacher, Allanah King, explains her and her classroom/school’s journey through the world of web 2.0 (social tagging, blogging and podcasting).
It’s just a reminder of how rich learning can be with technology and using the web. Now how could the powers that be choose to limit this? In this example, each classroom had a blog and students could post news and responses to what they were learning about. A natural network of collaboration was set up because students could post comments to each other’s blog postings.
I love how the students got to watch the Clustermap of their blog to see who was looking at their site. It would be a great segue into a geography lesson.
Download: Posted by AllanahK at TeacherTube.com.
Haza has provided a terrific summary of what Web 2.0. offerings (blogs, wikis, podcasting, rss feeds, etc.) can bring to an informal and more democratic learning solutions.
It occurs to me often that within a learning environment that cherishes and values the ‘formal’ training experience, it’s very difficult to get people to understand or embrace these concepts and how they apply to learning: democratic and informal.
I believe that the difficulty comes from a number of assumptions and values that have been built around the way “learning should happen.” Some of these assumptions aren’t just corporate learning environment related, their origins link back into the world of academia. Part of my training in college was to determine what the causes of argument against a position were and then attempt to correct or reverse them. For now I only have the time to list a few here so I will start with two. Also, I’d like to save my counter argument against these for another post.
- Democracy in learning - assumption that counters- The teacher/instructor or expert is the center of the learning environment – not the Student or end user.
- The teacher is the boss and must run the show
- The learner/student must be passive and just soak information in rather than learn it actively
- Only experts can provide this information not peers
- Informal learning- assumption that counters- You cannot measure or track informal learning. In corporate training much of our focus has been on evaluation, we must be able to measure that we’re doing our job and that learning is happening.
- This is why we do Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, etc. evaluations
- This is why we count butts in seats or how many courses/learning interventions we do*
- Informal learning maybe be harder to evaluate for performance success (except if you are attributing all performance behaviors to the informal learning environment that you’ve set up – i.e. performance behaviors are happening…. period)
I also have a hunch that the very nature of corporate life implies ‘the formal.’ Naturally, saying things are informal or even organic may go counter to the corporate grain. Jay Cross notes that his message about “informal learning” found either a hot or cold reception from the audience at the ASTD TechKnowledge conference.
I believe that its worth exploring the application of the “informal” and “democratic” to learning environments. However, I think we need to understand why these same concepts may not be adopted by members “the Body.” Jay Cross draws the analogy of application of “informal learning” as being similar to landscaping a garden. I’m going to draw out this analogy a little further and suggest that some of the counter-assumptions against the informal/democratic development of learning environments are rocks or items in the garden. As a gardener you can do one of two things:
- Pull the rocks out
- If the rocks are too big, build your landscape around them (or overcome the rocks)
* Which by the way can be part of the problem if we are creating training just to create training. This is often not an intentional move, but sometimes an unintended consequence if your system rewards you for accomplishing things by the number rather than by the actual effect or effect on quality
Through this blog I’ve been exploring the following ideas:
- Informal learning – learning through social networking and informal on-the-job documentation may directly help individuals learn on the job much more quickly and effectively
- Web 2.0 technologies provide easier ways to collaborate electronically with others and thus enable this infomal learning better than ever
- As training organizations we could focus on empowering better social/informal learning rather than producing the traditional costly training end products (face to face training, media rich e-learning). – However, the problem with this is you often have to deal with a lot of crusty managers who think that this is normally built into employee’s job responsibilities (even though it isn’t formally/properly addressed)
If I’m obsessing over focus on informal learning, I considered -what about the formal and more permanent forms or products of learning? How do we make sure that we’re doing an adequate job of capturing what needs to be put in formal form? What about Librarians? What possibilities do they see in applying 2.0 technology? In my searches I found one blogger/librarian, Meridith, who openly discusses the uses and challenges of applying the technology to practice. I’d like to find out and listen more to what bloggers in the library world are doing about 2.0, and hopefully I can keep track of this in future posts.
In reading Meridith’s blog posting, and recounting some of the dialogue I’ve been seeing lately about 2.0 hype, I started to think about how tenuous ideas and proposals are when they first come out. Although Web 2.0 gives us a lot of glitzy promises through it’s beta concepts, 2.0 application in the real-world is still in it’s "toddler years." (It’s just given up crawling, and has started to learn how to walk clumsily on two legs). People in the workforce are really just beginning ot apply things like wikis and blogs, and their exploration of these things naturally will be clunky on the onset. I think as I’ve heard a lot of skeptical discussion about the staying power of blogs that some people are becoming overly saturated with 2.0 hype. However, I still believe that if those of us who enjoy using the technology and benefit from it keep on using it to allow us to grow, learn, expand and collaborate better for success, there’s no reason to assume that 2.0 apps like blogs/wikis have to die away. I think Blogs have been around for at least 4-5 years maybe more… and public awareness has just hit mainstream proportions. Wikipedia is still going strong, and many companies are now adopting use of wiki-software to communicate and collaborate.
I’ve felt that being a tech-evangelist for waves like 2.0 is a tricky position. My feeling is (being the victim of Sharepoint-evangelization or more Sharepoint mandate) don’t force tools down people’s throats - Instead use this approach:
- Understand what the resistance points are to adopting the tools and methodologies
- Understand and get to know the users who will be using the tools
- Just focus on finding out how best they work with the actual users
- Model and demo good examples
- Gather valid/reasonable proof (data) that these tools are achieving your goals
- Share with management (during all of the above steps) – build and communicate in a simple language that they can understand and connect with
I’d like to build out this strategy in more detail, because I’m currently working on a team right now that’s assessing the application of wikis and other new tools to our group.