Wikis in the classroom: contrasting views

In separate conversations with Steve Margetts and James Farmer last night, the question of wikis came up again, with very differing views expressed.

Steve, brimming with enthusiasm*

Again your blog compels me to put fingers to keyboard… my favourite idea for it to date is a Wiki type site. I had a lengthy discussion with a friend of mine on Saturday about how it could be achieved. We arrived at the same conclusion as you did to be honest – you need someone to edit and keep it up to date. I think my next site will be a Wiki type site…

James, more cautious

Wikis as a whole aren’t the greatest things…I think that getting a bit of wikiness into many different things can be very good but they’re not communication tools and in the end it’s all about communication…

They enable communities in the same way as town squares do, good for protests & focussed groups but not much point for our everyday lives…

James documented his experience last year in a piece he called also referenced a thought-provoking article by Heather James entitled My Brilliant Failure: Wikis in Classrooms. Well worth a read if you are thinking about using wikis in school.

Personally, I still love ’em, and for pragmatic reasons. We’ve built a fabuluous encyclopedia of ICT for our GCSE in Applied ICT course with so much less work that was required for the equivalent GCSE in Applied Business, which used a static site for the encyclopedia.

If, after reading James’ reservations you still want to play with wikis in the classroom, drop me a line and I’ll try to sort you out some free hosting on our education-tweaked Zwiki server.

*in fairness, Steve only has one mode.

Update: Thanks James for pointing out the mis-attribution of My Brilliant Failure.

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