I love wikis and Wikipedia. I come from a long line for curious engineers who think nothing of hopping up from the dinner table to consult the Encyclopedia Britannica for information or clarification for a discussion in progress. I'm just sorry my Dad didn't live to see it. I was an early contributor to WikiPedia - one of the benefits of living in Silicon Valley - this stuff comes up in meetings of the eLearning Forum (or whatever it was called back then ?? date).
As assignments in my online course, Computers and the Internet in Society, students participate in several wiki-based assignments.
- Wikipedia - find a topic of interest to you or a controversial topic (looking for strengths / weaknesses in articles), check the history and discussion (active discussion and revision history are important sources of information), follow the links to the contributors to see their other work (many contributors do a lot of work, often on a wide range of topics), comment on the accuracy, credibility and utility of the articles selected
- complete a community service learning project and document your work and learning as a wiki article
- work collaboratively in groups of 3-5 to research and produce a wiki presentation for a topic that addresses issues of technology and society
Originally, we used the wiki within Moodle, which is a closed environment viewable only by registered students. The information is really good, so these projects are now being placed in public wikis. Students are reminded about the need for privacy - also a major topic within the course.
Getting students to write collaboratively is still a challenge. I often get one essay per person pasted together with a sentence or two of introduction and summary. A few groups have really worked to integrate the work more seamlessly. By applying a consistent style to the appearance and formatting, students take ownership of the entire project presentation. There isn't a lot of really collaborative writing yet. We are working on this...