Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wiki Wasteland?

At the recent IL-TCE conference, I had the opportunity to present on Flickr and the classroom use of wikis. For both presentations, I created wiki pages to give participants a venue for contribution and collaboration about these topics while at the conference and after the conference. My intent was to take advantage of the enormous expertise that was present in the audience (cumulatively, about 350 people in three presentations) to extend the conference experience, and begin building community. I also posted the wiki addresses on my weekly blog entry to invite their readership to contribute as well.

I got one response. Thanks, Charlene.

I was certainly disappointed but I guess the outcome should not have been unexpected. Wikis are new-not many in my presentations knew what they were or how they worked. So, I think this might be how it has to start-you've got to throw it out there, get it in front of people, and see what happens. And do it again.

The potential power of the tool to take advantage of what we know collectively, and share it for the benefit of all, is compelling. Yet more work needs to be done in preparing teachers to become collaborators. I sometimes think that this is an unnatural behavior, or act, for many educators, especially those in the secondary arena. As a former high school teacher myself, it was difficult to work together-how many hurdles do teachers face on a daily basis that prevent collaboration? Schools aren't exactly set up for that, are they? So, perhaps a digital environment that is available on a 24/7 asynchronous basis might address this issue.

IL-TCE offered a blog for the first time this year and invited many to contribute. That was a powerful first step-and it was very successful. How many will contribute next year? And even more important, how many posts will be made to the blog after the conference this year? We'll have to see.

What if the conference organizers were to add a conference wiki next year? After the numerous presentations on the topic this year, people may be ready to begin contributing next year.

The sooner teachers do, the sooner the tool will be in the hands of the kids.


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