Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts on Wikis

I am a big fan of electronic collaboration, and have promoted it in my job as a staff developer as well as in my work with the theater extra-curricular at our high school. However, my experience has been that without some kind of external pressure, getting folks to contribute can be difficult. This fits with other comments about the need for authentic purpose in writing, and the reality is that many folks are not particularly motivated to write. This is not to say that they don't have something to say, but writing is work. I fancy myself a competent writer, and yet absent an external force I rarely do it. At the same time, a collaborative writing forum provides an opportunity for those who ARE motivated to do their writing in a public forum that provides opportunity for synergy. I think that has the potential to be powerful.

An obvious example of where that synergy has worked is Wikipedia itself. Despite critiques from various perspectives, the reality is that Wikipedia is a valuable resource that is becoming increasingly reliable as its data is more routinely vetted by knowledgeable participants. No, it cannot be used without care, but all media should be consumed critically, including published encyclopedias that have the blessing of the establishment.

The Wiki that I am working on for this class is a site that is collecting advice for new teachers. I am the Induction and Mentoring Coordinator for our school district, and I would love to have a more informal and centralized resource for new teachers around the many things that new teachers need to know.

I am also planning on starting a Wiki for our theater department that has policies and procedures that the student leadership can help create.

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