Friday, June 01, 2012

Still About Wikis

 As I said in my previous post, I have been using wikis for quite a while. I have also promised to write a little about some of the disadvantages of using wikis.
What led me to use wikis so constantly, despite some of its glitches, was the successful experience we have had with this platform at Casa Thomas Jefferson, the school I work for. We have a wiki with 287 users and 7,605 files and counting. We use it as an intranet portal to post resources for classes (power point presentations, videos, lesson plans) and for communication. 
Wikis, as I said at the beginning of this post, are not a panacea that solve every problem. Like any online tool, it has some problems. One problem I would point out is the fact that comments cannot be individualized for posts. Different form blogs, what wikis give the one posting is a page where many things can be posted, knot individualized, separate posts with the possibility of comments for each individual entry. This make it difficult for the reader to connect comments and posts. So, when commenting, it is necessary sometimes to indicate what you are referring to.
 Another problem, especially if you choose to use Pbworks, is that editing is flash based. This can be a big drawback once it does not allow you to post or edit content on your iPad or iPhone. However the platform is constantly evolving, and with the announced demise of flash, I am sure IOS friendly platform will be soon available. I might be wrong, but from what I can gather from my experience with web 2.0, that is the way these things go.
 Wikis are organized in folders if you want to create a page for every student. This makes visibility an issue. To view individual pages, you should first click on the folder and only then  you will see a link to each individual page. I have solved this problem in one of my wikis by placing links to pages on the main page. However, this only works when you have just a few pages. In case you have too many pages, folders are the only solution. In this case, name folders appropriately is extremely helpful.
I guess I would better stop here with the downs of wikis. I really do not want to discourage fellow educators from using them. On a last note, if you want to give wikis a try, pay a visit to my wiki  where you will find an introduction to wikis and plenty of tutorials on how to post and create content. 

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