The last few reading assignments helped me gain a better understanding of the difference between a wiki and a blog. Wikis are great platforms for exchanging information and collaboration. K-12 educators can use wikis to launch, monitor and scaffold projects.  Teachers and administrators can use a wiki to create a repository of their students. Currently, our school uses an Excel worksheet to describe our students. Going to the “u:” drive to fetch and record information on a student is cumbersome. I believe a wiki format would be easier to use and more inviting. Lastly, teachers collaborating around their experiences in the classroom can be facilitated with a wiki. They can exchange ideas around what worked and what did not work in the classroom. They can learn from each others experiences without having to talk over the phone or meet face to face.

Most of the wikis that I found for educational and classroom purposes were geared towards the humanities. The following wiki was great to view, it was nominated for a 2010 Edublog Award  Digital_Artstech_Academy.  This wiki, ScienceInquirefreestuff, although geared for science, is full of resources. I learned about the Website, FREE-Federal Resources For Educational Excellence, as a result of reading the wiki ScienceInquirefreestuff.  The following two wikis were created by mathematic teachers MathsYear7 and Math 12 Outcomes Portfolio: the latter wiki was nominated for a 2007 Edublog award.  The wiki Maths_VEL_Model introduced me to the VELS domain of Personal Learning.

Collaboration_ChallengesThe wikis I found most interesting were used as platforms to display personal learning. The wikis served as portfolios of student work. Both the Digital_Artstech_Academy and the Math 12 Outcomes Portfolio are made up students’ work. They were not a waste of time to look at and they were more than a compilation of links. These two wikis went so much further than being a location to access course information and homework assignments. They contained students’ portfolios and problem solving strategies. I like the online portfolio that wikis can be used to create. The students can respond to prompts and questions presented by their peers and teachers. They can proceed to share how they arrived at their outcomes pertaining to the same topic. Just as students can benefit from collaborative work, so can teachers.

As a teacher, I see, at least, two benefits working with wikis; 1) the development of group skills, 2) my subject matter knowledge will grow.  I believe working with wikis in the classroom requires team work and trust. The students must learn to trust each other and learn how to learn from each other. As a teacher, my ability to implement group work and project based learning would improve as a result of using wikis in the classroom. Secondly, reading wikis that are directly related to my subject area will grow my knowledge base on the subject. Also, my expertise as a teacher will grow as a result of seeing new ways to present topics and differentiate instruction using technology. I was very impressed with the embedded flash based math lessons I viewed on the wiki MyMathResourcePage. Learning how to create software based lessons is a third another benefit of viewing wikis on a regular basis.

All levels of the school building can gain from using wikis. However, a mind shift must take place because most people are not used to sharing their ideas. Educators must also become comfortable with writing for the purpose of collaboration using Web 2.0 tools and not just socializing. I now have a better understanding of the difference between a blog and a wiki. Both are great tools for collaboration and I foresee more widespread use of each.