Parallel Play or Collaboration--Leveraging the Wiki Platform for High Quality Work
Is your wiki one where learners do parallel play?
Is it simply a glorified drop box?
Is it one where learners truly collaborate?

All of these can engage students. All of these can involve students in meaningful learning. Engage in some "Wikithink" and explore different kinds of wikis. Let's think together about wiki projects that truly involve students in authentic work which is purposeful, personally meaningful and engaging and that meets a need in the world today.

Questions we'll consider and explore:

  • What is the purpose of using wikis?
  • What makes a "good" wiki?
  • What do I think about when I am designing a wiki?
  • What characteristics do I look for when I consider using a wiki with my kids or for myself?
  • When students use wikis, are they directing their learning or following teacher guidelines?
  • Are they working alone or with others? Is one preferable over the other?
  • Are students creating or regurgitating?
  • To what extent am I using the power of the wiki platform to increase engagement with the content and blur the line between consumers and producers?
  • What is collaboration? How do teachers set it up in the classroom?
  • How do we distinguish between collaboration and cooperation, or parallel play?
  • What is engagement? How do we combine teaching frameworks such as Bloom's taxonomy, Marzano's high yield strategies and Phil Schlechty's levels of engagement to assure high levels of engagement AND deep, meaningful, authentic learning?
  • How do students become truly engaged and what do wikis have to do with it?
  • How do we assure that the quality of the task and level of interdependence to complete it meets the purpose we set forth?
  • Is it okay if the task is just a traditional task we ask students to put online?
  • What kinds of projects are truly purposeful, personally meaningful and engaging? What does a project look like that "meets a need in the world today?"
  • If we're trying to help our students envision life in a technology rich, incredibly connected, globally conscious world, what kinds of experiences should we be providing for them?
  • How do teachers collaborate to make sense of web tools pedagogically and technically?

Paula White
@paulawhite Twitter
Albemarle County Schools, VA USA