Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sticky wikis?

A quick thought about wikis and whether or not they're ever going to be successful in education in the same way that they are in the sense of Wikipedia.  I have a feeling that it's more about the drive to make content than the nature of the format.  In other words, wikis may be easy to use, easy to publish, easy to edit etc... but if there's no passion from the people making content then they'll remain as static as any other more traditional written exercise.  It strikes me that asking people to compile resources just because it's a useful thing to do in a readily collaborative environment is an idea which works on paper, but if you're asking people to eat into their limited free time to do so or asking them to keep on nibbling at an activity you've set up in order to make it dynamic... it's unlikely to happen if they really don't care that much about it.  In some ways, that doesn't make sense.  Why wouldn't a student be passionate about the subject they've chosen to study?  Well the reality is that there are lots and lots and lots of reasons!  Life intervenes.  It's a means to an end.  It's dull.  It's 'just' a course.  The list could go on and on.

I don't know what I'm really trying to say.  I suppose in focusing on the benefits of using technologies such as wikis, people are often taken aback that they don't seem to fly in the manner of the most successful implementations.  If web 2.0 technologies are about user generated content, then we need to understand what motivates, interests and enthuses learners.  Just because a technology can do something doesn't mean that learners will want to do it.  The killer app is ultimately people.


  1. Possibly. I think I agree with Rheingold that the next killer app is connectivity, it's social networking. That doesn't mean that wikis are the answer but I think they are a(nother) step that way. Perversely the most successful wiki stuff I've done was in a f2f setting! Go figure?

  2. I can see how a f2f wiki would work. There's a big barrier to break down in order for people to edit unknown others' work... if they have that physical contact, it goes some way to helping people over that first 'can't touch someone else's work' hurdle.

    There's a real power relationship in education that we kid ourselves doesn't exist when we talk about working 'with' learners etc. When it comes to a wiki, working solely online - try getting students to edit the tutor's work. MASSIVE barrier. People and relationships... can't escape from it


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