things you should know about…
Sarah and her team have been working on their termproject since the second week o class. To make thingsgo more smoothly, Sarah introduced her teammates tothe concept o a wiki.
She used a wiki last semesterand appreciated the way you can share and collaborateon documents without special sotware or training. Shealso liked the act that the wikis are Web pages, makinglinks to reerences very handy. The team members have done most o their work usinga wiki and conerence calls. They really like the act thatanyone on the team can browse and modiy the wikiwith nothing more specialized than a Web browser. Forconerence calls, one person posts a rough documentor an agenda online; the others correct and contributeto it in real time.Sarah and her team are impressed with how easy it isto add, modiy, or delete material rom the wiki. Thereis no HTML to learn or any programming interace tomaster. You simply click on the wiki page’s “Edit” buttonto begin to change the page’s content. A click o the“Save” button posts the changes back to the Web siteand updates the wiki, making the assembly o contentor the wiki easy and straightorward—everyone on theteam can read (and react to) inormation being gener-ated and add their modications or corrections. And,since their wiki lives on the Web, the team can work onthe assignment at any time, rom any location oeringan Internet connection. Sarah did caution her team tobe mindul o deleting inormation rom the wiki; she hadonce inadvertently wiped out someone else’s contribu-tion without realizing what had happened.Out o curiosity (and to get more reaction to their proj-ect), Sarah solicited input on her team’s work by pub-lishing the URL or the team’s wiki. In essence, she puttheir work-in-progress up or scrutiny by experts in theeld. The eedback has been positive so ar, with someconstructive suggestions about rewording and newcontent to consider. As a result, she is now sure theyhave completed a thorough investigation and eels thatthe team may have something to contribute to the eldbeyond just a class project.
What is it?
A wiki is a Web page that can be viewed and modied by any-body with a Web browser and access to the Internet. This meansthat any visitor to the wiki can change its content i they desire.While the potential or mischie exists, wikis can be surprisinglyrobust, open-ended, collaborative group sites.Wikis permit asynchronous communication and group collabo-ration across the Internet. Variously described as a compositionsystem, a discussion medium, a repository, a mail system, anda tool or collaboration, wikis provide users with both author andeditor privileges; the overall organization o contributions can beedited as well as the content itsel. Wikis are able to incorporatesounds, movies, and pictures; they may prove to be a simple toolto create multimedia presentations and simple digital stories. According to
The Wiki Way,
“‘[O]pen editing’ has some prooundand subtle eects on the wiki’s usage. Allowing everyday users tocreate and edit any page in a Web site...encourages democraticuse o the Web and promotes content composition by nontechni-cal users.”
Because the user interace is amiliar—a Web pageon a personal computer—barriers to modiying wiki pages areminimal. Plus, the results o the users’ actions on the content o the site are instantly visible to other users.
Who’s doing it?
The rst wikis appeared in the mid-1990s. Scientists and engi-neers used them to create dynamic knowledge bases. Wikicontent—contributed “on the fy” by subject-matter specialists—could be immediately (and widely) viewed and commented on. Adapted as an instructional technology in the past ew years,wikis are being used or a wide variety o collaborative activities.In addition to compiling inormation, aculty and sta in highereducation use wikis as repositories or meeting notes. Agendaitems are contributed prior to a meeting; notes added during themeeting are saved in a public archive. The ability to export notesto Microsot Word makes reporting easy and adds versatility tothe meeting wiki. Some institutions are experimenting with wikisas e-portolios. Artiacts within a wiki-olio are easily shared whenthe wiki is used as a presentation tool.
B. Leu and W. Cunningham,
The Wiki Way: Quick Collaboration onthe Web,
Addison-Wesley: Boston, 2001, p. 15.
The word “wiki” is not an acronym but rather (accordingto Ward Cunningham, currently at Microsot Corporation,who coined the term) “a [Hawaiian word] used as analliterative substitute or quick, to avoid naming this[sotware] quick-Web.” The name has now entered theInternet lexicon, along with other Web-based terms suchas blogs and podcasts.