Monday, December 10, 2007

Week 7, Thing #16, Wikis

Ah, finally we get to wikis. Of course, I've had experience with kids using wikipedia--who hasn't?--but I have been looking forward to exploring the many different ways people use wikis in the school and library worlds.

It doesn't take long to start thinking of ways to use wikis. In the library, book reviews seem to be a common use. I can see y students wanting to do this to recommend the books they love. In the classroom, some teachers use it for group projects. They are a good tool to use to build a virtual community of people around any common interest. Some teachers seem use them as guides and resources for their students. In our school, teachers use their web pages for this. Is the advantage of using a wiki that students can interact with it? That didn't seem to be built into some of these pages.

I especially liked some of the other uses for wikis that I discovered. I had never thought of putting our procedures manual in a format like this. Yet, doing so would make it both accessible and easy to update. I loved the collection of library best practices. Just think--if you needed to guide a group through developing a selection process or a challenged book policy, here are excellent resources already gathered for you to use. The same thing applies with lesson plans. I know I usually have to search for ideas and lesson plans for teaching library skills and reading genres. There are a million lesson plan sites, but most of them have few or no resources for us. A wiki where we could look for and share ideas would be great! I can also see how doing a wiki for an event like the CSLA convention would be great. It goes beyond merely posting information on a website because you can use it to build an interactive community.

The one thing I didn't learn from this exploration is how to start my own wiki. What is the best software to use? How do you keep track of contributions and edit it? I know those features should be built in, but I'd like to see how it works. I know there are also issues with what the district filtering software will allow. I think it is worth pursuing the answers to these questions, though, because this format seems so useful in so many ways. I will be looking into just how to use it.

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