Dear Tom Part 5: Getting Started with Wikis This Week

Another conversation between Tom Harrison, from Delaware, and I as he embarks on using wikis in the classroom.  You can follow all of the “letters” in this conversation by going to the Tag for “Tom Harrison” on this blog.


Thanks again for the prompt and remarkedly thorough response to my questions.  Had I taken the time (or thought of it!) I could have looked into the “members” section under “Manage Space” and seen that I am set up as administrator and the rest of my students are just members.  One worry resolved.  I also found a Wikispace warranty (permission slip) somewhere on the web that I have modified and printed out.  Tough punishment for first offenders will send a message.

Hey, I'd love the link for the permission slip to share with others.  And yes, whether you can use  a wiki long term is determined on the FIRST day.  Mom always said, you can never be tougher than you are on the first day of class, and the same applies for wikis.

You really nailed me with the comment about me probably being a perfectionist.  I absolutely laughed out loud at that and I had to read it to my wife who also laughed out loud.  Guilty as charged!  I have been one virtually all of my life and I totally blame my parents!

Welcome to the perfectionists club!  I'm a card carrying member too.  I've had to learn that perfection with these online spaces exists in the imperfection and teachable moments that emerge in this online medium.  If everything was “perfect” it would be imperfect because the real world is not perfect.

I appreciate your suggestions about keeping the sites on the private/private subscription.  However, I really want them to publish for a wider audience and I already told parents at Open House that they would be able to view the work we were doing in class.  I want the students in other classes to critique the work of their teammates.  If this turns into a bad thing I can go to the private setting, but I think I want to just jump in and make it visible.  Right now all the class sites are set to public/private and I want to try it like that first.

Mine is public too and I'm happy with it.  As long as you subscribe via RSS in your reader and check it frequently (like hourly) the first week or so until things settle down.  I'm glad my parents didn't know about the wiki when we started.  Now, it doesn't matter, but initially my one or two bumps were handled quickly and privately.

I am introducing the site this week to my classes…and yes, I am going to go “all in” to start.  I am such a glutton for punishment!

Good luck, I look forward to seeing how it goes as do some eager readers!  I do hope you'll start blogging your experiences, although I guess letting me share these letters is the second best thing.

Take care, and thanks again for all your help!


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