Student created wikis changing college final exams.

Wikis used to study for finals at University of California

There is a fascinating article on Wikis (4/3/06) in the University of California student newspaper. Students in a class created a study wiki for a professor's final without his knowing it…they did it on Wikipedia.

As they began studying, some classmates received a mysterious e-mail directing them to a Web site on Wikipedia, the well-known user-edited online encyclopedia.

“Let[’]s compile our answers,” the site began. “The ultimate goal is to add to each other[’s] answers — cram with as much detail as possible.”

Wisely, the professor didn't fight it. He says:

“There’s no secret knowledge in my class, and anything that puts more information out there for students is a good thing,” said Kousser, who was not aware of the site his students created until an interview with the Guardian last week. Students in other classes also reported using similar wiki study guides.

Wikis aid in doctoral thesis writing

There are several other ways that Wikis are being used at the U of Cal. Doctoral students are using wikis to “split up their research and then collaborate on the final product.” This is because of the ease of using wikis without knowing HTML.

Few Ethical Problems Experienced

Although many people have been cautious about wikis, the professors here report having few ethic problems.

“We have not had any incidences of malicious or adversarial competition,” he (Bossewitch) said. “Quite the opposite: People are producing much better work, in light of the fact that other people are going to be looking at it.”

Bottom Feeders are the Demotivation

The drawbacks that seem to make some students hesitant is when they give more to the wiki than they perceive that they are getting as well as the occurence of “bottomfeeders” who leech and contribute nothing but glean information.

Aren't they always? Like the people who snag whole paragraphs out of a blog and don't see fit to even acknowledge their source.

But Wiki's weren't the Holy Grail of Finals

The wiki didn't solely help a person ace the exam because the professor said that someone who studied the wiki would only have 66% of the questions for his test. (Wonder why he knew the percentage?)

I wonder if he went the the wiki and did that on purpose when he made out the test — perused the wiki to make sure he had some other information. This would weed out the students who didn't study or read on their own. Like I said, smart guy!

Thailand educators want to use a wiki to circumvent their Ministry of Education

Another interesting article I came across was educator's efforts in Thailand (4/10/06) to circumvent their ministry of education's resistance to the translating of their textbooks. Here is their solution at Thailand's first EduBlog Con:

“I have a problem with teaching US geography and Tudor kings to Thai children in international schools,” she said and noted that in light of the Ministry of Education's unwillingness to allow Thai textbooks to be translated, she said a decentralised Wiki, free from the control of the MoE, to let these children learn about what it is to be Thai will be the best way to preserve Thai culture among the next generation.

Podcasts to Deliver Education to Impoverished Countries?

Finally, a podcast I'm listening too now is Tom Rafferty's Podleaders interview with Ken Carroll of ChinesePod and his interest in using podcasting to deliver high quality education to impoverished countries via podcast. (I think vodcast would apply there.)

Good teachers will become “hot commodities!”
I always heard of a day when the best teachers would be seen around the world. Hone your skills, people, the time is approaching rapidly.

Of course as I always say, nothing replaces the face, voice, and body language of a good teacher. I also have to wonder about the whole censorship thing!

In Conclusion

Wikis will change the world. If educators don't use them, students will. If educators will wake up, they will find that the wiki is an especially useful tool in a computerized world where everyone isn't quite yet comfortable with computers.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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