The name wiki seems to have not taken hold although the use has.

A new wiki service in Seattle which boasts that it is the easiest of all wikis started this month. The new service entitled Wet paint has been used on the xbox to create cheat codes and other collaborative works. (Notice how the name wiki is left out of the company name.) Most people just knew they collaborated but didn't know the term wiki.

I was most interested in the article posted by the MIT Technology Review which stated:

“Surveys conducted by the Harris polling organization for Wetpaint show that only 5 percent of adults who go online can define the word “wiki,” according to Elowitz. And it's not clear that Wetpaint or any other wiki-focused company has made the technology simple — or useful — enough to attract large numbers of users.”

This article also claims that although many people read Wikipedia,

“only about 500 users are responsible for editing it.”

(I've edited, have you?)

A wiki that isn't called a wiki used in college

I had an interesting conversation with my cousin who is in college when I asked her if she's used wikis. She stated that she had never heard of them, but when I described them, she has in fact collaboratively edited documents. The college is using them extensively but not calling them wikis.

Confusing wikis with wicca

My biggest obstacle to the introduction of wikis is that each time I introduce or speak of it, the newcomer to the term thinks I am referring to something that has to do with wicca, a witchcraft organization. I now immediately state the definition of a wiki and explicitly point out there is no relation to wicca and I am fine. It seems to be the question that everyone is afraid to ask, although it is just a semantic misconception.

Wikis remain my best classroom tool

I see so much misunderstanding of how to teach corrrectly with wikis. They are the best classroom tool that I use! I am excited because GAETC has asked that I teach a workshop covering how to teach using wikis at their conference this November. I look forward to sharing the best practices I've learned and how to set up a basic wiki. I plan on using a class wiki to teach the class so the students will see me model the behavior I am teaching.

Whether it is called a wiki or some other name, it is still a very useful technology and one that is vastly undestimated in my opinion.

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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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Cheryl Oakes June 29, 2006 - 11:18 am

Great article. I have used wikis since January, but they have not grabbed me like other web 2.1 tools. So I guess I am that huge percentage of adults surveyed. I am going to keep trying! Cheryl, thanks for the push.

Karyn Romeis June 29, 2006 - 9:19 am

Sometimes people can be scared off by names, associations or classifications. I once heard of a classical music teacher around the turn of last century who encountered resistance to classical music at a school in a poor area. The children (and their parents) felt that such music was only suitable for posh folk. He renamed the tunes with more contemporary titles and wrote words to some of them. Within weeks, he was tickled to hear a tough kid on his way home from school, whistling a Bach fugue. For all I know, it may be an urban legend, but it makes its point.

I have noticed that sometimes, if a person thnks a thing will be complicated, it is, but if they have no preconceptions, they are able to embrace it more fully.

And, yes – I have also edited wikipedia.

Andy Carvin June 29, 2006 - 3:49 pm

I’m not surprised; other surveys have also shown that people don’t always know terms like blog and podcast, but they use them anyway.

Meanwhile, I think it’s a bit inaccurate to say “only about 500 users are responsible for editing it.” It’s been edited by hundreds of thousands of people, with tens of thousands contributing regularly. There may be a core group that contribute more content than anyone else, but they’re definitely not the only ones. (Though I’m sure they’ll make up the bulk of the people going to Wikimania here in Boston this August – should be a lot of fun.)

Last but not least, I’m probably going to do a session about wikipedia at GAETC. Still working out the details on my sessions.

Vicki A. Davis June 29, 2006 - 7:55 pm

Andy, Thank you for your post. I too was shocked by the 500 users editing Wikipedia and the article did not state its source of information. They are probably looking at major edits,however I’m sure the minor edits of many of us do add up.

I rewrote the article to more accurately show that the 500 users editing Wikipedia information came from the MIT article. Thank you for the post.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere