Coleman's expressions

Friday, February 24, 2006

Wiki applications

Intrigued by the potential of this Internet-oriented tool, I’ve gone exploring…I settled on wiki textbooks as an emphasis for the purpose of this rumination.

Thinking back to the introduction of online newspapers, I remember my negative reactions to the prediction they would take-off in readership.  No way would I give up my daily morning dose of turning newsprint to discover the world’s current events!  Well, life played out differently for me – though I still hold on to my Sunday newspaper, I let my fingers navigate through the online version of the local paper (and oftentimes, the Miami Herald and the New York Times – which I would not be buying in print!) the remaining six days of the week.

So can wikitextbooks be a viable alternative to the current paper textbooks adopted and used in our schools today?  Can we morph from a linear resource to a hyper-text collaboration?  As linked in our class presentation, there are some in existence (and presumably in use) already – as exemplified by the South African curriculum (physics – media wiki).  

In the U.S., there is an emerging venture to use wikis for online textbooks in educational institutions. Education Bridges’ Wikitextbook Project is in the early stages of promoting wikitextbooks as online, free, accessible content which also involves the social construction of knowledge with students as active producers of knowledge (not passive recipients).  In addition to “expert” links, there would be current information that would be fluid and collaborative.  The obvious hurdles include:  maintaining “authoritative” stance and preventing bad information; issues of social disparity and access; acceptance by teachers, parents, and School Boards.

There are a couple of very interesting podcasts that explore this initiative and there is also one scheduled for Wednesday, March 1st when they are planning a live wiki-building episode – join them at 8pm EST (Education Bridges)!

Though not a textbook, I’m impressed with Shelly’s vision for wiki application:  wikibulletinboard!


  • Marie, you have shared some very informative sites to review before our work next week with wikis. You are correct in that you never know what will come to pass in our technology-driven world. As educators, we are so used to having textbooks to use in class, but they can sometimes become obsolete very quickly. They also have become extremely heavy and they are so expensive!

    You never know what we will be using in our classrooms in the coming years. We might look back on these questions in a couple of years and think we weren't very forward thinking.

    Thanks for a very informative post.
    :-) Ruth

    By Blogger Ruth Paine, at 2/26/2006 10:16 AM  

  • Hi Mary,

    I just wanted to comment on the last comment you left me. Yes, I was very persistent and determined to figure out my webpage. Guess what??? I finally figured it out. Not only did I figure it out, but I changed the webpage entirely around with a whole new URL. Yes, I know it's insane, but I wanted things to be right. Check it out on the EME4505 website. Oh yeah, I agree with you on Wikis...what will they think of next.


    By Blogger Melissa Monaghan, at 3/04/2006 7:55 PM  

  • I'm sorry Marie... I don't know why I typed Mary. Maybe that's my clue to get off the computer.


    By Blogger Melissa Monaghan, at 3/04/2006 7:56 PM  

  • I have to say I think wiki textbooks are a brilliant idea, as long as you have a limited authorship that is regulated to subject experts. One of my biggest issues with text books as a student was that they are always out of date. With a wiki they can be instantly updated to reflect the latest discoveries and world events. The other great thing about this is portability. Students on vacation no longer have to rely on hauling around copious amounts of heavy books as long as they have Internet access. Also the problem of forgetting a text book at home or at school is no longer a problem.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3/06/2006 10:43 AM  

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