This is the fifth installment in a series [1 2 3 4] based on my recent conversation with Vicki Davis (blog), the visionary teacher behind the Westwood Schools Wikispace. Today, Vicki tells us about students’ attitudes toward the wiki. Vicki, thanks again!
- How have students reacted to using it?
I’d like to go back to one of my early posts on December 9th that represents how my students felt about the wikis after first introduction:But my amazement came afterwards as I walked through the halls. Two girls attracted my attention with their squealing — I asked what was up with them — They were squealing about the English material going on the wikipage! It was going to help them on their project! They were so excited. They practically drove me crazy the rest of the day getting passes to come in and update the information for their exams and projects. Other teachers started coming to me and asking what was going on. They couldn’t believe the amount of material synthesized and summarized in one class period!
My last period class heard from the others about the “do it yourself” project and then came the most astounding idea of all — the 10th grade study hall! They created a place to post projects and assignments and invited each other to their wikispace. Then, they created links to the websites that their fellow students had created to help them study/ review/ complete the project. They are used to copying notes for one another — but now they can collaborate on notes! The results are astonishing!
This is what is most amazing — the buzz in the hall with students talking excitedly about King Lear, the Scarlett Letter, the poetry project, the History project, and what other information they need to post to help!
Like anything, some students “moan and groan” about wikis. They are also the same ones who moan about anything requiring effort. What I have seen, however, is that grades on tests have improved, participation in class discussion has improved, and knowledge of the subjects have improved. With wikis at the core of my classroom, it has become our “hub of knowledge transference” as students share and collaborate. I have been more than pleased.
As a recent blog “question of the week”, I had my students compare and contrast wikis and blogs. Here are a few excerpts about what they think:
- “Wikis are I think a lot more efficient than blogs.” 9th grader
- “There is not a large difference between blogs and wikis. Blogs are more like an online journal and wikis are more for the classroom. Although wikis are more for the classroom we use both wikis and blogs a lot.” 9th grader
- “Blogs are more opinionated than wikis, because wikis are a collaboration of facts by every individual student….Blogging is more popular and more people are aware of it. Wikispaces are a fairly new concept which leads to not many people knowing about them. A wikispace is more of a discussion than blogging, because blogging is one person’s opinion with other’s comments on it. Wikispaces are also aimed more toward the “classroom” setting rather than personal home setting.” 9th grader
I also recorded our classroom discussion held on 1/18/06 about what students think of wikis. They are pretty honest.