Wikis in Higher Education

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WikisHigherEducation Session.jpg

Pete Forsyth briefly introduces Wikipedia Public Policy initiative.



Alain did work with 3rd to 6th graders with a classroom wiki, teaching them to tell stories. Was successful, especially with girls; but it worked only because he was in the classroom the whole time.

  • also translation students using Wikipedia. It was very difficult for them,

Pascal and Nelson worked as consultants for a school that used a site that uses wikis to facilitate distance learning.

in the last 4 years, people began to really use Wikipedia as an entry point to research. Confusion between wikis and Wikipedia. It can be difficult to introduce a professor to the idea of a private/more controlled wiki.

Windy is interested in moving from big wikis to local wikis where people have the chance to meet in person. This will help them explore the potential for a wiki.

Nelson has used wikis in unversity, he is pursuing a Masters in Technology Innovation Management. They have a moodle installed and use that, but he prefers wiki. The course involves a lot of presentations. All students are encouraged/required to comment on presentations afterward on the wiki.

Nancy: her company will be using teaching software

Ivana: supervisor at university is very interested in sustainability, open source technological innovation. He introduced her to Wikipedia, which was initially very strange to her. Uses Appropedia. It's empowering to see that you have contributed something lasting. Thesis is on broad collaboration online.

Nihiltres is a student; has not seen a strong connection yet with wikis and higher ed. Sees confusion between wikis and WP, and thinks professors don't see the full potential. Mentioned WP schools and universities project.

Kristian: birth of a new culture, it's important to reflect. Confusions of process and substance. "colonizing the mind." Wikis bring up a new way of thinking, establishes a collaborative atmosphere, but there is a learning curve. Has used moodle, does not find it very useful. More interested in how humans relate to the programs. More of an environmentalist than a computer nerd. Sees parallels in transition from closed/competitive model to something more open and inclusive; liberating force. Ivan Illich, De-schooling Society.


Jack: On WikiHow, colleges and high schools use it for courses. It's a mixed blessing, sometimes it fits and sometimes not. Interested in outcomes of Public Policy Initiative.

  • Also he views wikis as an educational experience for contributors; they are looking for ways to formalize informal education. Recently hired a writing coach.

Ben Kovitz: grad student at Indiana University. Can learn a lot from editing a wiki. When taking a course, he will usually editi Wikipedia pages about the subject. Computer science, cognitive science. "stupidity coming together to form intelligence." He sees that as what a wiki is. (Wisdom of Crowds: 4 conditions where collective intelligence goes UP with more participants:

  1. independent thinking
  2. easy way to aggregate
  3. diversity
  4.  ?

Classic example is counting a jelly bean jar: average is always the best answer. Also, sports betting.

Marc-Antoine: predictions market aggregates people's predictions about current events to seek answer. He is working (new) in education. Colleague Alexandre at Concordia (was here yesterday) uses technology. He keeps all lecture material off class time, and uses class time for discussions. Forces students to read. He has seen students required to use forums, but likes wikis because they steer toward convergence, rather than narrow focus/divergence.


What are professors' goals? What motivates them, and what kinds of obstacles would make it difficult for them to incorporate a new tool?

  • Ivana: Are high school students being taught in computer classes how to edit Wikipedia?
  • Marc-Antoine: Emerging trend in education: have students develop a portfolio that becomes their resume.
  • Pascal: concerns about cheating, plagiarism, overly extensive quoting of Wikipedia in papers. Schools/professors need to develop new policies for emerging issues.
  • Nancy: distinction between simply "collecting" vs. critical thinking
  • Ivana: Wikipedia is making it easier to take shortcuts. So many highly-specific Wikipedia articles.
  • Kristian: maybe the model of having students write papers is becoming outdated. Should students be assigned to create videos, etc.?
  • Pete describes Public Policy Initiative in more detail
    • Pascal: What about establishing a methodology course within a program, to separate out "how to edit Wikipedia" from the course's subject matter?
  • Alain: in the translation projct, a big focus /issue was getting students to come down off their pedestal, not attach so much emphasis to their expertise. It's a "do-ocracy."
  • Nancy: relinquishing control over your own text, and also learning to advocate and deliberate about changes.
  • alain: using blogs and comments to develop articles to submit later to peer reviewed journals

Further Reading

Recording of the notes of MarcAntoineParent


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