Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blogs and wikis

Blogs and wikis are changing how students learn, and eventually will change how we teach. Blogs and wikis are examples of tools or “social writing platforms” (Alexander, 2006, p. 36) to promote writing, reading, critical reflective thinking, and the potential for collaboration. Blogs are a more structured format. By structure, the blogs are a journal of sorts, with postings and comments arranged in a reverse date format. According to Alexander, “blogs are about posts, not pages” (Alexander, 2006, p. 33). Wikis, on the other hand, have the possibility of having great structure or almost no structure visible. The wiki is an example of a brainstorming or concept mapping application (Lamb, 2004) where the structure is not as critical as the communication of ideas and thoughts. Wikis, in Alexander’s view “are streams of conversation, revision, amendment, and truncation” (Alexander, 2006, p. 33).

Blogs could easily be adapted for uses in courses or opportunities to demonstrate reflection, and process (Downes, 2004). Blogs provide instructors the means to communicate with students in an almost conversational tone by their postings, and comments. Improving the opportunities for interaction with the instructor and other students (Moore, 1989), blogging can effectively reduce the potential isolation for the distant student.

Wikis would be appropriate for developmental writing or collaborative writing (Lamb, 2004). A shared space, like a wiki, becomes the virtual coffee house, where ideas can be freely exchanged, conversational threads can be developed, explored and altered as the conversation or dialogue matures.

Both provide opportunities for developing and honing composition skills, focusing on written communication, editing, and revision (Alexander, 2006).

Alexander, B. (2006). “Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?” Educause Review 41(2), 32-44. Retrieved September 26, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0621.pdf.

Downes, S. (2004). “Educational blogging.” Educause Review 39(5), 14-26. Retrieved September 26, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0450.pdf.

Lamb, B. (2004). “Wide open spaces: Wikis, ready or not.” Educause Review 39(5), 36-48. Retrieved September 26, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0452.pdf.

Moore. M. (1989). "Editorial: Three types of interaction." The American Journal of Distance Education 3(2), 1-6.

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