Blogging has been creeping into the curriculum at many institutions. Now Wiki is proving to be a complementary learning technology as well. The Washington Post reports:"Students keep pushing for more interactivity, often in ways I hadn't thought of yet," said Mark L. Phillipson, assistant professor of English at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Phillipson's students can go to a wiki he designed and highlight a phrase in a poem such as John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale." From "tender is the night," for example, they could create links to their own essays, a scanned image of the ink-blotted original manuscript, artwork, something about the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel with that title -- anything.
Sometimes wikis don't click. But at their best, wikis are provocative, inspiring, funny and addictive. Some course sites read like journals, some like debates and some shimmy in and out of topics with music, photos and video pulling readers along. One of Phillipson's students drew a picture of a poem; another made a movie. Wikis can encourage creativity, remove the limits on class time, give professors a better sense of student understanding and interest and keep students writing, thinking and questioning.
Early e-mail lists, newsgroups and chat rooms were ephemeral, like a passing conversation, said Steve Jones, a communication professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Now computers and networks are fast enough that many people can share text, videos, sound and art and work on them together, he said, building a body of knowledge over time. Wikis, including interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia, have been around for several years but they're just on the cusp of becoming mainstream; as the technology improves, they're popping up in a few classrooms and offices, and people are finding all sorts of uses for them.
It's the plugged-in version of a long tradition in literature, said wiki user Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, an assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland. Hundreds of years ago people kept "commonplace books," in which they would write down poems, passages from books, and observations to share. Most people think of writing as solitary, he said -- "the lonely poet taking long walks in the woods, but there's another type of writing that's social and reactive."
(Via Smart Mobs)