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Proposed improvements for Media Wiki

Wikimania 2007 Taipei :: a Globe in Accord

Contributions of the BOF: Why is Media Wiki not (yet) the ideal Wiki-engine for (formal) educational settings?

Possible discussion subjects:

Pedagogical thoughts about a tool to sustain knowledge construction

Needs for non-formal education

Needs for formal education

Technical features of a Wiki for enhancing learning

There was only one teacher among the participants in this group (Jackie), who uses wikis to teach computer science with his students in High School, but added the technical point of view of the other participants some very interesting questions arised...

  • The majority of Jackie's students have somehow the feeling of playing a game when modify titles, sentences and text pages, but they get bored or not motivated enough when it comes to more complicated editing actions because they have more problems with the interface. Maybe Wikis should be even easier to manipulate
  • Another participant explains how difficult he knows its for some Japanese students he knows, who won't have time to manage using a wiki because they have a lot of homework to do.
  • Jackie says he likes the wiki tool for some of his classes (where he gives only the title, and guide the students a little bit), but prefers Moodle when it comes to different e-learning necessities. Maybe some lessons from the Moodle tool could be learned in terms of interface.
  • There arises the idea/concept like the WikiBus tour, or explaining the wiki philosophy before touching the computer, or the 'wiki in plain English' video, that could lead to students focusing later on in the interface, resulting in a better way of learning how to learn with the tool. Another type of improvement should be about tutorials or HowTos?
  • Mark explains that when introducing union workers into the wiki nothing worked until they had their contracts into one.
  • There was a good comparison: at the beginning the wiki is like a little hill, it takes some effort to manage it, but the is flat. We worked on the metaphor a little bit more: it's not that flat once the basics are learned, there could be some more difficulties...
  • Currently there are three steep steps when learning using a wiki:
    • Learn the simple parts of the syntax (paragraphs, headings, lists) Advantage for learners: Differentiate between structure and markup. A bold text is not a heading.
    • Learn about the more difficult parts (images, tables), which are really hard to handle
    • Learn how to organize content
  • WYSIWYG would make the second step much easier

Needs of educators for using Wiki

Basically we discussed about concepts of 'teaching' in a constructive way and how to use a Wiki to enhance the learning process. The maim problem we were talking about was that learners are not used to publish their thoughts and do not see a personal interest in sharing their ideas. So we discussed ways, mechanisms and recipes to show the interest of sharing knowledge. Then we looked at some examples of such Wikis.

Wikis used on high school level: all in German

Media Wiki about Media pedagogy for Work with 160 students:

http://campus.phbern.ch/~is1medpaed/index.php?title=Spezial:Userlogin&returnto=Hauptseite login: Guest; pw: Willkommen

Needs of learners for using Wiki

  • Learning through mistakes
  • MediaWiki is a "strange language"
  • Educational use of a wiki needs to start with "how to use a wiki" - this can be a difficult process

Learning through fun

  • Scavenging hunt
  • Wiki (like Fantasia in "The Never-Ending story") is what you make of it
  • Learn to play the wiki game (idea for getting people accustomed to using wiki)
  • Learning through evaluating information - becoming critical (eg Wikipedia)
  • Information is not just mechanical (ie metadata) but also social (metadata is a social process)

Students' intellectual property - ethical questions

  • Solutions:
    • Use a teacher to upload students' material (preserving anonymity)
    • Use a closed wiki

Allow people to write about their experiences that doesn't require them to edit the wiki?

Which are the occurrences of a Wiki to be used by persons to keep the ‘technical cognitive load’ deep in order to permit a high level learning performance?

What is necessary to improve usability and to avoid oversimplification?