Wiki's are great at providing a structured location for threaded discussions. They are also very good for providing a place for students to showcase work, such as a research topic, a video, or an image.
You can see what some of the teachers at my school are doing with Wikis here
I agree with you. They are not my personal favorite either.
I have been working with and teaching technology skills with students for 15+ years. Once the Internet became the "in thing", I immediately noticed that the students perceived that the information they found on the Internet was the "gospel". That is why I have a major concern about Wiki's. You, me, and any "Joe Shmoe" can create and/or write a wiki and declare that the information that they are presenting is the truth. In fact, when I have my high school students do research, they are not allowed to use a wiki as a resource.
So it is an informational webpage about your class, that they students can post information on and use it as a reference when needing an answer to a question, In a sense. Like a class syllabus and replacing email with the wiki for communitcation. I think i am most uneasy that people can upload pretty much anything on to the wiki. I would feel that I need to check it every 5 seconds to filter what is coming into the wiki to make sure it is not false information. Does that happen?
I have fallen into using wikispaces extensively in my work. I use one wikispace, established three or four years ago as a class conduit to the web. I have gradually incorporated curriculum links and activity links to the pages. I embed applications into them all the time. I just embedded Ustream so my students can view broadcasts and chat about the. In the past few years I have had my students create their own wiki pages and use them to organize their learning in collaborative teams. This fall I began digital portfolios with my class to facilitate their student led conferencing.
On sources like wikipedia; I do not share the common concern with the reliability of information found there. I am actually blown away by the quality and quantity of information compiled. What a democratic endeavor. We all know better than to trust one source for information and we are responsible for passing that healthy skepticism on to our students. I am more concerned about the reliability of my twenty-year-old curriculum approved textbooks and atlases or the six-year-old set of World Book encyclopedias in our school library (let alone the aging reference books on the shelves). I still use an atlas that does not show the boundary division between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. If that is not in the atlas, what should I think about the population, industrial and climate data the students are supposed to use?
Speaking of Wiki's, is anyone who knows how to use them, or just a tech savvy teacher, interested in presenting or attending our upcoming Ohio Free-Tech 2010 Conference? I extend this opportunity to you, your colleagues, and graduate students to share research findings regarding technologies in the classroom, 21st century pedagogical approaches, 24/7 learning environments and communication skills that effectively engage digital natives.
Following the conference(s), SmartEd Services will be happy to make your research available via www.teachsmart.org and other social media networks.
Though we are a technology reseller, our mission is to create understanding, not simply to sell “stuff.” This conference offers teachers and administrators the opportunity to come together and explore these integrated technologies and methodologies.
Recognizing the fiscal constraints facing Ohio’s schools, and with the knowledge that training budgets have been cut, we have taken it upon ourselves to bring professional development to these educators. Conferences will be held in January and February at locations in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. They are offered at no charge to the attendees. Also, please know that we will not use this as a platform for sales.
Our goal is for attendees to walk away with a better understanding of their students’ needs and how proper technology integration addresses those needs through a range of disciplines and learning styles.