Thursday, January 04, 2007


What in the world is a Wiki?

This does sound a little strange, doesn't it? For an indepth description of Wikis, see the Wiki entry in Wikipedia (

The Wikipedia entry is a little verbose, however, so I'll give you the simple explanation here. A Wiki is basically a Web page (or site of connected pages) that anyone (or at least permitted users) can directly edit. Most are set up pretty much the same. There are a number of "tabs" on the page, one of which says "Edit". Clicking on this tab will open a text editor. This editor is pre-loaded with the text that currently exists on the page. You can edit this text and add more of your own. Then you click "Save" and the page then displays the entry with your changes.

I find that collaborating in this manner enables uses to create a page that represents consensus of the users. Adding, editing, and even deleting other users' works is difficult at first, but once you are used to and understand the process it is very effective. The finished product (not that it's really ever finished) is usually a piece that reflects not only the groups' understanding of a concept, but also can reflect the process that the group went through to get there (most Wikis also have a "history" tab that tracks all changes).

You will notice that I use
Wikipedia quite a bit. While there is a great deal of debate as to the benefits and drawbacks of using this resource for research purposes, there it no better provider of information on current technologies and trends that Wikipedia. I often use Wikipedia and Google as jumping off points for any information gathering that I do.

How will we use Wikis in this course?

We will using two separate Wikis in this course: Moodle and

Moodle has a build in Wiki that we will use for numerous purposes. I will use it to post course requirements and descriptions. You will notice that the assignment descriptions are in a Wiki. These can only be edited by the instructor, so it is probably not the best use of a Wiki, but it is an easy way to post and edit a Web page. The second use of Wikis in Moodle are ones that you will be editing. I keep these in Moodle because they contain personal information such as contact information, links to your student blogs (see the blog entry below), your MS Messenger account information, chat meeting times, group assignments, and so forth.

We will use Wikispaces (
CALL Class Wiki) for more public works. This includes an assessment activity late in the semester as well as a list of CALL resources that we will keep as a class (an extension of the Website/Software Evaluation assignments). These assignments will give you the opportunity to work with and collaborate using a Wiki.

I chose to include an external Wiki (in addition to Moodle) because I wanted you to have experience using a Wiki service that you can use with your own classes.
Wikispaces is a free service that can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection. The same is not true of Moodle. Similarly to the student blogs that you will keep, this makes your work public. Publishing your work in this manner makes you an active participant in the field, which will hopefully ease your transition into the CALL community. In addition to all of this, the CALL Class Wiki is a running record of CALL class activities. Not just for this semester, but for all semesters. It just so happens that this is the 2nd semester participating. Congratulations :)

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