Collaborative Project: MediaWiki
17 July 2011
The MediaWiki Experience
These are my insights from using MediaWiki for the collaborative class activity:
- MediaWiki can be incorporated into a LMS and by doing so, becomes a gated and protected learning space.
- MediaWiki permits participants to create pages and to create and edit content within those pages. It is a collaborative work space where each participant manages their level of contribution.
- Interestingly, once a message is posted to a wiki page, it becomes the content that every other user sees and works with. Earlier versions are not easily accessed, and so an entire document can be shaped into a format or structure that is one author’s preferred expression, rather than the desired expression of everyone in the group. I noticed that in our group exercise, someone created a page structure with contents, headings, etc. It made it easier to “fill in the gaps” and move forward on the project to achieve the task once that structure was there, but at the same time, a structure that was not mine seemed “odd”, and I didn’t feel right to alter it.
- MediaWiki contrasts with WebCT Vista’s threaded discussion forum where each author’s content remains separate and where each author retains some ownership and control over both their ideas and the expression/presentation of those ideas. A forum also enables people to see at a glance a “hot issue”.
- The key difference in Wikis and Discussion Forums as social learning tools is that Wikis enable groups of learners to collaboratively shape a perspective on an issue or topic, whereas Forums enable groups of learners to discuss to varying lengths and depths their individual views on an issue and to moderate their views after feedback and reflection.
- The participant of a Wiki sees what is published (the “latest” content is the content), whereas the participant of a Discussion Forum chooses threads (self-selects content) to view and respond to. A participant of a Wiki project may or may not know how an argument was formed (they may not have seen every iteration of the content), whereas the participant of a Discussion Forum will have the option of seeing all perspectives on an issue.
- I believe that Forums are very powerful aids for reflection and social learning. Wikis appear to offer an online work space rather than an online discussion space.
Features of MediaWiki
I am not sure I have fully understood the features of MediaWiki. It appears that the ‘talk’ feature is really just a term that equates to posting content. It isn’t discussion. Hence, I am unclear about the difference between ‘talk’ and ‘contribution’ as used by MediaWiki (they seem to be the same thing).
The history feature is useful for teachers for the reason of being able to monitor which learners have contributed to the collaborative space.
As with all new technology introduced to a learner group, there can be differences in how learners intuitively use the technology in the absence of specific instructions about features and functions. I have read of MET students working on various different pages in MediaWiki but I only ever participated on the Discussion Page. I’m not sure whether this was appropriate or not !