Several years ago, a colleague showed me how he uses a Wiki in his class. I remember being impressed with the collaboration between the teacher and the students, as well as the interactions between the students themselves. It was technology at its best. Being used to enhance the learning. The students gained and the teacher gained. It appeared to be a powerful, well thought out use of technology. I even set one up, but never ended up using it live.
If you’ve read my blogs, you know that I am taking an educational technology course. Each week we’ve been working on a different Web 2.0 tool and learning how to use them in an organized manner. This week we revisited Wikis. I started to think of the Wikis that I use regularly. There is Wikipedia. Then there are … um… I think I bought a Bluetooth once and the help page was on a Wiki. So I started to look online for popular Wikis. There are definitely some that do pop up on a Google search. But many of them are old and out of date. I saw Wikis that were not updated in since 2010!! I googled “Best Educational Wikis of 2012 and the list was surprisingly sparse. Of course there were some. When I browsed through them I found that although many were well done, they often reflected the work of an individual rather then celebrating the collaborative nature of a Wiki. A sort of personal website.
The truth is that many of the reasons to create a wiki are outdated. Wikis were touted because of their collaborative nature, their ease of use, and change tracking. There are newer, more effective ways to do that. Google Docs comes immediately to mind. I can create a document that people can edit and add to and track changes through my Google account. What am I gaining by creating a Wiki? The ease of use of a Google Doc is at least as easy, if not easier than the editing tools available on a Wiki. Plus, I can embed my Doc into any website for public viewing. If it is collaboration through discussion that I am hoping to get, there is Facebook and Twitter. I can get instant feedback to whatever I want to know. If my goal is just to get my point out, then a blog or website is the way to go. In class, I would much rather used a closed social network such as Edmodo than to assign them a page in a Wiki. I am hard pressed to come up with a specific situation where I would want to use a Wiki at all.
I am sure you are wondering how I am going to answer Wikipedia and similar sites. I would claim that those were created when Wikis were the best tool. They achieved global recognition and are now firmly planted there as a sort of status quo. I would be surprised if a new wiki popped up and gained popularity to the levels of a Wikipedia.
Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think. Am I missing the boat on this one? Is there still a place for wikis or is it going the way of the dodo? Are there other popular tools that will not be around much longer? I would love to hear what you think.