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Student blogging: Mejias’ Wikis

Mejias’ article on “How I Used Wikis to Get My Students to Do Their Readings,” was a good read, particularly in light of our recent Wiki experiences. To briefly summarize, Mejias describes his use of Wikis to more actively engage all students (in this case, undergrads) in reading and learning, as part of a blended learning environment, and to shift the traditional roles of instructor and learners. Through collaborative writing (ie, summarizing and commenting of readings + peer review and editing), Mejias moves his students away from “reading in isolation,” to a collective, participatory process of learning and engaging with the readings. A few benefits/themes that Mejias brings up:

  • Skills – students learn writing, reading, editing, collaborating, and Wiki-related skills
  • Material for classroom conversation is generated through student comments, so the instructor can facilitate a conversation — rather than do the more traditional style of lecture and be asked questions by “model” students.
  • Shift towards process-based/experiential learning. For example, becoming comfortable with the Wiki process; learning to be active and “critical practitioners” vs. passive consumers and as such, producing knowledge through social and interactive processes, as Dewey describes.
  • Asynchronous learning and “time on task” – learning continues outside of the classroom, and this process, while more time consuming, “forces them to engage with the readings in a way they would otherwise not do.”

A few questions came to mind for me. I definitely am excited by the benefits of using Wikis in the classroom (and like the use of this more “internal” Wiki – but maybe I’m just still sensitive to our RHaworth experience), and it’s great to compare this to the use of blogs, but I would like to know more about the process, and what makes a process more successful than others. That is, what are the techniques or strategies for actually getting all students to actively participate and collaborate? The platform alone certainly fosters a level of participation, but what strategies do teachers need in order to implement such learning tools effectively? And are there still differences between participation between what he calls “model students” and “students” and what does that look like? Perhaps some of this relates to our conversations about using tactics like guilt, or fear of bad grades … and striking this balance of old and new technologies.

Posted in Motivations.

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2 Responses

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  1. Kiran says

    Let’s see.. in a way i could see blogging giving a voice to every student beyond those who have the confidence to speak up in class.. I think about this every time i grade quizzes and i see that the most vociferous and enthusiastic students are not the best performers.

    I do like that question “Does a wiki perhaps reinforce the sorts of inter-group dynamics that are present in the classroom, which, ostensibly online communication would seem capable of eschewing…?” In a way it does and it can be useful where you want the class or student groups to work collectively as opposed to the typical (at least for the pre-med dominated intro-science classes) competitive ( this is ME, MY work, and MINE alone) egocentric student production paradigm, which (i think), blogging may actually reinforce..

  2. Jacob Lederman says

    Another question this raises — which I think you sort of get at implicitly– Amy, is whether blogging vs. wikis encourages or subverts certain power dynamics and/or forms of privilege in and outside of the classroom… Does a wiki perhaps reinforce the sorts of inter-group dynamics that are present in the classroom, which, ostensibly online communication would seem capable of eschewing…? Is that process somehow different with regard to blogging?

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