Skip to content


Unless you are the anomaly, writing is often a tedious and exhaustively lonely process.  As graduate students, we have by this time developed coping mechanisms to deal with the writing process, like:  writing an outline first, writing your introduction last, taking long breaks, forming writing groups or taking an incomplete!  Usually, our previous experiences with writing forces us to eventually embrace the attitude of just getting it done for the sake of peace!  According to Meijas, the use of wikis in the classroom alleviates many of the anxieties inveterate to writing.  The use of wikis invokes a collaborative process that potentially engenders a sense of community among learners; this leads to actual learning. So, why do schools continue to isolate individuals and make them hate learning?  The effective use of wiki may be the unknown desideratum education.

The author describes ha two-fold wiki assignment meant to engage students with historically complex texts.  First, students are asked to strictly summarize the main ideas of the text.  He provides a rough skeleton of major themes and headings that students complete.  Students are then required to use the “Comments” function of the Wiki to post their individual comments about the text: any reactions they might have, or questions they might want to discuss in class, and so on.  Participants are forced to limit their evaluation of the text by first collectively summarizing its main ideas.  This is sound pedagogical practice because it generates understanding before critique.

I really found this article to be very insightful and transformative in terms of my own teaching practice.  I’ve always encouraged teachers to use google sites and blogs as a platform for student engagement.  I however believe that the use of these technological tools doesn’t necessarily always help students with the daunting task of comprehending opaque texts.  As educators, we always have to model our process of writing and thinking for students to emulate.  For me, I became a better writing when one professor spent ample time with me to elucidate her process of writing and thinking.

Furthermore, the authors in this week’s readings endorse the use of these tools in their technology classes.  How can student engagement become the measure of success when these students are already motivated to learn the content?  Many of us have the luck of teaching mandated courses that are filled with students who aren’t remotely interested in what we have to say despite how enthusiastically we say it!  There are of course general understandings that help us to conceptualize student engagement, but it actualizes itself differently within each class.  What then are the indicators of student engagement?  As our conceptions of schooling change, so should our assessments.

Posted in Uncategorized.

3 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Amy says

    Tope, I really like the points you made. Quick comment…I wonder too, what assessments of teacher engagement might look like, if we have to shift how we assess student engagement.

  2. ria banerjee says

    I like the ideas that Mejias discusses and that Amy (below) and Tope here discuss for us. To me, his idea sounds like a slightly more complicated version of what we’ve become so used to doing for this class: posting summaries/provocations based on the learning. I really like this idea of collaboratively creating summaries of opaque readings within a closed (i.e., safer) online space. I wonder though, what was behind his specific intention of starting a wiki instead of a blog like the one we have? As in, I understand the value of collaborative learning completely, and also feel that especially students like ours labour in a vacuum in a way that can be/is dispiriting. But what is the specific value in encouraging students to dismantle and play with each others’ writing? Does this create any more of a sense of community than simply assigning online writing/commentating does? Does it empower any more or less?

  3. Kiran says

    Earlier this week i was randomly interviewing some of the undergraduate students working in and around my lab, on what they felt could improve their learning experience in their classes, with the pitch of using technology in the classroom. I initially had the idea of “if you build it, they will come” and they’ll use it.. But that isn’t always so.

    Most of the students i talked to relished the idea of having a means of discussing and working in groups of other students in a manner that didn’t impede their progress, since this was their general complaint about meatspace study groups. The laziest students slow the group progress. As i read this post, especially the ending questions on engagement, I began to think about my informal interviews. If students aren’t engaged, they will not learn. Can we engage them in different ways by using technology? Can we undo disengagement? Is all engagement constructive to learning? If you provide a means for student engagement, will it foster growth autonomously or can we force it as instructors and still make it constructive of and conducive to learning?

    Hmm, more questions than answers..

Skip to toolbar