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Educational Blogs and Wikis – From Educause

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Educational Blogging by Stephen Downes
Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not by Brian Lamb From Educause Review

This last group of students, eight or so at a time, fire up their browsers and log into their cyberportfolios, a publication space that Principal Mario Asselin calls a “virtual extension of the classroom.”1 This virtual space is composed of three sets of weblogs, or blogs: a classroom Web space, where announcements are displayed and work of common interested is posted; a public, personal communication zone, where students post the results of their work or reflection; and a private personal space, reserved for students’ thoughts and teacher guidance.

What makes blogs so attractive, in both the educational community and the Internet at large, is their ease of use. A blog owner can edit or update a new entry without worrying about page formats or HTML syntax. Sebastian Fiedler, a media pedagogy specialist at the University of Augsburg in Germany, has been monitoring the rise of blogs for a number of years. “Many lightweight, cost-efficient systems and tools have emerged in the personal Webpublishing realm,” he writes. “These tools offer a new and powerful toolkit for the support of collaborative and individual learning that adheres to the patterns of contemporary information-intensive work and learning outside of formal educational settings.”

There’s a very common reaction that newcomers express when first introduced to wikis: “That looks promising, but it can’t work for me.” Their objection to wikis is nearly universal: “If anybody can edit my text, then anybody can ruin my text.” Human nature being what it is, to allow free access to hard-earned content is to indulge open-source utopianism beyond reason.

This concern is largely misplaced. Think of an open wiki space as a home that leaves its front door unlocked but doesn’t get robbed because the neighbors are all out on their front steps gossiping, keeping a friendly eye on the street, and never missing a thing. This ethic is at the heart of “SoftSecurity,” which relies on the community, rather than technology, to enforce order.

Written by anol

August 30th, 2004 at 11:49 pm

Posted in Social Media

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