Critique and Conclusion

Wikis and the Higher Education Classroom (Summary Part Three of Three)

Selections from the third and last section, Wikis and the Higher Education Classroom, explicitly looks at the effect of wikis in the college classroom. Coeditor Matt Barton furthers the notion of wiki spaces as a collaborative application in his chapter "Is There a Wiki in This Class Wikibooks and the Future of Higher Education." Barton suggests that the democratic nature of wikis—the ability for anyone to author or edit text—is a primary reason to incorporate wikis in the classroom. He goes on to detail how he had his students in an advanced English course (Computers and English) create a Rhetoric and Composition textbook via wikibooks. Though he admits that the student's interest "waxed and waned" throughout the semester (pp. 192), he overall found that "students felt an invigorated sense of comradeship" (pp. 191). Thomas Nelson ("Writing in the Wikishop: Constructing Knowledge in an Electronic Classroom") does not shy away from discussing problems incorporating wikis into the classroom; he ultimately argues that a writing course could be transformed into a "wikishop" that "uses writing to produce knowledge about a particular subject" (pp. 199). This, Nelson maintains, would "teach students how a body of knowledge is formed and holds together" (pp. 200).

Chapters such as such as Cathlena Martin and Lisa Dusenberry's "Wiki Lore and Politics in the Classroom” and Bob Whipple's "An (Old) First-Timer's Learning Curve: Curiosity, Trial, Resistance, and Accommodation" suggest that wikis can serve as a valuable and effective course management system (CMS). Whipple admits to using the wiki as a password-protected course forum, while Martin and Dusenberry conclude "to instructors, the wiki is a simple course management tool with complex pedagogical implications" (pp. 215). However, they are also keenly aware of the other possibilities wikis offer. Whipple suggests that by only using a wiki as a CMS, individuals are "not being true to the wiki" (pp. 232). He emphasizes, like the authors before him in this volume, that wikis are an ideal place for collaboration to take place.