I like to use wikis for much of the work that I do. I think that they allow me a great deal of freedom to be creative in their construction without being overwhelming, give me just enough gadgets and plug-ins to keep me busy and suit my purpose when it comes to organization and access. Right now I use one for my planning, another I used with my class last year to gather information about Medieval Europe, a third we use as a staff to organize information and I have others that I started for a book club (which didn’t go too well but I think I’ll give it another shot), another for my admin group to organize ideas about supervision and yet another for a group dealing with web2.0 tools from the summer.
Now, because I use a wiki quite a lot, I think they are one of the best things to show someone who is doing work online. There’s no pressure to post and you can make them private, which is what I have done with my planning wiki plus some others. You can upload information that is accessible from anywhere, collaborate as a group, keep track of what is going on and so much more.
My reason for discussing this is because Clay Burell has been organizing an inservice day, using a wiki to put together the different components that he thinks are essential for a teacher in today’s world. I haven’t looked at the wiki yet but I know that I will when I get some time. The great thing is that I can link from the staff wiki to Clay’s and they will then have all that information at their disposal which is an awesome thing. I now that the Horizon Project was using a wiki to organize their work and share discussions and I think it was a great tool for doing that cross-continent collaborative work.
So, as I thought about this, I wondered who was checking in on ourstaff wiki, which has a link on Clay’s blog. Well, guess what? We’ve had visitors from California, Glasgow City, West Lothian and Lombardia as well as Saskatchewan. I’ve been blogging for about 8 months and our wiki gets more hits from different locations than this blog! Pretty amazing that people from all over the world are looking at how our staff uses this tool to stay in touch, learn together and be organized. My hope is, that as we become more comfortable and grow in our familiarity with technology, we will be able to share more information such as what we are doing in our Professional Learning Teams and our School Community Council. Because of it’s ease of use, people can use it with minimal pd time and, with the save each version feature, if you mess up, you just go to the version before and start over.
Clay had a post that asked what web2.o tool people would suggest for a pd day such as he was designing. My suggestion was something like iGoogle, Pageflakes or Netvibe – a homepage type arrangement where you can add pages and widgets to keep you organized, get news, keep up with the sports or whatever you want. However, the more I thought about it, the more I suggest the use of the wiki. It gives you a chance to be putting things together, in private as I mentioned, and then to branch out. It might even be somewhere you begin to express your ideas before you go to the blog. Now, I really do suggest using a homepage aggregator to assist with organizing all the different tools that one might have online. I also suggest something like Claimid where you can gather links together so you have one stop to get a page. I’ve made it my homepage so I just click and go. Of course, one needs a RSS aggregator to keep track of all the interesting blogs out there. As I think of it, you could use a wiki page to do some of this but it wouldn’t have all the bells and whistles.
I’m not going to suggest any one wiki provider although, after visiting my wikis you’ll know which one I prefer. I suggest you try out a few and go with the one that suits you the best. Whatever you do, get wikiing!