[Technology 1236] Re: Professional Development Design&Developmentfor the 21st Century

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Bakin, Barry barry.bakin at lausd.net
Mon Aug 27 15:55:29 EDT 2007

There are really two issues here: wikis you control and wikis you don't. I don't know how long ago you experimented and perhaps things were different in the early days of wikis, but wikis today (I use peanut butter wiki http://pbwiki.com/) give you control over who can change them by giving you a password. Only people who know the password (such as students in your class) can change the wiki. Additionally, if one of your students does introduce something inappropropriate, the wiki has easy-to-use tools to revert the page to any prior version. Pbwiki also gives you the opportunity to make the entire wiki private so only those with the password can view it. The second issue is wikis other people make. Indeed, information can be false, but worse than that, it can be manipulated for various reasons. Marian Thacher of OTAN blogged recently about Wiki Scanner, a new website which identifies changes in wiki information and who made the changes. Not surprisingly, you find a lot of corporations and politicians changing entries to put themselves in a more favorable light. What then happens, hopefully, is careful readers change the adulterated information back to the original, but of course, this might not happen right away or it might not happen at all. The question than becomes, yes, it is a flawed information source, but as educators do we teach students how to evaluate and use the information appropriately or do we avoid it all together? Part of being literate is being able to evaluate the information that one is exposed to isn't it? Would you tell students never to read the newspaper or watch TV news or do you assume they have no bias and no errors? Marian's blog is at http://marianthacher.blogspot.com/ and Wiki Scanner is at http://wikiscanner.virgil.gr/

As for teachers asking students to do things that are not correct, surely you've found errors in textbooks, materials you've created yourself, and in the ways many aspects of language are explained and practiced! We ask our students to do things that are "not correct" constantly and we keep doing it even though research might suggest that there is no value to the activity for language learning anyway? Having students read out loud in class, memorize lists of vocabulary words, and having students orally recite verb conjugations are all teaching techniques that come to mind that might fall into this category.

Barry Bakin
Pacoima Skills Center
Division of Adult and Career Education, Los Angeles Unified School District

I tried to use Wikis, but I found the information can be false and it is
difficult for students to understand that something the teacher is asking
them to do is not correct. This is especially true with ESOL learners.
Also, the Wiki I set up was found by some one who put pornographic materials
on it. I deleted the page and the information and stopped using it.

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