Scholarly Article on Using Wikis to Teach Collaborative Writing

Review of:

“Authoring Wikis: Rethinking Authorship through Digital Collaboration”

By Karen Weingarten and Corey Frost

for Radical Teacher Spring 2011 Issue 90 pg 47-57

Link to Article

This article was written by two college educators who have experimented using wikis in their classrooms multiple times. The benefit that their experience and research has found in using wikis is that most students can begin to see the possibilities of collaborative writing as well as the “shift in focus from authorship to the actual work of writing.”

The main focus of this article was the trained hyperfocus that most students have on the issue of authorship. Many students feel an overwhelming pressure to create something completely original in their writing. I think that the authors made a good point on how this focus can lead to plagiarism more often than the desire to steal someone’s work. The idea of using wikis as a space to teach the writing process as well as teach collaboration (which seems to be a field that students MUST be successful in for the future) is a great one. It gives teachers a chance to incorporate technology in a place that most would not expect to find it and it makes writing relevant by promoting collaboration and knowledge of online tools for doing so.

Although the article claimed to focus on the use of wikis first and foremost, I found that most of the article was dedicated to discussing the issue of authorship among students rather than giving practical instruction on how to effectively use wikis in the English class.

Some ideas that I might take into my classroom are:

The Grammar Wiki Project: Students would common writing errors made by students and write about the mistake, the rule, and the correction. By the end of the project, the students have created their own grammar handbook that they can refer to any time they need a quick grammar reference.

Examining Wikipedia : As a class, the students will examine a Wikipedia page; observing how the information is collected and organized, as well as the behind-the-scenes work on the discussion page that can be viewed from every Wikipedia entry. This will show students the work and collaboration that goes into creating and editing each Wikipedia article, while simultaneously allowing them to see how it might not make the most credible source for research.

Check out Common Craft’s Video on Wikis in Plain English:

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