This chapter is all about the pros and cons of using a wiki in a classroom. Group projects can be a rewarding experience or a complete nightmare, depending on the assignment and the participants in the group. A wiki only serves to highlight the rewards and downfalls of collaborative projects.
As the author points out, “A class wiki provides an ideal online interface with which to address the fissures and overlaps between creative, collaborative, and theoretical work, while also providing students a space they can access and edit.” (205) This is a great sentiment, as long as the class utilizes the wiki in the way that the wiki is intended to be used. In other words, a wiki is a great environment for equality of authorship and collaboration. It is not a good environment if concerns over ownership, plagiarism and editorial control exist.
Some of the benefits of wikis the author points out are the ability to use a wiki for quick and informal means of editing and collaborating content. In addition, a wiki creates equality of authorship and collaboration. The biggest question the author poses is “whether a wiki truly provides a common, collaborative space.” (206) In my experience in using a wiki in two classes, I have not seen a wiki used as a wiki is truly designed to be used. A wiki, in two semesters of experience, has been no more of a collaborative space than using Google Docs.
Of the downfalls the author identified in his class is the ability to publish misleading information, hurtful words or opinions. In addition, works that are published in a wiki are available for the whole world or community to see. Another concern is that someone can follow along and have the ability to wipe out another’s work. Students are taught from an early age to have ownership of their written material, so it is disconcerting to find out in a wiki no one’s thoughts and entries stay untouched by others. One of the biggest concerns expressed by a student was “if other people plagiarized or changed my content, I would be upset.” (213)