A few minutes ago I was reading an email containing my daily Diigo update and a bookmark from my Project Based Learning Group that submitted the blog site, “Wikis for Everyone“. The post, “A Classroom Wiki Webquest“, caught my attention featuring a teacher conducting a wiki webquest with her students about rock and roll musicians.
“For their first project, they created a Webquest about the 1980’s rock and roll scene. “Students were required to research about music in the 1980s and design a rock exhibit for a rock and roll museum. Students worked in groups to create various products – feature articles, press releases, teaching and student guides, and museum calendars – explaining the exhibit highlights.”
This project led to a project on the 50 greatest rockers resulting in the creation of a project wiki. The “RockWriteListen” wiki is laid out well with an introduction to the project, a webquest and student products. This was so awesome to see the extent and detailed length the wiki was utlized to facilitate this project. Initially, instruction on how to use the wiki and communicate expectations to the students took place.
“There had to be an entire mini-lesson on what was an appropriate response in the discussion section. The experience was useful. Looking though the discussions you will find that a lot of the students had great insights to add. And this insight went beyond `great page, cool graphics.”
Laying the foundation with clear expectations communicated is essential to the success of any project and as elaborate as this project became it was a necessary component that had to be woven into the instruction of the content as well. The teacher featured commented how the students had to work together to complete the components of the webquest project. Eventually, the teacher structured the 50 greatest rockers project so that each student was responsible for editing his/her own page.
Using wikis to their fullest potential is like venturing into new territory. You blaze a trail and learn from trial and error of ways to better facilitate and structure group projects such as those mentioned in the post. The teacher commented that using the wiki really expanded the learning opportunities and she also participated in the learning process.
“As for photobuckets and other widgets, the students really showed me how to do that. Once one student started it, I asked how to do it, then taught other students. We were learning from each other – myself included.”
That comment really struck with me. Students look to us to know all of the answers to their every question. Many teachers feel insecure about saying that they don’t know the answer but this is real world learning. This teacher took a risk, her students took risks and an outstanding project resulted that focused on content but provide so many rich, real learning experiences that is greatly needed for the 21st century flattened world.