Wiki as Whiteboard

One of the shortcomings of using a whiteboard (or blackboard) in the classroom, especially for open-ended activities like brainstorming, is that there is no record of what was written down. Because of that, in recent years I’ve taken to opening a Word document, projecting the results onto the screen, and using that in lieu of the board.

Last week, I used our wiki for that purpose and it worked very well. I chose the wiki for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to reinforce to the students that the wiki is the tool we use in our course. Second, unlike a word document, I didn’t have to process the document further, either putting it on the web or emailing it to students. It was automatically part of our course (wiki) transparently.

What we did was flesh out some ideas about the driving forces behind globalization. Each student had started to read from the list of references we developed last week. I asked each of them to write a brief essay describing what they thought were the major forces behind globalization. I read their essays prior to class and then during class we worked through the idea in a round about way so each student got to participate. I told them we would take communal notes and one person literally leapt at the prospect of typing the notes as we went along. Then I asked each student for one idea they had come up with. By the end of discussion we had a more complete and more deeply thought out view of the forces behind globalization than any single student (or I) had started with. (There’s another wiki list application for you.)

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One Response to Wiki as Whiteboard

  1. S. Lister says:

    I love the ideas you are putting forth here. It’s great to follow your adventures of using Wiki’s in the classroom. I think I will use your collaborative note-taking idea on my next workshop – to capture some of the great questions that come forward and answers/suggestions offered.

    Lately, I’ve been pondering the ‘downside’ of whiteboards/blackboards as well – they are great for brainstorming or doing group “concept/idea webs” but I’ve always found it sad to erase the ideas presented. Your suggestion of wiki-fying the blackboard scribblings is a good one – but it’s harder to capture more graphic representations – One solution I’ve started is to take pictures of the white board work and then provide the pic as part of future hand-outs (sorry not totally electronic yet! – but I will post some samples on flikr when I get a chance) – this has worked well for me in elementary grades where there are neither the typists, computer access or computers.

    Keep up the great work, sharing and blogging!

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