In their simplest form, Wikis are Web pages that allow people to collaboratively create and edit documents online. Key principles of simplicity, robustness, and accessibility underlie the wiki publication system. It is the open and free spirit of Wikis fundamental to open source software (OSS) that offers new contexts for learning and knowledge creation with technology. This chapter will briefly consider the role of technology in learning before discussing Wikis and their development. The emerging literature on the application of Wikis to education will be reviewed and discussed. It will be argued that Wikis embody an exemplary model of open source learning that has the potential to transform the use of information communication technologies in education.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Hypercard™: A hypermedia program developed by Apple Computer in the 1980s.
Constructivist: An approach based on the work of Lev Vygotsky, who contended that learners neither receive knowledge nor simply discover it. They learn in social contexts in interaction with both humans and tools.
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS): A term first described by Richard Stallman referring to a software development process in which the software source code is made freely available for subsequent modification and development.
Wikipedia: A free-content encyclopedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ ).
Wiki: A form of read/write technology that allows groups of users, many of whom are anonymous, to create, view, and edit Web pages.
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): The difference between what learners can do by themselves and with the assistance of more capable adults or peers.
Web2.0: A term coined by Tim O’Reilly ( http://tim.oreilly.com/ ) referring to a range of second-generation Web publishing and social networking technologies.
Open Source Learning: A model of learning inspired by the key principles or freedoms embodied in the FOSS movement.
Wikia: A project to provide communities with Wiki-type Web sites (see http://www.wikia.com ).
Wikimedia Foundation: An international nonprofit organization run by Jim Wales, using wiki technology to promote free and open large-scale collaborative content creation projects (http://wikimediafoundation.org).