ELATEwiki: Evolving an E-Learning Faculty Wiki

ELATEwiki: Evolving an E-Learning Faculty Wiki

Roger W. McHaney (Kansas State University, USA) and Shalin Hai-Jew (Kansas State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-869-2.ch001
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A small team at Kansas State University worked to plan, create and launch an e-learning wiki to support faculty in their work. The advantages of the wiki technology—with its technological affordances of wide access and dissemination, digital content archival, multimedia expressiveness, remote collaboration, subscribability, and the reversibility of postings –appealed to this team. Even initially, there seemed to be opportunities for building novice and professional capacities in e-learning through the co-creation and sharing of information, problem-solving, and virtual community building. This chapter describes the research literature and pedagogical theories on wikis. It addresses the team’s efforts in exploring and then building the wiki site. Additionally, this explains the team’s rationales in terms of the intellectual property policies, the work to create accessibility, the wiki’s fortuitous naming, the seeding of the wiki with contents, its low-key branding strategy, and the publicity plan for a “hard launch” of the ELATEwiki to the Wikisphere. This also describes the datamining techniques used to track use of the site and how those affect the site’s continuing evolution. Finally, this chapter will provide perspectives on the work of a wiki-master in a peer-to-peer, collaborative, and open wiki.
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Elate: Evolving An E-Learning Faculty Wiki

A wiki used to develop particular subject matter works as a socio-technical space. The open hypertext affordances of wiki technologies enhance intercommunications and collaborative editing, but to succeed, the participants must bring their good will and expertise; the people are the ones who create and maintain the community. The users sustain wikis with continuous addition and refinement of digital information and contents. This case study discusses the creation and deployment of wiki technology in higher education to support e-learning faculty, administrators, staff, and learners. The name of ELATEwiki stands for “E-Learning and Teaching Exchange”.

Figure 1:

A Screenshot of the ELATEwiki


An Environmental Scan

Initially, the team conducted an environmental scan to see if there was an existing wiki that would fulfill the needs at the campus. They found some that dealt with e-learning technologies; they explored others that were designed for particular universities, subject areas, and courses. They found some that dealt with education in general but not any that dealt with the breadth of issues in e-learning. They also probed some electronic publications and blogs. If such a shared space existed stably in the Wikisphere, the Web 2.0 approach would be to join up and participate—to the benefit of all, through democratized knowledge access and sharing.

Next, the team reviewed the research literature to find out the latest word on wiki uses in teaching and learning. By the time of ELATEwiki’s launch, wikis had long become part of an “emerging trend” of use for knowledge management and sharing. Since W. Cunningham’s creation of the first wiki in 1994, wikis have sparked various innovations in the intervening 15 years; this technology has diffused widely with uses in both password-protected spaces as well as semi-public and wholly public spaces.

The reading that occurs on a wiki has been described as a “hypertextual” and non-linear sort of reading and connecting to a variety of contents through unpredictable paths:

The biggest advantage, and probably also the biggest disadvantage, of traditional reading is that the reader feels he cannot lose his orientation. On the other hand, a reader of hypertext tends to find himself astray in randomness and flexibility. When the reader cruises through a hypertext, his decision on which link to follow next is mostly decided by the stimulation provided by the Web page rather than a pre-set reading plan; in this sense, he loses his orientation as soon as the reading starts (Zhang, Aug. 2006, p. 25).

Researchers observe: “Wiki technology utilization is growing at a dramatic rate. Empirical evidence indicates this technology is sustainable” (Majchrzak, et al. 2006, as cited in Hester & Scott, 2008, pg. 6).

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