The Management and Creation of Knowledge: Do Wikis Help?

The Management and Creation of Knowledge: Do Wikis Help?

C. Bruen (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland), N. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland), P. Gormley (National University of Ireland at Galway, Ireland), J. Harvey (Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland) and C. McAvinia (National University of Ireland at Maynooth, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch104

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This chapter focuses on how wikis might influence the creation and management of knowledge in HE. A wiki is defined as ‘a freely expandable collection of interlinked web pages, a hypertext system for storing and modifying information–a database where each page is easily editable by any user with a forms-capable Web Browser client’ (Leuf & Cunningham, 2001). Wikis’ flexibility, adaptability and potential for increased functionality via Web 2.0 plug-and-play features, has led to their adoption across a wide range of social, educational and business contexts. Wikis are easy to create, use and deploy. Wiki support and functionality is available for mainstream virtual learning environments (VLEs) such as Blackboard, WebCT and Moodle, either integrated within the VLE or provided via third-party plug-ins. Many free providers, for example PBWorks (http://www.pbworks.com), offer free wikis with excellent usability and functionality, including content management functionality and storage space.

This chapter will present and describe selected case studies illustrating the use of wikis to support online community based tasks, project processes, collaborative materials development, and various student and peer supported activities. The intention within each of the case studies was to use a wiki to support the collaborative creation of new knowledge as an ongoing process. Structured and unstructured online activities were combined with face-to-face meetings. The level of experience of using Web 2.0 technologies varied: some of the wiki designers had limited or no experience of using wikis to support community development, but all had extensive experience of supporting online community development. Many of the users had never worked online as part of a group. A key question for the authors was to evaluate the effectiveness (or otherwise) of wikis to create online communities to support knowledge management (development, retention and transfer).

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