What’s an Educational Wiki?

Education wikis are used in both traditional and online classes from elementary school through graduate school and into the workplace. Wikis are used for group or collaborative authoring, building courseware, developing and documenting work on papers or research projects for peer review, tracking and streamlining group projects, reviewing classes and teachers, and building critical skills for similar application in the workplace (Robinson, M., 2006, p. 108; Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006).

The individual and collaborative work developed using Wikis is transforming how people learn in many ways. For example, wikis are contributing to the shift from instructor-centered teaching to student-centered learning (Bold, 2006, p. 12). In this way, the use of the technological platform is a reflection of the theories of Constructivism (knowledge is developed internally, by learners, as they encounter and solve real world problems) and Social Constructivism where collaboration is integral for the group construction of knowledge (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018, pp. 72-73). Brown explains “knowledge has two dimensions, the explicit and tacit. The explicit dimension deals with concepts…[whereas] tacit knowledge is best displayed in terms of performance and skills” (Brown, J. S., 2010, p. 15). Both explicit and tacit knowledge increase when learners collaborate in a constructivist “community of practice,” dealing with real problems. (Brown, J. S., 2010, p. 15). The real world applications serve to connect knowledge to situations where the purpose is clear—this is both Situated Cognition and Anchored Instruction (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018, p. 70).

Educational use of online sharing platforms is actually changing both learning and technology. In the past, technology was used to facilitate learning. Today, new technologies, like Wikis, continue to facilitate learning activities, but now the learning activities are also changing the face of technology (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018, p. 69). This dynamic relationship between technology and learning points to Pea’s concept of distributed knowledge. He explains that learners develop intelligence when “interacting with [cognitive tools] distributed across minds, persons, and the symbolic and physical environments, both natural and artificial” (1993, p. 47-48). Pea defines cognitive tools as any practice or medium (including the use of computer, online, and social technologies) “that helps transcend the limitations of the mind, such as memory, in activities of thinking, learning, and problem solving” (Gebre, E., Saroyan, A., & Bracewell, R., 2014, p. 9). Cognitive tools like wikis create the opportunity to transcend traditional educational limitations by “allowing learners to externalize their internal representations” and to participate in the construction of both technology and learning (Gebre, E., Saroyan, A., & Bracewell, R., 2014, p.10).

Classmates, have you realized you are participating in the growth and change of both knowledge and technology? I hadn’t really considered this until now. What do you think about the idea of distributed intelligence—that anything in your environment can be a cognitive tool to grow intelligence?



Bold, M. (2006) Use of Wikis in Graduate Course Work Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 17(1), 5-14. Retrieved from: https://www.learntechlib.org/d/6033/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Brown, J. S. (2010). Growing Up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn. [PDF file] Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20. Retrieved from: http://www.johnseelybrown.com/Growing_up_digital.pdf (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Duffy, P. & Bruns, A. (2006). The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. [PDF file] In Proceedings Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006 (pp. 31-38). Brisbane. Retrieved from: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/5398/1/5398.pdf (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Gebre, E., Saroyan, A., and Bracewell, R. (2014). Students’ engagement in technology rich classrooms and its relationship to professors’ conceptions of effective teaching. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45, 83–96. doi:10.1111/bjet.12001 Retrieved from: http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile117094.pdf (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Pea, R. D. (1993). Practices of distributed intelligence and designs for education. [PDF file] In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations (pp. 47–87). New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from: https://telearn.archives-ouvertes.fr/file/index/docid/190571/filename/A67_Pea_93_DI_CUP.pdf (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. V. (2018). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Boston: Pearson Education.

Robinson, M. (2006) Wikis in Education: Social Construction as Learning. Community College Enterprise, 12(2), 107-109. Retrieved from: https://www.questia.com/read/1P3-1167542181/wikis-in-education-social-construction-as-learning (Links to an external site.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *