Wednesday, November 14, 2007

GAETC Review: Tony Brewer - Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting: Tools of the 21st Century Classroom

I found that Tony Brewer was either pretty misinformed or ignorant of the ways wikis can work. He was fairly insistent that wikis could not be moderated nor the publishing of wikis controlled, which is entirely wrong. Some wikis require that the username and password be shared among users to post, some are created for open posting only, but there are others where the wiki can be established so only those who are members may publish and edit. I can't help but be disturbed by this misinformation given that he has built his career on presentations such as these. Blogs are so much more prevalent than wikis and even though the room wasn't packed, he managed to misinform everyone there and leave them with the impression that wikis aren't such a great tool.

Going on, he suggested the use of blogs could allow for multiple collaborators. How? Give the username and password to everyone who will be contributing. Isn't that a wiki? (Correction: Since my original post, I have discovered that you can have a multi-authored blog.) Why do so in a blog format when you could collaborate on a wiki? Each person can have their own login to use, and changes and additions can be tracked by the user.

He poses many questions about the validity of the information on the site and how you can't guarantee that it is free of bias. With an educationally focused wiki, this is not an issue. His allegiance appeared to be more aligned with Wikipedia than providing any other kinds of examples. He even showed Wikipedia and used it as an example.

Then he asked, based on the information he had given, which we would prefer. I was the only one who chose a wiki. Then he made some comment like, "How do you like being the only one?" Okay, I had to comment on that. I gave a short explanation of how I use wikis and that Wikispaces was a perfect medium to use with students and point-by-point contradicted his negative remarks about wikis. I was shocked to find that he had never even HEARD of Wikispaces. Then he said he would be careful because it ends in ".com". My hand went up again to relay that they have teacher pages which are free and add free to boot. Thankfully, another member of the audience brought up another suggestion of using WetPaint.

What really threw me was that when an audience member asked what you could use a wiki for other than having students create an encyclopedia. He was blank!! He solicited examples so my hand went up for the third time to relate the book study a group of 8th grade gifted students are doing with some of the faculty members in that school. I'd link to it, but it's private to protect the students, but I am very excited about what they are doing.

So, in short (too late right?), I guess he was rather ignorant about the use of wikis. But isn't it his job to completely inform himself before coming to a state conference and presenting on subjects such as this? Additionally, one of his links to educational wiki examples was a page produced on, drum roll please....Wikispaces!!

As David Warlick would say, just my 2 cents worth. So, in short if you are reading this and want to know more about wikis, you can go to my Diigo list of wiki examples.


Anonymous said...

By any chance is this tony brewers blog? ?


Caroline OBannon said...

Looking at the information about the guy who is writing that blog, I would say no. I tried to Google him, but didn't have much luck except for links to his past presentations at conferences. Here is one where I found a picture of him if you're interested.