Wikis and Collaboration (more from my dissertation)

wiki 

The collaborative nature of Wikis is seen as an excellent way to bring information together. Recently, Wikis have been tapped for use in graduate programs as they provide students a vehicle for preparing for qualifying examinations. Recently, the University of Florida conducted a study concerning the use of Wikis to facilitate examination study. “The collaborative effort to collect, synthesize, and share key knowledge in the field of educational technology was a major component of the seminar. The group selected a wiki as the most effective and efficient tool to meet this objective” (DiPietro, Drexler, Kennedy, Buraphadeja, Liu, & Dawson, 2010, p. 25). The Wiki served as a working or “living” document for these students to use for the development of their understanding of the subject matter for their exams. Also, the students were able to organize the content more easily and logically which allowed for greater and more accurate information synthesis. Finally, the Wiki provided an open forum with no true leader. Since every member was on an equal footing and there was no presupposition of one person’s information or knowledge overruling another’s, information sharing was more robust. This increased sharing of information allows for more collaboration and knowledge building. The tactics used in this study have wide applicability to many disciplines, but are most pronounced in the field of IT for obvious reasons. With the constant flow of information and the open nature of the Wiki, knowledge useful for building procedures and policy for IT and IA are much more easily constructed. As stated by DiPietro, et al., Wikis “allow for transparent collaboration in an open environment which others could view and provide feedback” (2010, p. 28). This dynamic capacity has a distinct advantage over other online tools and resources in that it allows users direct, continuous, and unfettered access to an ever-growing body of knowledge. The Wiki is also useful for promoting a culture of sharing as it allows for many people to benefit from each other’s views, attitudes, and knowledge. This corporate knowledge synthesis leads to a firmer foundation based on sound research and experience. “Seven unique individuals were able to successfully collaborate on critical content for their respective qualifying examinations. Topics pertinent to educational technology included: Theories, Notable People, Concepts, Competencies, Associations, Journals, Literature on Qualifying Exams, Dissertations, and Job Search Information” (DiPietro, et al., 2010, p. 29). Examinations are just one area where Wikis can benefit many people at once. However, it is evident from this study Wikis have wide  applicability and can be used effectively in many professional arenas. This applies well to the issue of organizational efficiency also. “A wiki may serve as an effective medium for collaborative qualifying examination preparation given multiple participants with similar research backgrounds and the shared vision of successful program completion” (DiPietro, et al., 2010, p. 31-32). Through the shared experiences and learning of a group of people, information can readily and efficiently be formulated. This act of synthesis brings together data in ways that allow for increased efficiency across the organization, whether it be educational or technological.

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