Thinking more about wikis . . . After my post yesterday and in light of my recent meanderings about personal learning environments, I've been thinking a little differently about wikis than most people.
We tend to see wikis as social spaces, because they allow multiple people to work on a single document and because they can be great tools for a cumulative gathering of knowledge. But getting to large-scale adoption can be difficult--management resistance, fears about using new technologies, changing old habits. All challenges to the social use of wikis.
Personally, I've been facing my own difficulties in getting people to adopt a wiki as a social space. They love having one place to go on the web to access information on a particular project, but they don't necessarily want to add to what's there. I've also found that people have to feel that they're personally getting something out of the process of contributing to a wiki. Benefiting "the team" isn't always enough of an incentive.
I think that part of helping people develop the skills to participate in a "social" version of a wiki might lie in encouraging people to use them (where it makes sense) for their own personal productivity and learning.
Increasingly in my practice, a wiki has become a tool for me to use for non-social gathering and sharing of knowledge (if we define social gathering as more than one person adding to the wiki). My wiki has become a personal space that I share with others when it makes sense. So here are some personal ways I've been using wikis:
- As a personal brainstorming tool--as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have a "Michele's Ideas" wiki where I gather links, notes, etc. on various personal and professional ideas One section of the wiki has become something of an online journal for exploring my personal mission in life. I'm collecting videos, quotes, articles, etc. that feed my thinking about my purpose and where I want to be going in the next few years. I've also explored larger blogging topics by first outlining some of what I'm thinking in a wiki page and then using that as a place to gather links, videos, etc. In this capacity, a wiki is part of my PLE.
- As a personal project management tool--As an independent consultant, I manage a number of different projects that I have to coordinate with both clients and staff people from contractors with which I'm working. I've been using wikis to help keep both myself and other people involved in the project updated and on-track with what's been happening with each of my projects. This has saved me a lot of communication headaches, as well as keeping me more organized.
- As an eportfolio--Taking a page from Beth Kanter's book, I've been working on developing my eportfolio using a wiki. Right now it's something of an all-purpose portfolio but at some point I can see creating more focused portfolios with examples of the different kinds of work that I do.
- As follow-up to training sessions--In many of my training sessions I have staff work in teams to develop handouts and group notes based on what they're learning in the training. I create a wiki for these sessions where I can later upload what the teams produce, as well as provide staff with follow-up materials for further study.
While I agree that there are incredible social benefits to using wikis and I continue to encourage people to use them in that way, I also think that a strategy for getting people comfortable with the technology is to show them how they can use wikis to improve their own personal productivity and learning. At least that's what I'm attempting to do here.