I recently had several serious conversations with College Professors about the use of Wikis in the classroom. I was making the point that publishing is just WAY too slow and that students are not engaged when they read textbooks. I suggested that it might be interesting to have the students create a Wiki based on the topic of the class and add to it.
When we got over the laughter and they realized that I was serious the talk turned to the capability of students today. When I talk about the students creating a Wiki it assumes that students will be active learners who are interested in learning the topic. Pretty much all of the profs that I talked to felt that students today are not capable of taking on that sort of responsibility. They tend to do quick "google" papers and don't question what is found by a search. They can barely read and comprehend what they are asked to read. All in all, the people I talked to thought it would be a waste of time.
I am trying to reconcile that with what I am hearing from the Ed Tech people that I read and associate with. In the scenarios that they paint students want to learn and are full of questions. We just need to step back and let them learn. We need to provide rich resources and guidance, but the learning motivation comes from them.
Since I am not in the classroom at the moment I cannot give an adequate answer to the skepticism of most of my professor friends. Would students just be lazy and would the wiki be a waste of time and effort, or would a Wiki awaken a love for learning and create an ongoing and more accurate textbook than is possible with the old model of publishing.
Oh yeah, and some of the profs that I was talking to teach OLD subjects that don't change much and were chiding me for thinking that there was any problem with the system of textbook publishing....