Wiki as Social Media

This week in ETEC 565 our class did an activity where we were to collaborate on a wiki entry.  The topic was geared in using social media for learning and collaborating, with an eye towards identifying key challenges and strategies when dealing with social media.

This was the first time that I have ever participated in using a Wiki, so the whole setting and editing environment was a bit strange.  Furthermore, it became clear that the unwritten rules of how a person navigates and collaborates within a Wiki were also very foreign to me.  I hadn’t anticipated this at all, it was a bit of a shock.  My experience with the wiki showed me that there is no one in charge of a Wiki, or there to tell others what to do.  I think this is keeping with the general spirit of Wikis, although I’m not sure.

The dialogue in the Wiki was very different from a discussion forum.  Whereas in a forum I feel that I am speaking/writing to a person, in the Wiki I felt that I was speaking to the subject.  This is an incredibly huge difference.  I have no doubts that content created using a Wiki compared to content created by using a discussion forum would be significantly different depending on which type of media is used.  Of course this is not new: it is simply a new manifestation of Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message.”

Looking ahead at what we will be covering in the next few units in ETEC 565, I wonder if we’ll investigate how these different technologies can be expected to produce different types of results.  I think many people have already thought about how different learners will be better or worse at using different mediums (akin to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences), but perhaps we haven’t yet given much thought to how the medium will effect the nature of the output.