Monday, November 27, 2006

e-tivity 7

The genre of wikis

Now that we’ve analyzed blogs and websites, we’re going to take a look at another new online phenomenon: wiki. A wiki is basically a virtual space (website) for collaborative writing, i.e. a place where we can “build” texts together. One of us makes an entry in the wiki, then the next person comes along and adds to, removes or in any other way edits what the first person has written, and so on. Our aim is going to be to start developing a wiki on genres and social softwares for language learning. Students from both Blogging English courses will be contributing to the wiki as will your colleagues in the next semester, the one after that, etc. A wiki is a never-ending project! But before we start “wiki-ing”, we need to understand what a wiki is and consider what characterizes it as a genre.

Purpose: To start exploring the world of wikis, understand what they are, how they work and what characterizes them as a genre.


1 – Do some background reading. Go to the most famous wiki, wikipedia, and read what it has to say about wikis. Click here. Then read their page on wikiquette. Editing someone else’s work can be a very productive exercise in collaboration and building knowledge, but it can also be a delicate procedure. The word “wikiquette” comes from wiki + the English word “etiquette”, i.e. how to behave appropriately. Click here.

2 – Listen to an online video course entitled “Why wiki” presented by the University of Wisconsin. Click here.

3 – Explore wikipedia, and any other wiki you may find on the Net (by now your search skills should be pretty good!) and take notes on purpose, audience, language, characteristics, etc. just as you have done for blogs and websites.

4 - Write a few paragraphs in which you discuss the genre of wikis based on your analysis. N.B. Please pay close attention to the organization of the information in your post. Clearly divide the information into separate paragraphs, each with a clear topic sentence that is subsequently developed within the paragraph. The beginning of the text should indicate the overall idea of the text and the end should offer some sort of conclusion. Be concise.

5 - Post your analysis to your personal blogs.

Respond: Go to your peers’ personal blogs (you can do this via the blogroll on our course blog or your bloglines if you’ve made a playlist) and read their analyses. Comment on their analyses where and when you have something to add or critique. Remember that you don’t only have to give positive feedback – constructive criticism is quite important as well!

Timeline: Friday, December 1 (task), Monday, December 4 (respond)

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