Collaborative writing and wikis

I’ve experimented with various kinds of wikis over the past few years. I’ve previously blogged about my thoughts on the process as I co-authored peer-reviewed proceedings on Writely (for e.g., and which eventually became Google Docs. I also played with other wikis like Peanut Butter Wiki, now called PB Works, and the TaTE wiki .

I disagree with some aspects with the theoretical frameworks being forwarded by researchers recently about how wikis support knowledge building (Cress & Kimmerle, 2008), but I’ll save that discussion for a future blog post.

Practically speaking, wikis are easy to use. The only real problem I have with them is, unless I am continually working on a wiki, I forget the minor technical details like my login and password (which email address did I use again?) or the markup conventions (even though they are easy). The help page is often not available to guide me, so I tend to revert to Word (which I am not fond of!) and email drafts back and forth with my co-authors. Even if I worked on a manuscript in a wiki, I tend to do that anyway at the end to put the document into APA format, like this paper that Clare and I submitted to a journal :


The screen cap above illustrates some of our page edits prior to moving our paper out of Jim’s TeamEdTech wiki and into Word. The page history is a bit deceptive, because we worked through at least six drafts of the manuscript before we even put it into the wiki and three drafts before we submitted it! This might have some implications for assessment of student work in a wiki, but I still need to understand what kind of assessment tools are available for work in wikis. I’ve read some articles around that, and have chatted with Laura and Chris about this as well. More on wikis later.

For now, I’m making progress on another manuscript drawing on my AERA 2007 paper. After that conference, I was asked to submit my paper to a couple of journals but put it off until my dissertation was completed. So now, I am excited to be able to move forward on it finally!


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