Have you used wikis in your work as an early educator?

Can you imagine ways to use wikis to support your work? Let's share ideas here:

I have used Wikis as a class assignment for my pre-service early childhood teachers. They choose a topic (I approve it) and then they do research and share information on that topic. Some of the Wikis have been on: rough and tumble play, infant and toddler language develoment, potty training, childhood obesity, the importance of motor development in ECH.

I have not used them yet, but I will be using them with my ECE pre-service teachers. Right now I am considering the potential ways I can use them and ways my students may use them with children. I am so excited to get going, but it will probably be summer semester before I make much headway.

We are planning to use wikis in a new leadership development project that has just been funded. Many of the participants have been online in our Administrator Credential program already and they are up for trying new things. I'm most interested in how learner-contributed content and social networking will enhance the learning community and strengthen the offline networking among child care professionals. Stay tuned! Chip

Do you find you have to train your students first on how to use wikis? It sounds like they would be great for doing a group project together around a topic. I am wondering about the advantage of using a wiki over a class website in something like Blackboard. I guess an obvious one is that you don't loose the information when the course is over. Any others that all of you can think of? Sue

I use it in my high school child development class as both a website/blog type thing and the kids LOVE it. This also allows me to have the students from my 5 different classes (15 students each) to interact with the other classes (normally they don't) on things like lessons they need to do or the children who are the lab class for this class. Each child has 5 different high school students they will see (crazy high school schedule) and this allows there to be consistency amongst the students on the child they are responsible for. It also allows them to bring up concerns and solutions for all. The advanced classes also help the beginning classes with their experience. In terms of training them how to use it-- a one shot demonstration using your computer and projector and the how to get on there. They are used to this via Facebook so very little training involved. AND soon you find them going on this more than Facebook since it uses their brain more. I also put up You Tube videos of fun things that if stretching the term, dealt with child development such as the Roller Babies commercial or songs on You Tube, etc and asked them to respond to one of them as a preliminary exercise. Later I added newsclip widgets, etc and they can go on there for the newest news items in our area or nation about education. (Facebook doesn't have those)! Now that I know about YOUTUBE.edu (thanks Warren), I intend to put those up too!!!! I also now use this as a "green" effort with the accompanying preschool lab class as I do the daily newsletter via the wiki for parents and photos that accompany. Then they can share these with grandparents. (Both of these wikis are separate since the one for my child development classes is more of a teaching tool and I don't want parents to see it even though since doing this (almost a year), no student has ever put anything inappropriate on there (for threat of deletion and an F). CDTEACH

Sue, this seems like a good place to stick this -- If it doesn't fit, feel free to move it --

WHY WIKIS? .
TOP DOWN -- A typical 1200 word article in Young Children consists of dead words, printed on dead trees that are non-interactive. It "comes at" you; you don't "come at it." You either disagree with it or agree with it -- it is hit or miss. Like a classroom lecture, it lasts for a while and immediately starts to fade. It represents the pre-Internet form of publishing, coming in waves of discourse in monthly surges. A few editors are the information gatekeepers and the reader can't easily or quickly respond.

vs.

BOTTOMS UP -- Those same 1200 words on a social web service like our fledgling wiki can spark a single idea in a smart reader snowed in with a Dell and Wi-Fi in Traverse City, that can get recorded. That can lead to another idea; and another and soon you have a snowball of ideas. The idea stays alive forever (not just a month), requires no postage. It comes up in RSS feeds and Google searches -- living and growing, twittered, cut and pasted, and turning into something altogether new (they call them mashups) under the flag of Creative Commons. We all are the "jury" -- part of public discourse that can number in the millions from anywhere in the world. Instead of waves, it is a continual stream.

Obviously the best approach is a hybrid of old and new. A wiki needs the credibility and tradition of Young Children (we all know, most ECE folk just don't have the time to mess around with this stuff) plus there's something that will never replace the smell of ink on paper; and Young Children needs to capture the best ideas in minimal space. Using our wiki as a sandbox of many rich, practical ideas, from which a good writer can synthesize it all into a nice 1200 word cake makes the most sense.

Sincerely yours,
Wiki Warren (hey, and my middle name is William!). So I guess you can legally call me WWW. (You guys think I should start carrying a sword or something so I could carve out my initials in things?)