This discussion transpired on the Ed-Tech mail-list of H-Net on Jan 20-22:

Hi Jeff

Thanks for your insightful response.

I’m suggesting that there is more than incremental potential to taking the responses gleaned from a list-serv and synthesizing them, and then having that synthesis available for others to view and update in an organized manner.

As you say, an important element of any communication system is the sense of community and interactivity which it enables. A wiki, unlike a list-serv archive, blog, or normal websites, enables anyone browsing it to improve it, and be part of that community building that body of knowledge.

I don't think that the internet can really be called "the mother of all wikis," because until wikis, there was not open access to update the website you were viewing. Wikis may be, as you say, an "incremental" change, but it sure seems like a powerful way to collaborate [for those who are interested].

I see it as an opportunity, not a chore. Posting a powerful synthesis/evaluation of an educational-technology issue and then allowing collaboration on that analysis can be rewarding in and of itself. These higher-level thinking skills and collaboration are exactly the lessons we're trying to impart to our students. The wiki is another way for us to engage in the process ourselves :)

Cheers, Demetri

Demetri/All: As I have observed many times, e-communications resources have a great deal more in common than that which distinguishes one from another. Blogs and Wikis, as ways to publish, interactively display, and accumulate, have a lot to offer, but are an incremental rather than significant step forward. The most significant feature of all e-communications solutions is that they are accessible and interactive to anyone, at any time. What makes a resource useful is how it is used...which in turn is dictated by the interest, intent, habit, ability, and dedication of its users. It isn't surprising that a heavy user of a LISTSERV would be resentful of adding another chore to his/her workday by contributing to an organized knowledge base such as a Wiki. But it isn't just the issue of redundancy. The overwhelming majority of the questions asked here can be very easily answered through any of a thousand informational websites (Google + the open Internet being the mother of all Wikis!). I daresay many could even get their questions answered by calling their own systems support help desks. Does that mean LISTSERV members are lazy? the world of e-communications, they just prefer interactivity to static display, prefer personal response to anonymous writing. There are relationships here...for them, the knowledge accumulation process here is more personal, more direct, even as it crosses space, time, and boundaries. Everybody here knows Bernie, Karen, Jennifer, Bob, Andy. Wikis, LISTSERVs, blogs, forums ultimately reflect the goals and habits of their users, and as the technology tools involved in all of them borrow from each other and begin to bleed together, that will unltimately be the ONLY significant distinguishing factor between them. With over 16 years and 4,000+ members, EDTECH is a firm, well-used interactive knowledge development and display tool with habits and patterns of use reflecting that membership and its key players. We can debate endlessly the accuracy of one information system over another. One might presume that the larger the pool of contributers, the larger the probability of gaining accurate information...which implies that WikiPedia may very well be the only stellar example of its type, since a Wiki with only a handful of contributers is nothing but an anonymous blog. I applaud Demetri for trying something new, and if he is successful in getting yet another knowledge development and display resource going and active, I'm all for it. But that'll depend on who shows up. Being a wiki won't, in itself, be enough. And EDTECH, as crude as it is (I'm still TELNET-ing into a Linux box to use a command-line email client to do my EDTECH management responsibilities!), has the participation level thing pretty much handled. Of course, we could also add the whole discussion about technology users' tendencies to treat all knowledge as mere data, but it's past my bedtime...;-) Jeff Jeffrey L. Jones

Guy, Thank you for replying to my message on the list about the school computing wiki I agree that when someone posts a synthesis of responses back to the list-serv after asking a question that it is "giving back"; however, my point is that contributing the sythesized response to a wiki provides two significant advantages: 1) items posted to a wiki can be updated and tweaked by any number of users therefore allowing the information to be kept current and to become richer with each additional contributor's additions; 2) well-developed wikis provide an organizational structure cataloging information in related areas thereby allowing searchers to find related information that might not have surfaced from searching a list-serv archive.

In searching a list-serv archives, you are constrained to the search terms which you might try entering, vs. being able to browse a wiki's table of contents by content area, which enables you to possibly locate content which you might not have thought to search on.

I am not "asking others to do my work" ... in fact, I and others have put many hours into this collaborative wiki effort posting and organizing interesting educational technology informaion, hoping to "seed" it so that others will notice the benefit of a collaborative approach to information collection and cataloging. While it's clear that you take advantage of the ability to search a list-serv archive, I'm not sure others do this. Many times I see the same questions recirculate on the list. Again, I think that browsing, searching, and contributing to a wiki is a much more dynamic form of information filtering and fusing than the frozen and chronologically linear nature of a list-serv archive. I don't think wikis replace the immediate communication which a list-serv provides, but I do think they provide a way for us to build a dynamic and robust inventory of our collective knowledge.

Wikis are a new form of collaborative communication that offer significant advantages over static archives. I just want to encourage technology leaders to understand this technology, have the opportunity to experience it, and take advantage of it. IMO it's an empowering feeling to collaboratively edit a valuable information resource; often editing with people you've never met, spread across the country, and the globe, but people who share a common interest and desire to provide a valuable resource to their colleagues. I think we need to be engaged in this modeling of 21st c. skill.

best regards, demetri


Excuse me, but I thought that when I and my fellow participants on EDTECH respond to each other's queries that we are "giving back."

The responses are synthesized. The whole mailing list is available online and can be easily searched or browsed in threaded mode. If you want more than that, you are asking the very busy participants of this list to do your work for you.

Please forgive me if I have totally misunderstood your intentions.

Guy Durrant

> From: Demetri Orlando <> > > Dear ED-TECH Colleagues, > > Have you learned something after you've posted a question here? Perhaps you > have asked about open-source software, legal music, or LCD projectors? > > Please consider "giving back" to the online community by synthesizing the > responses you received and posting it to the k-

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