Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

Wondering about Wikis- Give Them a Try!

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Technology in Education Column

Here is the third installment of our most recent feature, written by one of our CNA Centennial 100 Award Winners, Dr. Sandra Bassendowski, Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Sandra recognized a need, and offered to write this important column for the CJNI – she is off to a great start with this second column focused on innovative Podcasting and how it can be used in nursing education. Sandra has been recognized by the Canadian Nurses’ Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the University of Regina for her inspiring, dedicated work in her educational practice.

Wondering about Wikis- Give Them a Try!

I first heard about Wikipedia a few years ago at a teaching and learning conference and as I listened to a discussion about the reliability (or lack of reliability) of this web-based encyclopedia project, I realized that I did not really understand the elements of the argument. As soon as I returned home, I spent considerable time viewing the features of the site and determining if any of the features could be used in a teaching and learning environment. The Wikipedia is predominately a collaborative development initiative as any individual with Web access can initiate, add, or edit a wiki entry. As a result, articles are never really finished; they are changing and evolving with the intent of providing a balanced coverage of a topic. In addition to the encyclopedia, there are a range of other products that educators might find useful such as Wikiquote, Wikiversity, Wikibooks, and Wikinews.

Each site provides a multitude of links and sources that can be accessed for information, photos, and other types of material.The Wikibook format is something that can be effectively used in a teaching and learning environment for both faculty and students. As an educator, you can either set up your own wikibook with a user URL or if you work in a higher education organization that has a wiki site, you can place a private or public wikibook on that site. I use a wikibook for one of my courses and students access it to post their assignments as mini-chapters of the book. I have intentionally kept the wiki as a public site, believing that it leads to greater accountability from the students if they know that anyone can access the site and read their postings. A wiki can also be used by educators for their professional needs
as it provides an ideal place for reading, editing, and revising a document. All changes to a document are immediately updated so anyone else logging on to the wiki has access to the latest committee or team document. It eliminates the frustrations of team members working from different versions of a document that have been sent to members as attachments.

From a pedagogical perspective, projects such as Wikibooks support collaborative learning and assist students in dealing with a complicated and diverse world. Generally, students benefit from working with others and sharing knowledge to solve a problem or complete a project. Educators are being challenged to design educational projects that support engagement and group processes rather than focusing on individual performance (Brill & Park, 2008; McGee & Diaz, 2007). Users are encouraged to define for themselves how their processes and groups will develop and evolve (Lamb, 2004). Educators should think about the content and the processes that will assist with or enhance student learning and consider using wikis as a teaching and learning tool. “Selecting technologies that will further teaching and learning should be a dynamic and iterative process for an institution, for departments that support teaching and learning, and for the individual faculty member” (McGee & Diaz, 2007, Conclusion, para. 1).


Brill, J., & Park, Y. (2008). Facilitating engaged learning in the interaction Age: Taking a
pedagogically-disciplined approach to innovation with emergent technologies. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 70-78. [Online]. Retrieved February 12, 2009 from

Lamb, B. (2004). Wide open spaces: Wikis, ready or not. EDUCAUSE Review, 39(5), 36-48. [Online]. Retrieved March 8, 2009 from

McGee, P., & Diaz, V. (2007). Wikis and podcasts and blogs! Oh my! What is a faculty member supposed to do? EDUCAUSE Review, 42(5), 28-41. [Online].Retrieved March 8, 2009 from

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