The purpose of this post is to give a brief overview of Wikis and their importance mainly relating it to English Language Teaching (ELT), specifically to my context as an English as a Foreign Language teacher.
Wiki is a Hawaiian word meaning “fast” or “quick.” According to Ward Cunningham, the one who coined this term, the word “wiki” (taken from Honolulu International Airport shuttle service: Wiki Wiki) was used as an alternative to the word “quick” to avoid calling the software “quick-Web.” It was started by Cunningham in Portland, Oregon, in 1994, and put on the internet in 1995. The word wiki was listed in the online Oxford English Dictionary in March 2007. This name is now part of the internet language together with other terms such as blogs and podcasts.
A wiki is a web application which allows people to modify, add, or delete content in collaboration with others (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki).
It is very interactive and collaborative and users can comment and change one another’s texts by a click of a button, edit-write-save. It uses the web 2.0 platform, which enables users to share and collaborate documents without special software or training. Anyone, from any part of the world can participate on a wiki just by having internet access. Wikis are a collection of web pages, and you can create as many pages as you like. You can also insert gadgets and widgets of any kind, upload videos, in fact, it allows you to add multiple web applications due to its web 2.0 system. One of the most popular wikis is Wikipedia.
When considering all these facilities mentioned above, I do believe that wikis should be implemented in ELT courses due to the growing demand for English learning across the globe. It makes the entire learning and teaching process of the language much simpler. Take for instance, students who live in remote areas, and cannot come to the traditional classrooms for whatever reason, this approach would be the perfect solution because it is quite appropriate for education that cannot be done in a traditional classroom environment.
Let me consider my context. I teach EFL at a world-renown software company. Most of my students (10 in all) are highly technologically-trained professionals with all the state-of-the-art devices. Therefore, wouldn’t it be impossible for me not to use some sort of technology? In addition, they almost never have the time to do any kind of out-of-class activities, thus, I normally assign computer-based homework such as web-searching for information and so forth. The creation of wikis for these courses would be so much easier and interesting, besides, it is their field.
They are all digital citizens. I am the one who, as an English teacher, has to befriend technology, so to speak.
There is so much I could do there to ease up the workload and learning process. For example, my students have to use the language at the same time they are learning and improving their proficiency. They have to do lots of conference calls, give online presentations, and write emails to their superiors, who are generally native speakers of English. Establishing course wikis would be the ideal tool for these classes because these are some of the main uses of wiki. This tool is apparently easy and straightforward, and everyone in the class would be able to read, and react to information being generated and add their modifications or corrections from the comfort of their homes.
As far as I am concerned, wiki is an amazing tool for ELT classes because it is interactive, it encourages participation, it improves students and teachers relationship, and it promotes collaboration. Anyone can edit and change the context, so it develops creativity as well. All these are traits that are necessary to become a competent and proficient user of a second language.
I hope this post was interesting for you.