Like other collaborative tools for e-learning that I discussed in my previous blogs, wikis are a great tool to incorporate into online learning environments. Incorporating a wiki into e-learning can introduce a variety of unique and powerful information sharing and collaborative features that would offer numerous benefits. First, wikis are a useful tool that will increase learning effectiveness by reducing the time and effort spent looking for information about course content as the information is readily available on the wiki. Hence, students will not need to contact the instructor for help. Moreover, having a wiki will also increase the quality of work that the students are producing by enabling the creation and discovery of online communities for various sub topics within the course or subject. Third, providing a wiki in the online learning environment will considerably reduce the email volume between the instructor and students. For instance, if an email was sent to the instructor by a student regarding a particular problem of the course content, depending on the subject and the importance of the email, the instructor can place that information on the wiki page which would benefit all of the students.
Most of the wikis will also have features that would enable e-learners to quickly identify one another in the online learning environment, thereby increasing the productivity of the unit when collaborating information and working on various projects. Another important aspect of a wiki is that it will allow for collaboratively capturing knowledge. For instance, a course wiki that is dedicated to a particular course does not have to be limited to one semester or year. Instead, the wiki can exist indefinitely until the course is no longer taught. As a result, the knowledge will grow as more students are contributing to the wiki and the new students are learning from the former students. Wikis also enable users in different locations to access, use, update, and produce documents collaboratively on their own time (i.e. no more time zone issues). Therefore, in terms of e-learners this would be useful for collaborative projects that need regular updates and feedback.
The Wiki will also foster evergreen documents, meaning that the documents that are on the wiki will always be up to date and as such the instructor and the students will remain on the same page. For instance, when emailing information back and forth, there is always the possibility that students may not receive the information or may have deleted the emails accidentally. More importantly, as a result of having a wiki, the information and idea sharing across the course will also be very easy to accomplish. Due to these aforementioned reasons, I believe that having a wiki integrated into the online learning environment would be an asset to both the students and to the instructor.