A wikiis an online document, viewed in a web browser, that allows a user or users to add and accumulate information on a topic. Usually, but not always, people work collaboratively on a wiki, so it’s a terrific learning tool.
Anyone can set up a wiki and invite others to contribute. All of the pages are visible and can be edited in the browser. What is unusual about a wiki, compared to many other forms of writing, is the ability of all users to edit and change the work of fellow collaborators, definitely a “we’re all working together project” that teaches group members to cooperate with one another and respect their work. A wiki document can include text, links, pictures, and video.
Have you been ever in a work situation where you feel especially old — as younger colleagues occasionally roll their eyes, proudly demonstrating their up-to-the-minute technology skills? Or maybe you’ve seen more experienced workers shoot down younger worker’s ideas. Lots of people in mid and late career periods, well people of all ages really, note these frustrations. It’s not all about age or technology — it’s about working together.
…and guess what?
Teams with differing ages and skills are often the most productive. While technology skills are important, collaborative skills and teamwork are more significant. In today’s fast-changing world, we are spending considerable effort teaching tech-savvy students how to work together with people who have differing perspectives and different kinds of ideas. Twenty-first Century employers are on the lookout for workers who can collaborate.
Sometimes older and more experienced team members offer points of view that add innovative problem-solving puzzle pieces to a team’s project. Younger workers can push limits and eagerly try new things. Older workers can also be skilled mentors. Skilled leadership, the ability to help people form a cohesive team, is a key to success.
Jessica Matthews, a co-creator of the energy-producing soccer ball, SOccket, visited my school today, taking the place by storm with her stories and engaging presentation.
A collaborative, 21st Century learning team working together for an undergraduate college class project, envisioned a soccer ball that might create clean energy as it moved around, while still being a ball for playing soccer. Their SOccket invention is astonishing and inspiring, creating enough energy to plug in a lamp or charge a mobile phone. Now, several years later, two members of the team have become social entrepreneurs, and SOccket is in production.
Libraries have always been amazing places, but today, look no further than a college, university, or public library to observe an institution that has figured out how to support access to information and 21st Century learning. Libraries are especially adept at encouraging patrons to collaborate.
I am sitting in the James Branch Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Officially I am here to search through the archives on the fourth floor, learning more about Virginia’s Massive Resistance era, but now it’s lunchtime and I am taking a break, walking around, and exploring a bit.
Libraries are very different from the time when I went to college or even a 10 years ago when I took my last graduate course. Today every library that I visit is collaborative — welcoming interaction among patrons, connecting information from everywhere, and inviting people inside, even first time visitors like me.
If we are not willing to collaborate today, we are not learning especially well.
Below I’ve shared some of the interesting points from Bill Gates’ education presentation at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference. The foundation is no less energized in the area of 21 Century and digital learning than it is in international health.
Gates believes that we have a big opportunity for change over the next ten years.
Teaching is not about access to knowledge — it’s about making the material relevant and connecting the learning with information that will nourish minds. Oh, and creating more knowledge…
Judgment and critical evaluation skills (about content) will be paramount.
[My note: This goes for kids, adolescents, adults, and seniors.]
At a time when cyber-bullying is a nationwide problem and negative political campaign advertisements are saturating the airwaves, some compelling signs indicate that students who are not immersed in activities that emphasize respect, responsibility, and collaboration may be disadvantaged in job interviews.
According to Job Interviewing, to the Extreme, an article at LATimes.com, many employers are incorporating new and sometimes innovative techniques into job interviews. These include interviewing two candidates at once to see how they communicate with one another, asking interviewees to solve offbeat problems, and conducting some part of an interview on Twitter. The goal of these unconventional methods is to figure out how an employee might function under pressure and whether he or she might communicate awkwardly or not know how to be a team player.
Best Quote from the Article
…while some applicants reveal a creativity that might have been smothered in a more conventional interview process, others expose tics and weaknesses that might have remained hidden.