A small team at Kansas State University recently launched an e-learning and teaching exchange to enhance and support faculty development. This project was initially intended to serve the K-State community but has been broadened for use by all institutions of higher learning. This site is constructed using wiki technology, which permits access, multimedia expressiveness, remote collaboration, tracking, and reversibility of postings. Taken holistically, these attributes make a wiki approach ideal for sharing ideas and encouraging synergistic improvement of teaching practices. Articles posted on the wiki can include text, videos, images, and embedded Web applications and may be shared via RSS feeds. Other tools on the site are derived from MediaWiki and its open-source capabilities. The wiki includes an overall ontology, templates, categories, seeded entries, input boxes, and menus that all ensure users can easily use and join the community.
How this practice supports a primary pillar---access: ELATEwiki is intended to provide the means for members to post, share, enhance, and interact using a dynamic and evolving information exchange. The wiki approach facilitates rapid online communication and has already been used in a variety of ways. First, it allows expert teachers to share their knowledge in a fast and effective way. It allows these experts to correct and improve on ideas contributed by others. Second, novice teachers can use ELATEwiki to learn new techniques and explore ideas for improving their teaching. They can also contribute cutting-edge ideas and ensure new knowledge is made available to more established teachers. Third, ELATEwiki supports classroom access to material. Not only is the material on ELATEwiki available as a student resource, it can be used as a site for developing and posting student projects that are visible to the entire world. This sense of moving a project beyond the classroom and making it a valuable artifact tends to motivate performance and encourage collaboration between student team members, peers, experts outside the classroom, and teachers. And finally, ELATEwiki’s access feature ensures that meaningful and effective access will follow the student as they move from academic to professional life.
ELATEwiki was soft launched in March of 2009. In the first four months, the main page of the Website received over 15,000 visitors. The number of entries on ELATEwiki went from 0 to more than 150. Over 70 individuals registered as users. Currently, the wiki receives around 500 visitors a day.
Computer and Internet access. The project is complete and can be used by anyone at no cost.
Learning curve time. Anyone can immediately use ELATEwiki to acquire information. Editing, contributing, and adding multimedia content will require about 1-3 hours of exploration and learning about MediaWiki and about features implemented on ELATEwiki.
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