The Challenge of Using Wikis in School: The Experiences of Two Grade Six Teachers

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Chin, Jane
Education , ICT
This study augments an expanding body of research literature examining the complex process of integrating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and introducing ICT-related literacy skills into English Language Arts classrooms. Widespread social changes related to ICT are impacting the literacy practices of people in everyday society. These changes in literacy practices represent challenges to teachers who have never used these literacy skills and have never seen them taught. Through two case studies, this hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry examines the experiences of two teachers who learn and lead learning using wikis. Data collection was conducted in two Grade 6 classrooms: one in an Ontario public school and one in a private international school in Mexico and consisted of observations, informal and formal interviews with the teachers as well as observations and focus group interviews with their students. The complex phenomenon of learning ICT and almost simultaneously having to teach it is documented and analyzed. The research involved teaching the teachers how to use a wiki and then co-planning and observing them teach a creative writing unit on the wiki. Data was analyzed and discussed with reference to Lankshear and Knobel’s (2011) Paradigms. Findings indicated that the two teachers held largely Paradigm 1(linear, individualistic and bounded) conceptions of literacy while the multimodal writing students were producing on the wiki represented Paradigm 2 practices (non-linear, collaborative and unbounded.) Also, the context of school was an insurmountable hurdle in the teachers’ efforts to integrate ICT into their English Language Arts classrooms in both cases. This study sheds light on the specific moments when this contrast between Paradigm 1 and Paradigm 2 perspectives impeded deep student engagement in digital literacy skills related to the wiki.
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