Book: “Using Wikis for Online Collaboration”, by James West

Using Wikis

The Power of the Read-Write Web

Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the once-static Web has evolved into the read-write Web, offering new opportunities for online interaction, collaboration, and learning (Richardson, 2006). The growth of such next-generation Web tools as blogs, social networks, and wikis is astounding, with new collaborative tools appearing online almost daily.

This important book is a practical resource for learning to harness the power of wikis to create a shared environment where online students can actively participate in the integration and co-creation of knowledge; it shows how to plan, design, and facilitate collaborative wiki projects into effective online courses.

A wiki is an online collaborative writing tool … a “collaborative web space where anyone can add content and anyone can edit content that has already been published” (Richardson, 2006, p. 8).

Perhaps the most well-known wiki is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia with completely open content: nearly every article can be edited by anyone.

Although centred on collaborative learning, Using Wikis for Online Collaboration also touches general collaboration issues, with applicability in other environments, including enterprise.

Wikis present an approach to group writing and editing that is more efficient than forwarding e-mail attachments with tracked changes, a method that supports only one editor at a time and can create issues with students having multiple and conflicting versions of the same document.

All wikis support the creation of multiple pages by multiple authors … Most wikis support some type of embedded communication among wiki members. … like … page comments. The ability to communicate with other members within the wiki can be instrumental to the success of an online wiki project.

Millennial Students and Online Collaboration

One interesting observation is that Students born after 1982, often called millennials … are already “wired” for online collaborative writing. … They prefer instant feedback, instant messaging, and instant delivery. … millennial students and working adults will bring different strengths to a wiki project … Millennials will be more likely to value social collaboration during the process. Adults will be more capable writers and editors.

Other subjects covered by the book are: Skills and Abilities Required for Wiki Work, Building the framework – Designing the Wiki project, Monitoring construction – Managing the Wiki process.

In the second half of the book, the author presents several scenarios, like designing Wiki projects for collaborative learning, for knowledge construction, for critical thinking and contextual applications.


The book is very well structured, with good argumentation, includes a good number of references and in general has all attributes of a true academic writing.

Among its conclusions we can mention:

The power of the wiki is limited only by its contributors. Wikis are flexible enough to be adapted to small group projects as well as large-scale global collaborations.

More and more companies are relying on collaboration among physically dispersed virtual teams to solve problems and develop new ideas. Collaborative tools, such as wikis and content management systems, are enabling a transparent virtual workplace that will continue to grow in future years. Virtual teams have widely adopted wikis because they enable balanced participation from team members and are accessible at any place and any time (Mader, 2008).

[Published by Jossey-Bass (December 15, 2008), ISBN-13: 978-0470343333, available from Amazon]

About Liviu Ionescu (ilg)
Hi! My name is Liviu Ionescu (ilg, ilegeul or eunete for colleagues and friends) and I’m a senior IT engineer. Or should I say a real programmer?

One Response to Book: “Using Wikis for Online Collaboration”, by James West

  1. Pingback: Open source solutions for online enterprise collaboration « ilg The Geek's blog

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