Wiki-speed: Slow & Steady Wins the Race

Over the past 9 months I’ve been researching and studying the field of Education and Technology as part of an online course called Educational Technology Integration.  The outcomes for this class include developing a working knowledge of educational technology standards and pedagogy, proficiency with fundamental technology tools and the ability to begin developing technology integrated curriculum and applying them in the classroom.  Those are big outcomes for a 9 month class, if that was all I was working on.  But I, along with the other students, am a full time professional, parent, spouse (some of us even got married during this time)… all of us juggling many responsibilities leaving little room for wasting time.  This means learning how to navigate resources on the web, allowing time to deepen the learning while not getting distracted with the plethora of technology riches that are a click away.

One tool, used frequently in education is a wiki.  Wikis are web pages used to write, edit, and add elements, such as images and video, to create collaborative projects.  Wiki websites use WYSIWYG markup language. What You See Is What You Get.

Which has me thinking of the word wiki.  Wiki means fast or quick in Hawaiian.  The Wiki Wiki Shuttle operates at the Honolulu airport moving between terminals.  It is a simple, direct tool that advances passengers and their baggage from one place to another.  It’s no Ferrari!

Similarly, the showroom of educational technology is filled with “fancy” vehicles.  So which do you take out first to test drive?

Educational Technology is not about the bells and whistles and “wow factor” for its own sake but as a vehicle for moving learners along their educational journey.  Technology is only one of the tools educators use to engage the learner and advance the learning.  Wiki Wiki shuttle drivers need practice before taking passengers.  Educators, too, need practice before taking students along the edtech drive.  How much time is enough?

The Talmud in Chagigah 9b teaches: “There is no comparison between one who studies [a section of Torah] one hundred times and one who studies it one hundred and one times.”

In his commentary to Deuteronomy 4:9 the Kli Yakar teaches that this idea of reviewing what we learn 101 times is supported by Gematria (numerology) as follows: The Hebrew word shachach means “forget” and has the numerical value of 328 (shachach is spelled shin=300, chuf=20, chet=8 totaling 328). The Hebrew word zachar means “remember” and  has the numerical value of 227 (zachar is spelled zayin=7, chuf=20, reish=200 totaling 227). The difference between shachach, forget, and zachar, remember, is 101.

To solidly embed any learning we need to review 101 times! I think what this might really mean, could have to do with patience and perseverance.  Going the extra steps might bring about a shift in mindset from rote learning to joyful engagement, from casual encounter to deep learning.

Which reminds me of the Hebrew words for patience savlanut and for suffering sevel – and the fact that they share the same root word SVL סבל.

My own learning and experimenting with technologies, finding the patience to master a technology without feeling as if I’m suffering unproductively, reminds me of the lesson from the Talmud.  I need to give myself enough time for practice and review, and then practice even more.

We’ve all suffered through presentations that weren’t well enough rehearsed.  So have our students.

Wikis are a great place to begin incorporating technology and education.  They are easy to use and can be simply constructed – and there are many fantastic educational wikis on the web to learn from.  21st century learning is all about sharing and learning collaboratively.  21st century educators need to have wikis in their toolbox.

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