We might call them "telescopic" wikis

or something like that: wikis that function as filters and perceptual “lenses” for collaborative knowledge construction between globally-partnered classrooms.

Does a classroom of learners on one side of the planet require a “close up” on a hard-to-see subject on the other side? This edu-wiki provides a microscopic view. Or do students, in order to understand a subject better, need a “long” or “objective” view? This wiki works as a telescope, too, helping students view the subject from a more distanced perspective.

It’s not unreasonable to think that teachers in widely separated learning environments can by wiki-ing orchestrate and coalesce the efforts of students on both ends. Though in real time and space separated by time zones, biospheres, cultures, etc., students enhance their inquiry into the same subject, each helping and using the other.

In a “telescopic” class wiki, each class uses its own proximity to a subject and the other class’, to deepen inquiry and sharpen focus. One end of the “telescopic” class wiki works to strengthen the learning at the other end, and so on, back and forth, forever, ad wikinitum.

Biology class example: freshmen Bio students in Los Angeles e-twin with sub-saharan African Biology students. The same biological processes are studied, but in widely divergent ecosystems. Through their e-pal learning partners, students in LA are able to better understand drought cyles, while the Senegalese students are able to gain a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of pollution problems affecting the LA region.

MY PLAN; My 10th graders in suburban Chicago, reading The Whale Rider, set in exotic Maori culture work collaboratively with some kiwis (new zealanders) studying American literature. Well, Australians might be ok, too. Regardless, they could be kids in the next room. Through effective wiki-ing, my Americans ask intelligent questions of their kiwi counterparts, who on their side are studying Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. In asking and answering, students deepen research, communication skills.

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