Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wikis: A Collaborative Tool

By Helena Filipe

'Wiki' is a Hawaiian word that means to hurry, swift, giving its name to the Honolulu International Airport shuttle.

Wiki, as far as technology is concerned, consists in an online resource which allows users to add and edit content collectively. They are participative and allow many people work together in a constructivism and connectivism environment.

Wikis, blogs and podcasts are Web 2.0 applications, which means they are a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education.

In this context the Residency Group of our Hospital (Instituto Dr. Gama Pinto, Lisbon- Portugal –UE) created a wiki supported by Google technology: Google sites.

This site allows our community to create and maintain our documents as a group as well as keeping track of activities: we know who is doing what and when.

We can prepare documents together, sharing in an asynchronous way the desktop, adding or modifying content. (In this case a PowerPoint presentation)

We can keep our papers presented in scientific conferences and meetings, sharing this information as well as obtaining other types of information and knowledge.

The wiki allows us to communicate with each other at each one’s convenience using posts that allow comments.

We can share information about scientific reunions and congresses (calendar).

We can store legal information pertaining the residency program as well as the guidelines used in each Department to teach and evaluate in the Residency Program.

Wiki’s problems consist in possible vandalism, quality problems issues, as well as they can be a time consuming project.

The access to our wiki is only granted to a limited number of people, restricting the entrance to possible lurkers and web vandals by means of a password.

Even though we have an IT engineer working with us to help in the governance and architecture of the site, Google Sites has a very friendly interface that allows setting up the site with no knowledge in programming.

In summary our wiki is a motivating and engaging web based tool that enriches social networking, stimulates knowledge construction, strengthens the virtual community of practice, making it grow with a sense of duty and responsibility but without losing the fun element.

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