Collaborative learning can be viewed as a joint effort between students or between students and teachers together. Through collaboration, students develop knowledge by sharing ideas, joining forces to search for meaning and solutions to problems. With trends shifting towards collaborative learning resulting in the education model become more versatile, so has the technological tools used to facilitate it. In recent years there has been an exponential growth of what has been termed as “social software” referring to technologies that facilitate group communication. Internet discussion forums, social networking sites such as MySpace all allow people to represent and create social relationships, and can all be seen as social software. Weblogs that facilitate conversation across many weblogs through comments on posts, social bookmarking, and wikis are other forms of social software that have recently seen growing popularity.
The possibility of transforming learning has been greatly enhanced by use of these technologies. With the rise of social media, education can be delivered in many versatile ways. One such media “wikispaces” have received interest from the education sector. In education, wikis has gained a reputation as being one of the most effective tools for collaborative learning. Wikis are online websites which allows content to be created and edited by the users themselves. Perhaps this shift towards collaborative learning holds true to the philosophy that the knowledge of a group is greater than that of the individual.
The dominant rise of wikispace as a tool to facilitate collaborative learning might owe its success to the change in the attitude of developed society where there is a move away from the traditional industries to a more knowledge based society. During the last 20 years or so, there has been significant amount of technological innovation and a rapid shift towards knowledge based economy means it is necessary that members of society have the ability to adapt to these changes. It would appear therefore that knowing how to learn and participate in creating new knowledge are necessary life skills. With a focus on learning life skills i.e. “learning to learn” and knowledge creation in a knowledge economy, it appears that the use of wikis in education is being recognised as being capable of imparting those life skills.
Wikis are one way in which technology can help groups come together to share and create new knowledge and so may be a useful way of learning skills important to participation in a knowledge economy. The practices of participating in wikis, and social software more generally, could potentially provide a structure supporting a community of practice model of learning as individuals come together, and develop a repertoire of shared practices, bringing new experiences to the group and learning from the existing practices of the group.