I have claimed in several occasions that blogs and wikis are not (very) good tools for knowledge building, progressive inquiry learning or other sophisticated social constructivist learning methods and models.
Blogs and wikis are not (very) good tools for knowledge building because they are not designed for that. Using blogs and wikis for knowledge building is a bit like hammering a nail with a screwdriver. You can do it, but it can be very painful.
I noticed this again when trying to follow and participate in the idea exchange in the blogosphere on the Wikiversity and Wikieducator. There was a potentiality and a real need for “knowledge building”. Part of the discussion took place on this blog. The discussion was started by Leigh Blackall. At the moment it is going on in many different locations (can’t collect all the links in here, sorry). For me the discussions simply died because there wasn’t anyway to get it from the blog posts and comments to another level. Even following the comments and point of views end-up to be impossible.
Blogs are personal spaces. For knowledge building you need shared spaces. Blogs are always owned and authored by someone. For knowledge building you need common spaces. Blogs are individual tools. For knowledge building you need collaborative (group) tools.
You may have “group blogs”, make agreement on tags used and aggregate all the posts related to some topic in one place. Still this hardly even happens. Blog technology is only part of the problem. The major problem is the culture of blogging. Blogs are tools for individualism, where “Me myself and I” are the most important things. Social software? – My ….
What about wikis? Wikis are shared and common spaces. They are obviously collaborative tools. The challenge with wikis is the poor support they have for constructive discourse and dialogue. The wiki talk page and threaded discussion forums are as good for knowledge building as any other online forums. Again they are fine for exchanging ideas but do not scaffold participants to have knowledge building.
Also the culture of use of wikis is different than in a knowledge building. With wiki you are building hypermedia, collection of web pages. The focus is primary on the specific artifact(s) you are constructing not in the discussion. In it’s best knowledge building also produces some kind of “crystallization” of the work. In science it is in most cases a study report or an article. In art and design it can be a prototype, mock-up or a product.
In a knowledge building group or community you try to define problems, hypothesis, evidence and conclusions, similar way as in a scientific research process. To do this online you need people who are able to scaffold themselves and each other. A good teacher is able to do this, but could software help people (teachers and students) to do this?
Can the new version (Fle3+2.0) of Fle3 do this? I don’t know, but it is our hypothesis.