Greetings and welcome to the Special Education Wiki
The site began at American University during the Summer of 2006. Students in a foundations of special education course participated in three different types of assignments that helped build this site — two of which you can find on this linked from this main page. The first assignment was to add to the "wiki" of information and ideas about exceptionality adding in research reviews related to each of the conditions. One will find links to articles posted by the students throughout the Exceptionalities links to the left. The second assignment involved participation in our ongoing discussion forum on a variety of current issues related to teaching exceptional children, which can be read under the forums.
Why a Wikicourse?
The idea behind this wikicourse was to allow participants to develop information based on the current knowledge and research base about exceptionality and teaching exceptional children using a generative model of knowledge development. In general terms, a wiki be thought of as a multi-user interface, where individuals add to the information kept online in the wiki. The most well known wiki would likely be the wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/) where users can read and edit text within a web-based encyclopedia. Within a wiki, one can think about knowledge-checks, where multiple users add to the validity of the posted information by having it be publicly available. In the case of a wikicourse, the instructor serves as "editor-in-chief", and as you, the users and students, add information to the wiki, i will evaluate your postings, provide feedback, and in some cases, corrections. This generative model of knowledge development has value, based in the concept that one has use the information in order to understand it. Instructional design models, such as the constructivist approach, provide learners with this opportunity to use generate their own higher level conceptions of ideas. This wikicourse is very much an experiment, and it is my goal that you will have the ability to access information about exceptionality and teaching exceptional children in a variety of formats.
Sped Wiki Forum
These are very straightforward. The forum are listed on the forum page, under the category ISSUES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION.
First of all, the forums are places where students (and others) may post comments, thoughts, opinions, or ideas without fear of prejudice. Any personal information you (or I) share in this space stays within this space — by participating in the discussion forum or accessing those forums in anyway, you are thereby recognizing that you agree to these terms and will not share any personal information of the participants in this course with anyone outside of this course. Any comments or postings that are percieved to "personally attack" any member of this course will be immediately deleted from the forum and further postings will be blocked. When talking about special education, people share personal information about themselves or their families, and this information is held in the highest confidence. Also, when talking about special education, sometimes students tend to self diagnose. For example, when we talk about the characteristics of ADHD, you might feel like YOU might be ADHD. Or you might read the information on depression and feel that you might be depressed. Please note that this is normal, and normal people often will have all of the characteristics of any particular condition, but these persons do not "have' the condition. We tackle a variety of topics here in the forum spaces.
Individuals are able to add content to the main wiki areas of the course with through contributions known as "wikipedian articles". For each of the conditions listed to the left, students (and others) are able add in your own "content". Some ground rules — the articles are based on other works, scholarly or newsworthy, to add to the descriptions of the conditions to support your own thoughts on any of the information currently posted on the wiki. You will create a NEW Page with a unique title (such as “Thoughts on Inclusion for Students who are Blind”), discuss the reading or article you found, and then describe how you think this information contributed to the knowledge base about students with that condition. For example, you might find a newspaper article on ADHD that discusses a new drug or treatment, and you can add this to the wiki pages about emotional and behavioral disorders, and share how teachers might need to be aware of this new medication and its effect on children. Or you might read something about the achievements of a person with a visual impairment, and add this to the section about blindness by describing what we might keep in mind as we think about the self-esteem of children who are visually impaired. Or you might read a scholarly article about inclusion and mainstreaming, and add this to any of the sections and discuss the debate about inclusion of those children into regular classrooms. Once you have created your NEW Page, you then need to edit the main wiki page for that condition, and add a link to your article where you think it might be appropriate.
A Note on Authorship
The main pages of this site were authored by the wiki "owner", namely Sarah Irvine Belson. However, there are many wiki articles throughout the site that were not authored by me, nor do they necessarily express my opinions or the opinions of the students who were and continue to be enrolled in the site. Each wiki article is authored by a specific student, and his or her name is included in the text of that article.