The Wonderful World of Wikis in the Classroom

What is a wiki?

According to http://dictionary.reference.com/ , a wiki is a Web site that allows anyone to add, delete, or revise content by using a web browser.

The term "wiki" is actually a Hawaiian word for "quick." Wikis can be published quickly and edited just as quickly.

How does a Wiki differ from a Web site?

On a Web site:
  • Information moves from publishers to consumers, like a bulletin board or newspaper.
  • Information cannot be edited after it is published; it's static.
  • It is a "One-Way Web."
On a Wiki:
  • Information is as easy to create as it is to consume.
  • Information is collaborative. Anyone can publish, share, and change the information.
  • Information flows both ways. It is a "Two-Way Web."

Why would a wiki be useful in a classroom?

  • They are interactive.
  • They are student centered, not just teacher delivered.
  • They work well with Project Based Learning.
  • They extend the school day, because they are asynchronous.
  • They allow for creativity.
  • They offer new ways for students to participate in the class.
  • They improve communication.
  • They build 21st century skills.
  • They offer new ways to assess learning.
  • They are visually attractive and interesting to students.

How are wikis used in schools?

In addition to posting resources, documents, syllabi, media, etc., wikis can also be used for:
  • Discussions
  • ePortfolios
  • Collaboration
  • Competitions
  • Alternative Assessment
  • Group Projects

Examples

Elementary Class Wikis
Middle School Class Wikis
High School Class Wikis
Student Wikis
  • Holes, by Louis Sachar
  • Adams Middle School News
  • The Philosopher King - This is a collaborative project between two high school on opposite ends of the continent that create alternative plans to the Reconstruction of the United States after the Civil War, and then each class critiques the plans of the other. Images, videos, and text make up this project which seeks to have students appreciate the difficulties working politicians endure, as well as to the learn the history by doing.

More On Educational Wikis


What could a wiki do for me, the Typical Teacher?

Projects

Use a wiki so that students can collaborate on group projects and then present their work product. See this article about the new Projects feature on Wikispaces. Wikis work well for project based learning, as explained here:

Polls

Get feedback, opinions on issues, student assessment of other students, vote on decisions, etc. Use the Poll feature listed as a widget to insert.

Discussions

Hold online discussions about topics being taught in class. Click on the "Discussion" tab.

Video Lessons

Download and use free software called Jing to screencast a lesson, recording your voice and everything you do onscreen. Students can view it later from the wiki to review subject matter or when they miss a lesson.

Showcase

Display class work as inserted picture files, text files, podcasts (VoiceThread), PowerPoints, etc. or use it as an ePortfolio for each student to chronicle their progress. Students could create their own "glog" illustrating what they've learned and post it on the wiki using the "poster" widget.

Pathfinder

Display resources to be used for an assignment or have students collect resources here. Use links, images, video/audio clips, documents and/or citations.

WebQuest

Have students accomplish an online task to explore and collect information in order to produce something using the WebQuest format. See examples at Teachers First.

Bulletin Board

Wikis can be used to post the same sorts of information that class websites can be used to post: assignments, calendar, grading rubrics, documents, links and forms. The interactive, collaborative, creative aspects of wikis cannot be done there, however.

How do I Do IT?

Now that you're motivated to take advantage of all that wikis have to offer, use the About the Wiki and Wiki Q and A pages to find out more.

Start with a simple Edit. After logging in, click the "Edit" button and type something. Then, "Save."

Getting Tricky With Wikis has some surprises. Lots of advice on how to use wikitext or wikispaces options to customize your wiki.