Ready to Get Wiki with It?

The first wiki was created by Ward Cunningham in 1995. He wanted to create an easy authoring tool so that ordinary people could publish on the internet. He took the Hawaiian word wiki-wiki, which means fast, and started a revolution in online publishing. A wiki is essentially a website that can be quickly and collaboratively edited. The keyword here is collaboratively. The cool thing about a wiki is that it can be modified, corrected and/or updated by its readers, resulting in the combined knowledge of many.

Wikipedia is a well-known wiki that allows readers to create and improve upon reference sites about every imaginable topic. The content of Wikipedia is instantly editable, making it an extremely up-to-date information source.

Wikis are becoming very popular in the education sector. Teachers are using wikis to communicate and collaborate with students via classroom sites that include text, pictures, assignments, links to other resources and multimedia, and discussion boards. Students are creating detailed information resources on many academic topics while sharing their knowledge and learning from one other. Once again, the walls of the classroom are expanding to give students access to a global web of information and a world-wide audience.

By the way, what you are reading right now is a wiki. :-)

To better understand the concept of wikis, check out this video entitled "Wikis in Plain English":

Educational Benefits/Classroom Applications:

  • Students have ownership of the knowledge. They actively seek it, and they create it.
  • Students are given the responsibility to look after a publication with a global audience. It's not just their teacher reading their work.
  • High-level critical thinking is developed as students critique others' contributions for accuracy.
  • Increased information literacy skills are required as students check their facts for accuracy and correct errors discovered by their peers.
  • Create an online text for your curriculum that you and your students can contribute to.
  • Engage in collaborative projects with other classrooms and other schools.
  • Create collaborative stories and books.

Uses for Wikis:

  • Discussion Boards ~ Post a video, a picture, a question, a reading assignment, a web link, etc. then have students participate in a discussion thread. You can easily monitor who participates and how often.
  • Publication Opportunities ~ Students can create their own pages, customize them with pictures and graphics, then publish their work for private or public viewing. Wikis have been referred to as a "safe" myspace, so students love it!
  • Group Collaboration ~ A wiki can give students the opportunity to work on a group document from home and in class. You can easily monitor who contributes and watch the project take shape.
  • Online Literary Circles ~ As with discussion boards and group collaboration, this is a great way to facilitate a discussion about a novel from home.
  • Peer Revision ~ Students can post drafts of written work, comment, edit, revise and respond via discussion board.
  • Electronic Portfolios ~ Create a class homepage and a page for every student in the class to upload their written assignments. Combine this with all of these activities and students can create, collect and maintain quite a portfolio to show learning and progress throughout the school year.
  • Projects ~ Have students create a wiki for a class project at the end of a unit. For example, students could create a wiki page of a famous author or character in a book (similar to a "myspace" format).
  • Research ~ What a refreshing twist to the traditional research "paper"! Students can now create their own website on virtually any topic imaginable.
  • And much, much more ~ With your creativity, the sky's the limit!

Popular Wiki Creation Sites for Educators:

external image wikispaces.png

Real-world Examples of Classroom Wikis:

Using a wiki in your Classroom? Share the wealth!

Once you have had the chance to develop a wiki space of your own, let me know and Ill post your site on this page!

Tricking Out Your Wiki:

Some teachers have also started to modify the look of their wikis by embedding Web 2.0 tools such as Glogster to create attractive, customized home pages. Be sure to check out the glog I created for my wikispace home page! :-)

In addition, there are also various tools on the web that allow you to create custom headlines for your wiki. A few include:

Additional Resources: