Monday, July 2, 2012

Teachers Guide on The Use of Wikis in Education

Today's guide is about Wikis in education. This is the 14th guide we are publishing here and there are more coming on the way. We , in Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, are very much hoping that by the time we finish posting all the series of guides we have been working on, our readers ( most of whom are teachers and educators ) will have already acquainted themselves with some powerful web tools to integrate technology into their education. As I said in earlier guides, we will also publish a free ebook containing all the guides we have written plus several other surprises for teachers, so stay tuned.

wikis in education

Here is the outline of the artilce:

  • what is A Wiki ?
  • Reasons why Wikis are Important in Education
  • Tips for Teachers Using A Wiki
  • How teachers and Students can Use Wikis
  • Examples of Educational Wikis
  • Wiki Video Tutorials
  • Webliography

What is a Wiki ?

According to Leuf and Cunningham, a wiki is "  a free expandable collection of interlinked webpages, a hypertext system for storing and modifyinh information, a data base, where each page is easily edited by any user." A Wiki can be thought of as a combination of a web site and a Word document. At its simplest, it can be read just like any other web site, with no access privileges necessary, but its real power lies in the fact that groups can collaboratively work on the content of the site using nothing but a standard web browser.

The Wiki is gaining  traction in education as an ideal tool for collaborative work but there are more than just collaboration that makes a Wiki a promising web tool for teachers and students. Let us go through some of these features to learn more about the potential of this tool in education.

wikis in education

Reasons why Wikis are important in education

Here is a list of some of the most important features that make out of Wikis powerful learning tools in the 21st century education :

  • Most of the Wiki hosting platforms are free
  • Wikis are easy to create and do not require any tech wizardary to run and maintain them
  • They have very student-friendly interfaces
  • They can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection
  • Anyone can edit a wiki 
  • Wikis are instantaneous so there is no need to wait for a publisher to create a new edition or update information
  • Geographical borders are deleted and students from all around the world can collaborate and work on the same document
  • The Wiki software keeps track of every edit made and it is a simple process to revert back to a previous version of an article
  • Wikis widen access to the power of web publishing to non-technical users
  • Wikis are flexible and do not have a predetermined structure meaning they can be used for a wide range of applications

wikis in education

Tips for teachers before using a Wiki

Here are some points teachers need to keep in mind while using Wikis in their classrooms :

  • Select a Wiki platform that you and your students are fanilair with
  • Look for a video tutorial online on how to use that platform to share with your students
  • You can use Teachers Free tutorial making tools to create your own tutorial about how students can use the wiki you are about to set up and share it with students
  • Dedicate a whole session to just walking your students around the different features of a Wiki and get them to do some example posting before you
  • Teach them about copyright issues and ethics ( chekc these resources tostart with )
  • Give them the reasons why you are creating this Wiki and make it clear it is for learning
  • Talk to them about the benefits they can get from using a Wiki in their learning
  • Create a classroom FAQ page that will help new students learn about your wiki
  • Create a poll or do a kind of voting on the name to pick for your wiki
  • Don't forget to get parents permission and make sure to inform the school authorities about the presence of the wiki
  • Periodically brief parents about the proceedings of the classroom wiki and if possible get them to contribute too.

wikis in education

How students and teachers can use Wikis in the classroom

Here are some suggested ideas on how you can leverage the power of Wikis to your classroom teaching and learning :

  • You can share docs, media, and PDF files on your classroom wiki
  • Wikis can be used as a portal for all your lessons
  • Using the discussion feature in Wikis, You  can connect with your  students and give them extra help
  • Teachers can expand their teaching beyond the classroom walls
  • You can use your Wiki to share presentations with your students
  • Make it a class project to collaboratively write a reference book that others can use.
  • Post assignments and study guides on your Wiki for the class to work on
  • Get your class to create  summary pages on every unit they learn
  • Encourage students to share links and other helpful pieces of information on your classroom wiki
  • Allow students to make drafts on the wiki and ask others to comment on them
  • Assign portfolio pages to each of your students and allow them to display and discuss their work
  • Use your wiki for peer editing , for example students can edit each others work for spelling, grammar, or anything else you want them to learn
  • Wikis are a great way to get feedback from your students. Ask them to post comments on wiki pages
  • Use Wikis to track projects allowing thus students to see which tasks have been completed and which have not
  • Create a news outlet on your wiki
  • Create an achievement page where parents can log in to see what their kids have accomplished
  • Finally teachers can also use wikis for professional development and to connect with other educators from other places to discuss, share and learn from each other.

Two Great Wiki hosting platforms to start with

Here are some platforms where you can start your wiki for free. They are among the best available for teachers :

1- Wikispaces :

This is a free wiki host providing community wiki spaces, visual page editing, and discussion areas. It is my favourite platform and it is the first one I would recommend you try for your class.

2-  PBworks

This is another great wiki hosting platform that lets anyone sign up and create a new wiki but the free version is ad-supported.

wikis in education

Examples of Educational Wikis

1- Classroom Wikis
2- Student Created Wikis
3- Higher-Ed Wikis
4- Group Project Wikis
5- Global Connections Wikis
6- PTO Wikis
7- Teacher Peer Wikis

Wiki video tutorials:

1- How to Build an Educational Wiki

2- Using Wikis in The Classroom


A Wiki Walk Through
Wikis in Plain English
Exemplary Classroom Wikispaces
Tips for Teaching Wikis
The Way of The Wiki
Cybrary Man Wiki Resources
Wikis Connecting Education
10 Best Practices for Using Wikis in Education
17 Interesting Ways to Use a Wiki in The Classroom
50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative and Interactive Classroom

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