What it is a wiki?

A Wiki is a collection of Web pages that can be edited by anyone who is a member of the wiki. Wikis encourage collaborative learning and information sharing (generally more than one author; more collaborative; likely to update/change the Wiki pages as the project moves forward).
Watch a Common Craft video about wikis:

See also Common Craft video (downloaded to wanserver08\curriculum&instruction - in the Web 2 Training folder).
Bentley Students have created a page about Wikis on the Bentley University Support Page
See the WPS Middle School wiki to learn what a wiki is, how you can create your own wiki, and how wikis can be used with students in the classroom.


Features of a wiki

The best use of a wiki is for collaborative knowledge building. A wiki allows for shared ownership for all members. In other words, together, the authors of a wiki determine what information is posted online. Wikis are a great place to share and document information. Think of them as an easy-to-create collaborative website.
• Easy to create website
• Easy collaboration beyond classroom
• Extend discussion beyond the classroom
• Trackable page edit
One of Atomic Learning's 21st CS projects focuses on collaboration in which students use a wiki to provide a definition and image for a plethora of mathematical terms. It is called Wiki Math Mindmaps.

Differences between Blogs and Wikis

  • structured
  • highly personal
  • focused on process
  • administered by one individual
  • edited by creator
  • chronologically organized
  • flexible
  • intensively collaborative
  • focused on content
  • administered by a number of people
  • edited by anyone
  • organized in innumerable ways

Why Wiki?

Here are the top 10 reasons to use a wiki in your class or for your project:
  1. It's free!
  2. It's an area for group collaboration within a class or school
  3. It's an area for students to work at home
  4. It's great for document management and file sharing
  5. It has a history and audit trail
  6. It increases online communication skills
  7. It's easy to use, no email needed
  8. It's a way to use the internet safely
  9. It provides easy access
  10. It's automatically backed up

Some Ideas for Getting Started

  • Send letter home describing project (wiki is NOT open to the public)
  • Give them an account with a first and last name
  • Each student has their own page!
  • Have students make a homepage describing themselves (do in MS word first, the cut and paste)
  • They can comment on other pages
  • Once they’ve created a project, they can upload it onto their page
  • They can’t edit each others pages

Good to Know

  • Kids need to join wiki spaces using their e-mails
  • Stress that it’s NOT for personal e-mail, only for school purposes
  • Tell students "You are IN THE CLASS when you are IN THE WIKI" - enforce this
  • All interactions are moderated by the teacher. Students should know this ahead of time.

Top 5 rules for starting WIKIS with Middle Schoolers

1. Set firm rules for the use
2. Structure is a virtual classroom, good grammar spelling and dialog. No IM language.
3. Respectful online communication
4. Organizations/safety
5. AUA should include responsibilities

Examples of using wikis

Classroom wikis:
a resource for all assignments, rubrics, deadlines and resources to increase home-school communication
a “home-base” for bringing multiple tools together
a presentation format to demonstrate student learning Why wiki Wiki Revolution

Further Reading

"Wiki." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki. Accessed Nov 9 2007. Very throrough intro to wikis.
Stafford, Tom & Matt. "What is a Wiki?" OReilly Network. July 7, 2006. http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2006/07/07/what-is-a-wiki.html Accessed Nov 9 2007.
www.wikimatrix.org|A site that compares wikis and helps you decide which is best for what you are trying to accomplish
Utecht, Jeff. "Teacher 2.0: The Evidence." TechLearning , May 24, 2007.
http://www.techlearning.com/blog/2007/05/teacher_20_the_evidence.php . Accessed Nov 9, 2007.
Includes Blogging Rubrics for use with students, and a discussion of assignment outputs in Web 2.0 formats.
Reynard,Ruth "3 Challenges to Wiki Use in Instruction"
Thoughts on Setting up a Student Created Wiki Rosenthal Tolisano, Sylvia. Tech & Learning Advisor Blog: October 18, 2009 Excellent article about collaboration, students, and wikis. More specifically, Tolisano focusses on the importance of avoiding teacher-driven wikis in the classroom.
Thoughts on Setting up a Student Created Wiki