EducBlog Wikispace

Welcome to my wikispace!
To be quite honest, I have never used a wiki, but scheduling seemed a really good idea for one.
So, let's learn some new tech stuff together. The was Helen Rallis' space, and she deserves credit for putting this together.
Thanks Helen.

What is a wiki? Definition

  • A wiki is a web page that can be viewed and changed by anybody who has a web browser and access to the Internet (Educause, 2005). A way of thinking about wikis is to think of them as public "bathroom walls" -- where anyone can write on the wall.
  • Wikis are designed to be interactive and collaborative, rather than static pages that are created and controlled by one person. This means they can be used asynchronously as a means of enabling two or more people to collaborate in the creation, editing and discussion of the content of the web page.
  • Wikis can incorporate text, image, sound and video files (any kind of digital file can be uploaded to a wiki and can then be viewed or downloaded by others from the wiki page).
  • Watch video of people sharing what they think a wiki is.

How to contribute to an existing wiki

  • The way most wikis work is to provide an edit link or button that enables you to edit any part of the page.
  • A text box opens. Use the scroll bar within the box to move through the text until you find the place at which you want to add your comments, and then type away.
  • If you want to be creative about the formatting that you use, click on the link "help on how to format text" below the editing window.
  • Once you are done. Click "save."

Basics of using your wiki

  • Editing is synchronous: Only one person can edit the wiki at a time. If you try to edit the wiki while someone else is editing it, a screen will give you the message that, "This topic is locked by another user." It will include the name of the person currently editing the wiki. You _can_ still edit the page by clicking on, "Edit anyway" in the toolbar that appears on the warning screen. _However_, if you do this, there is no guarantee that your changes will take effect (which means all your edits will be lost). If they do, you will overwrite what the other person is doing. So good etiquette is not to edit if someone else is already editing. You can click on "try again" to see if they have finished editing.
  • If you are editing and need to pause for more than five minutes, be sure to save your changes because the locking out of other users is reset after five minutes of inactivity.
  • Using HTML: The best way to format the wiki is using the wiki formatting (described at the bottom of the editing mode page). Although this is cumbersome, it is easy for novices to use. If you write your entries in HTML this _will_ work, but it means that people who don't know HMTL can't edit your entry (or may try and mess up your code!). In this wikispace wiki, a formatting bar is provided above the editing window, making formatting very easy (just like a word processor), but this option is not available on all wikis. Also note: For Mac users, don't try to edit a wikispace wiki using Safari as it doesn't work properly or give you the formatting bar. It is better to use Firefox.

Purposes of wikis

Wikis are designed to be used asynchronously as a means of enabling two or more people to collaborate in the creation, editing and discussion of the content of the web page. They can be used in many ways. A few examples to get you started thinking of potential uses:

  • Student collaborative projects (students can post their information and all can add, revise, edit.
  • Creating a meeting agenda which everyone can contribute items to. Following the meeting, the agenda can be expanded to become the online minutes of the meeting, which anyone can add to or revise as needed.
  • Development of online study guide (all students can contribute).
  • Creating a new course.
  • Development of a list of resources, such as websites or documents, which all can add to and access.
  • A travel journal: using a wiki would be appropriate if a number of participants in a travel group want to contribute to the journal (in contrast to an individual sharing a travel journal -- in that case, a blog would be more appropriate).
  • A photo collection.
  • Co-writing a book! See list of about 500 Wiki Books.
  • Conflict resolution - each person contributes their side of their conflict and responds.....continues through to resolution
  • For office staff to collaborate in developing office protocols
  • Faculty and/or students collaborating on research projects
  • Development of meeting agenda
  • Sharing of meeting minutes: participants could use the wiki to edit the minutes so that they are accurate. Once the minutes are then voted on, they should be removed from the wiki (and can be posted in a blog so that people can continue to comment on them, but not edit them).

Resources to learn more about creating wikis

  • To create a wiki using wikispaces, go to and sign up for this free service.
  • 7 things you should know about wikis. Educause Learning Initiative. Note: once you link to this page, you will need to download the pdf file.
  • Using wikis in education.
  • Blogs and Wikis for Collaboration and ePortfolios. University of Southern California Center for Scholarly Technology.
  • For Teachers New to Wikis. Provides information on teachers who are new to using wikis. This is a very useful overview about wikis. There are sections on: What are wikis? How can teachers use wikis to facilitate teaching, writing development, and learning? Where can teachers find appropriate wiki writing spaces? How can teachers introduce wikis to students? What obstacles can teachers expect? How can teachers get started? and Resources.
  • Traumwerk Wiki Guidelines: Traumwerk is a project of the Metamedia Lab - closely affiliated with Stanford Humanities Lab and part of Stanford's Archaeology. This has links to sections on wiki design philosophy, design principles, wiki guidelines, and basic functions. The section on guidelines provides useful tips on using wikis for collaboration. Includes: how to make collaborative authoring and research work; some tips on authoring collaborative hypertext.
  • TWiki Presentation. Peter Theony, August 2005.
  • An overview of information on wikis.

Links to other wiki creation tools

Examples of wikis used in colleges & P-12 schools

  • Carl, M. (2005). English classes use wikis instead of paper. In The Digital Collegian. An article in Penn State's Collegian newspaper about use of wikis in an English class.
  • Goodnoe, E. (2005). How To Use Wikis For Business. In Information Week, Aug. 8, 2005.
  • Grade 3-4 easily use wikis. This is a blog by Mr. P in Australia about students' use of wikis in his class. He provides a link from his blog to his class wikis if you want to jump straight to seeing these and skip Mr. P's blog. Also interesting: One of the links from his wiki page is to Mr. P's students' podcast page.

How are you using wikis? Please share your experiences

  • Group projects: I'm excited about the potential that wikis have in enabling students to collaborate on assignments. Given what appears to be increasing pressure on students to work outside of school to earn money to pay for school, I am finding that students are less and less able to coordinate their schedules outside of class for group projects. I am reluctant to give up requiring some group assignments as I believe that when students collaborate in creating something or in solving problems, they learn so much more than they would doing the same assignment on their own (provided, of course, that the assignment is suited to a group approach and provided that students all participate).
  • projects...I'm thinking about small groups of people working on their thesis purpose statements. Instead of others just giving feedback, they could actually work together on rewriting the few sentences. This would be in the Research class, as they work toward fine-tuning their topics. What I like is that each draft would stay intact, so the progress toward the final product could be tracked.
  • Taking a suggestion from English classes use wikis instead of paper.
  • One Understanding By Design (UBD) and inquiry-oriented idea is encouraging candidates to list their "essential questions" (UBD stage one) via a Wiki syllabus. Essential questions could foster some ownership and democracy in learning. Things that might logically follow are inquiry-driven topics, focused reviews of pertinent literature, and sharing of key resources. Caveat: This may demand that we as teachers to negotiate intersections between candidate interests and professional requirements (both of which make sense to me - as the two together can develop educators who take initiative and demonstrate professionalism).
  • I tried using it in class to have students work collaboratively to develop a document about Qualities of Good Web Sites, but it didn't work well in class, because only one person can be editing the page at a time! (duh!) So it needs to be done asynchronously, rather than simultaneously. Terrie
  • UMDTechFestWiki is a wiki that we used at UMD's Tech Fest on March 30th, 2006. It was used to teach people how to create and use wikis. Participants experimented with editing this wiki throughout the course of the session.
  • My brother teaches a course on the Geography of Australia and New Zealand. Each year he takes a group of students on a trip of those countries. Throughout the trip he maintains a travel journal on his website, using input from the students. On his next trip he is planning to use a wiki so that all the students can participate directly in creating the journal (rather than them having to tell him what to enter on his website).
  • Office hours: I have just created a wiki for my office hours, so that students can sign up online without having to play tag with me or come in to my office in person to sign up for office hours. See:

Questions and discussion

  • Is anyone writing about what is gained and what is lost when technology takes a democratic and participatory turn?
  • An issue about using a wiki for teaching is reliability and stability of the wiki host. This is not an issue for us at the U of MN, but for faculty and teachers whose institutions do not support a wiki, they have to use public wiki services (such as Peanut Butter Wiki). The fear is that they will put a lot of work into the wiki and then lose it if the service is dropped.