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Using Wikis

It used to be that in order to publish to the internet; you had to know some pretty sophisticated programming code.  Those days are gone.  A wiki is a web page or collection of web pages which you and your students can access to contribute or modify content without having to know code language or HTML.  Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis.

"Wiki" is a Hawaiian word for "fast".  {From Wikipedia}

Duffy and Bruns (2006) list several possible educational uses of wikis:

  • Students can use a wiki to develop research projects, with the wiki serving as ongoing documentation of their work.
  • Students can add summaries of their thoughts from the prescribed readings, building a collaborative annotated bibliography on a wiki.
  • A wiki can be used for publishing course resources like syllabi and handouts, and students can edit and comment on these directly for all to see.
  • Faculty can use wikis as a knowledge base, enabling them to share reflections and thoughts regarding teaching practices, and allowing for versioning and documentation.
  • Wikis can be used to map concepts. They are useful for brainstorming, and editing a given wiki topic can produce a linked network of resources.
  • A wiki can be used as a presentation tool in place of conventional software, and students are able to directly comment on and revise the presentation content.
  • Wikis are tools for group authoring. Often group members collaborate on a document by emailing to each member of the group a file that each person edits on their computer, and some attempt is then made to coordinate the edits so that everyone’s work is equally represented; using a wiki pulls the group members together and enables them to build and edit the document on a single, central wiki page.

7 things You Should Know About Wikis

Wiki as a Teaching Tool
Parker, Keving and Joseph Chao, Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, Vol 3, 2007

Good Wiki Sites (Free)

One warning - the "free" versions of WetPaint and Wikispaces contain advertisements over which you have no control.  You can purchase ad-free sites, but they can be pricey.

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Last updated: 09/22/2009
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