Working with Wikis

Wiki – wiki is a Hawaiian word that means “quick”. A wiki page is a webpage that can be quickly created and edited.  It will not have a professional look like other websites, but it gives you an easy way to create a web site for your students to use as a resource, or as a spot for your students to create and share work on.  One of the most popular examples of a wiki is Wikipedia. Users can edit the pages on Wikipedia: submitting content and links on topics, embedding images, and linking to similar topics. The accuracy of the information on Wikipedia can sometimes be questionable,  it is up to the user community to monitor entries for accuracy.

There are many different web tools available for creating free wikis. The tool that many of our teachers use is Wikispaces . With Wikispaces, teachers can create free wikis, can create student accounts without email addresses, and have a lot of storage space.  A wiki can be used as a webpage for students and parents, a project and assignment area for students, or a connection ( collaboration ) between two classrooms. The choice is up to you.

Some Uses of Wikis

Middle School Communication Arts – students created a webpage for a fictional candy company.
 
General Science wiki on Forms of Energy – students had to take pictures to demonstrate forms of energy, define the concepts, and create calculation problems involving their assigned topic.
 
50 States Project – One of our 5th grade classes participated in this project which culminated with a Skype call to a class in Alabama.

Collection of Wiki Ideas  – This site gives several ways to use wikis for various content areas.

Teacher Interview

Podcast Interview – Conversation with two of our own middle school teachers who have used wikis with their students succesfully. Take a listen while you grade some student work !

 Tips for Using Wikispaces

  • Lock pages that you do not want students to be able to change. Sometimes students will accidentally work on the wrong page.
  • Have a plan for how students will work. Define specific pages for them to work on or have a system in place so that only one student is editing a single page at a time.
  • Encourage students to type content in Microsoft Word and then paste into the wiki. This allows them to save their work and use spell check.
  • Word Art in Microsoft Word will not work .
  • Centering does not always work well. Try to keep everything left justified.
  • If you are using the discussion tab, give your students clear expectations for the discussion area. Let them know how formal their writing should be and how they will be evaluated for the discussion. If you don’t, you can expect to see a lot of LOL and IDK popping up. 

In Closing … 

Wikis are a fantastic way for students to collaborate together on projects. It is also a flexible tool that allows students to embed other content like Vokis, Google Maps, and Glogs very easily. How you have students collaborate is up to you. The discussion tab is ideal for students to give and receive peer feedback as they work on a project and when they showcase their finished product. Students could also collaborate with students in another school, state, or country by using a wiki. This is a skill becoming more and more important in our global economy –  to work together with someone who you may not actually physically sit next to !

Don’t forget to collaborate on this blog too. Click below to add a comment if you have something to share.

Links:

Wikispaces – wiki I prefer to use in the classroom. It is free and student accounts can be made without email.

Wikispaces blog – blog for ideas and latest news from Wikispaces.

Getting Started with Wikispaces – guide to creating your own wiki with Wikispaces.

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About John Sengia

Instructional Technology Specialist for a school district in York County, PA. Former science teacher. Looking to help teachers use technology naturally with their teaching instead of trying to "add it in" .
This entry was posted in Web 2.0 tools. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Working with Wikis

  1. Jared Reck says:

    I’ve loved using the wiki as the launch-point for the candy company project, but I’d like to try to goose up the project a bit more–make the final product more professional-looking and authentic for the kids.

    Looking back, the project started as a fun extension activity to Roald Dahl’s childhood memoirs, Boy, that I used to read with 7th graders. Their companies were displayed on tri-fold boards or giant construction paper, loaded with glue, cut-out letters, and–for the less ambitious–scribbly magic marker.

    From there, we graduated to the class wiki, with each student or group getting their own page within my class site. Final projects and presentations have vastly improved. (Here are a few past favorites: http://mrreck.wikispaces.com/KSK+Konfectionary; http://mrreck.wikispaces.com/Jolly+Jooty.) But not enough.

    So I’ve been looking into Weebly. With their education site (education.weebly.com) I can create up to forty student accounts for free, and they don’t need email to access them. I’m working on my own new candy company–I have one already on the wiki–as a model, so that they can see the layout for a multi-page, intuitive company site that isn’t just a vertical stack of nifty student-made accoutrements.

    Hopefully, they will look like actual company websites when they’re done.

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