What is a Wiki (Directions for the Assignment is found at the bottom)

One of the most exciting Read/Write Web technologies that is available for educator use includes wikis. Many educators are not familiar with wikis and lack a clear understanding of how they work. Wikis allow people to collaboratively edit and work on a series of web pages. Perhaps, one of the best examples is the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
A wiki is a special Web site that allows users to learn and modify content. Wikis are good for collaboration - a way for a group to work on a common document in a common location.
A Wiki is a composition and discussion medium that's a good tool for collaboration across a network. The word wiki is Hawaiian for quick. Wikis are usually used for sharing reflections and ideas.
You can find thousands of education wikis online, but a short list of educational wikis and what you can do with them are at http://mguhlin.wikispaces.com/wikiwiki In the meantime, a roundup of wikis you can quickly create using free, web-based services include the following:

Contrary to popular opinion Wikis can be very controlled. A teacher can indicate whether the Wiki will be completely open for reading and writing, open only for reading and to an invited few for editing, or completely closed. If a Wiki is closed you will not even see it online. Many people use this sort of Wiki for a specific limited project among a certain group of people. It is not something that would be of interest to others, so there is no reason to post it to the world.

1. How do wikis work?
Generally, a user begins a wiki on a particular topic and invites others to participate in creating content using an interface that's similar to basic word processing software. Because new content is continually being added by contributors, wikis are considered fluid works in progress (changes are tracked as "page history," so it's possible to see the development of the wiki over time). In addition, wikis typically include forums that let users discuss the content they're creating.

2. What are the educational benefits of wikis?
Wikis are extremely flexible tools that have many classroom, professional development, and administrative uses.
Classroom. Students can use wikis as platforms for collaborative problem solving; group laboratory reports; "WebEssays" (essays that combine images, text, and hyperlinks); classroom writing projects; and the creation of a class "textbook." Basically, wikis can be used to support any type of collaborative student project.
Professional Development. Wikis are handy tools for planning workshops or conferences. Trainers can post documents and other resources at the wiki prior to the workshop and have participants create and post their own notes during the event. Later, participants can return to the wiki to further reflect on what they've learned.

3. Are they free?
Most Web-based wiki tools are free or offer a free version of their product that includes basic features. However, "free" wikis typically contain advertising such as Google AdWords. Teachers wanting to use a free wiki solution should be aware of district policies concerning ads and school-related uses of the Web.

4. What wiki tools are available?
There are a variety of wiki tools. Some are hosted online; others are available as server-based open source software. For a comprehensive comparison of more than 50 types of wiki platforms, visit WikiMatrix. Additionally, there are wiki solutions available for learning management systems like Blackboard and Moodle. What follows is a sampling of tools schools might want to consider.
**PBwiki**: This site says creating a wiki is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich, features an attractive design, an easy-to-use interface, RSS feeds, and the option to password-protect content. PBWiki supports itself through Google AdWords. More robust features such as advanced permissions are available for a monthly fee ($5, $10, or $25 per-month options).
**Wikispaces**: Wikispaces is an outstanding tool that's free for K-12 educators, and more important, it's free of advertising. The education-specific pages are private so only space members can edit them. With its easy editing interface, Wikispaces is a good choice for teachers getting started with wikis.
**EditMe**: This is a full-feature wiki interface with multiple levels of authoring control and viewing (such as public view, public edit, administrative edit, and more) through password protection. The advertising-free wiki pages offer easy editing through a WYSIWYG interface. EditMe's cost-per-month starts at $4.95.
**WetPaint**: A new player in the wiki hosting environment, WetPaint offers a simple editing interface, password protection for registered users, RSS feeds for content distribution, and a unique moderator option that lets individual contributors monitor wiki content and user behavior. WetPaint's free wiki pages contain Google AdWords.
**MediaWiki**: MediaWiki is a free server-based wiki tool. Because it's hosted on a school's internal server, no ads are present. Although its page-editing tools are somewhat challenging to learn, MediaWiki offers a complete solution for schools to create a wiki environment tailored to their needs.

5. How much support is required to maintain a wiki?
Web-hosted wikis like PBWiki and Wikispaces are easy to construct, use, and maintain. In fact, a teacher with basic technology skills can begin using wikis relatively quickly. Another benefit of going with the hosted option is that all interface support is handled by the wiki provider so there's minimal technical support required. In contrast, open-source solutions such as MediaWiki demand more robust support and programming knowledge. Installation is typically handled by a district's technology department.

6. What are potential concerns about using wikis?
Wiki pages have the potential to be very useful for educators. However, their strengths can also be limitations. Because they can be edited by anyone, wikis are subject to vandals—individuals posting inappropriate content that distracts from the purpose of the wiki page. To address this issue, most wikis offer a "notify" feature that automatically notifies wiki monitors/administrators of any changes. Monitors can then delete irrelevant or inappropriate content. In addition, publicly-accessible wikis are vulnerable to spam. One solution to this problem is to password-protect your wiki pages.
As for wikis in the classroom, there's still the age-old issue of one student doing all the work on a collaborative project. Teachers should closely watch changes to the wiki (through the wiki history feature) to get a clear understanding of student contributions.

Watch this video about Wikis


Ideas in using Wikis in the classroom


Tips
Variouse Wikis
  • WikiNews - a collaborative newspaper.
  • Wikipedia- a collaborative encyclopedia.
  • Wiktionary- a collaborative dictionary.
  • Wikispecies- a collaborative research project on the open directory of different species.
  • WikiBooks- free open content textbooks, manuals, and other texts.
  • WikiQuotes - where you can find most any quote or add a quote.
Check out the New Lesson Plans for Wikis

You can create an interactive Wiki* for students to contribute their ideas and reflections during a keynote presentation, lecture or discussion. The benefit of using a Wiki for this is that after the presentation, lecture or discussion students will be able to link back to the common Wiki and then out to read and even contribute to any of the note pages from other students who had taken notes. It becomes a common and collaborative notebook.
A terrific example of the way that Wikis can be used to connect and collaborate is The Flat Classroom Project.

A collection of ideas for US History Teachers is Teaching History with Technology . There are clear directions on how to participate for those who wish to contribute to or learn from this one.

A Wiki on the subject of child Internet safety is Internet Safety, Internet Safety 2 which was created for Technology & Learning's Tech Forum in Austin, Texas in October 2006!

A Wiki can also be an easy way to post web sites for your students to visit for a project, as is CodeBlue!, which deals with the human body.

Resources


Wide Open Spaces Wikis Ready or Not
It's a Wiki Wiki World
7 Things You Should Know About Wikis
Wikispaces for Educators
Wikispaces Projects
Wikijunior: Ancient Civilizations
U Tech Tips Wiki
Arts at the Edge: Collaborative School of Arts
21st Century Learning
Waterford School of Japanese


What to do:

1. Get into your groups, team leader create a wiki page name it Wikispaces Reading

2. Discuss what you learned from the Wikispace reading

3. On the teams wikispaces page explain what you learned from the reading. Reflect upon it.

4.On the teams wikispaces page explain how wikispaces could be used in a classroom setting

5. All members in the group should contribute to the teams wikispaces page. You do not have to meet as a group. Because it is a wiki page you can contribute anytime and anywhere.

6. Sometime before the next class session the group should view the teams wikispaces page and create a sentence summary based on what each team member explained they learned from the reading.

7. The teams wikis page should be laid out something like the following:
  • Each team member explains what they learned from the reading. So if you have 4 in your team I should see 4 different statements.
  • Based on how many members on the team there should be 3 or 4 ideas about how to use a wiki in the classroom.
  • Finally, someone could start the sentence summary based on the 3 or 4 different statements and each member can contribute to the sentence summary until you have a good sentence summary.