Wiki Primer

  • Wikis are very similar to blogs, but they have some different features and may be better used for different types of assignments.
  • Wikis, like blogs, are websites, offering dynamic content (you can subscribe to them), as well as collaborate on content and control what and how it is being presented/published.
  • The GOOD NEWS is that most wikis now offer visual editors, which eliminates the need to learn wiki markup language. So, it’s just like typing into Word, for instance.
  • Wikis provide a history of all of the revisions. So, if you don’t want something changed that someone has changed, you just need to revert back to that one. It’s that simple.
  • Wikis can be public or private. You can control who can view/change a wiki page. Most wikis require people to be signed up for the wiki before they can edit it.
  • Wikis offer a “discussion” tab, where people can comment on/discuss possible changes before they are actually made on the page.
  • Wikis are flexible and can be customized like a blog, offering many templates and other features.
  • Wikis, like blogs, allow users to upload files and insert images, videos, podcasts, and other multimedia elements.

Free online wikis:

10 Reasons to use Wikis in the Classroom:

  1. Wikis can promote group collaboration, research, creating content, group thinking.
  2. Students could actually create a course using a wiki (that’s pretty radical, I know, but it might be a very interesting and useful project.)
  3. Wikis can be used instead of email, as students can be subscribed to them , receiving updated announcements and other content in their email inbox or feed reader. NO MORE EMAILS SENT TO STUDENTS!
  4. Wikis promote non-linear thinking and the need to create structure to thoughts and processes. Students explicitly experience and see these processes as they work with a wiki.
  5. Wikis can easily be changed and edited, with evolving thoughts and concepts displayed through the history feature.
  6. Wikis provide a public space for reading and writing.
  7. Wikis are authentic venues for writing, with everyone sharing in the construction and collaboration of ideas.
  8. Content grows throughout the process of a wiki. A class could end up with a complete resource site for their courssework, for instance.
  9. Wikis are becoming easier to use, with no need to learn any specialized markup language.
  10. Wikis are fun.

Helpful advice to those wanting to start using blogs & wikis in their teaching:

  • Allow students to practice with blogs and wikis. You can set up a wiki sandbox or simply a practice wiki at first for a student project. After they get the hang of it, they will take it from there.
  • If the content is sensitive, perhaps make the blog and/or wiki private. That may reassure some students. However, don’t discount the power of public reading and writing. That is where authenticity comes in.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn along with your students. This is probably the best way to learn technology.
  • If something doesn’t work, don’t stop experimenting. Again, learning with technology involves a bit of risk-taking, but problem-solving is a great by-product of this adventure.
  • Attend our upcoming “Faculty Mashup” in October (TBA) to hear about ways faculty members at Boise State are using these new technologies.

Additional Resources

Blogging basics (Technorati) l

GREAT VIDEO, A MUST WATCH: Wikis in Plain English (YouTube)

Wiki comparison

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