Sunday, December 9, 2007

Using Wikis in the Classroom

Have you started using wikis yet? For yourself? For your students? This week’s Tech Tip is an introduction to the use of wikis in the classroom. Next week we will go into more detail.

For Teachers New to Wikis

This article--by Joe Moxley,
MC Morgan, Matt Barton, and Donna Hanak--
is a good introduction to using wikis in the classroom. It begins with a description of what a wiki is and of some of its characteristics. Suggestions for using wikis with students are shared. The article concludes with a discussion of some obstacles that may show up.

Users may read and also write on web pages called wikis. You do not need to know HTML or use other software to create web pages when you have access to a wiki. You can determine which individuals have the rights to read a wiki and who has the rights to write to a wiki. They provide opportunities for collaborative work, with each new edit replacing the old, but with a history of edits automatically maintained. Having the chance to view previous edits is useful whether you are a single individual working with a wiki or if you and a group are working together on a project.

Students can use wikis to write, to debate, to share resources, to maintain a journal, to collaborate, to support projects. Some classroom procedures you may want to implement are having students sign the pages they write or edit, assigning roles such as one student having the responsibility to watch over the wiki pages so there are no bad edits.

Students may be hesitant about writing in public. And it may take a while for them to become accustomed to editing, both their editing others’ work and others’ editing their work. Because wikis are designed for writing, some other features may not be as flexible as users might like.

Wikis in Education: An Interview with Victoria Davis and Adam Frey

Steve Hargadon of hosts this very interesting interview (August 24, 2006) with teacher Victoria Davis and Adam Frey of Wikispaces in which they talk about using wikis in the classroom. Davis shares how she and her students use wikis and the feedback she receives from her students. Both interviewees discuss the role of wikis now and in the future. The interview concludes with questions from the audience and answers from Davis and Frey.

Two wiki providers that provide free wikis for K12 educators are PBwiki and Wikispaces. I used Wikispaces with my class this semester and I plan to use PBwiki next semester. Then I will compare the two to determine which best serves the needs of my students and myself. Next week I will share about Wikispaces and my class’ experience with it this semester.

Wiki Poster by Alan Levine at
CC license at
Attribution: Some rights reserved.


Larry Ferlazzo said...

Nice post.

The link to the article isn't working right now, though.

Jo Schiffbauer said...

Thanks, Larry. And thanks for the heads-up about the link. While I was checking that link, I added some other links that I think readers might want to check out. Jo

Silvia said...

Thank you Jo for this post. It has been inspiring and it motivated me to search the web. I found the page of Seattle Pacific University where people can have access to the PowerPoint presentation of the poster you have included.
Thanks again,

Silvia said...

The link to the "Seattle Pacific University" Wiki presentation is:

Jo Schiffbauer said...

Thanks, Silvia, for sharing that site. I found the case study interesting, too. Jo