What is a Wiki?

In the latest post by Sue Waters in the edublogger, Sue has asked for feedback from the readers regarding wikis.  Here are her questions and below them is my response.

  1. How do you explain to people what a wiki is?
  2. Reasons why you use wikis
  3. How you use a wiki for professional learning or with your students?
  4. Examples of your favourite wikis
  5. Questions you always wanted answered about wikis

A wiki in simple terms is a web page that can be edited easily by one person or by many. It can be used as for a collection of resources, but its most powerful use is for collaborative purposes, where members can work in virtual teams to achieve a site full of rich material that can include text, links, images, video, podcasts and other multimedia etc.

My first use of wikis was to keep all the online resources that I have found in one easily accessbile website. However, since then I have used wikis with global staff and students. The flatclassroom projects use wikis for the collection of materials from the virtual global student teams. The netgened project was  a fabulous project that has just finished.

The flatclassroom and digiteen projects are work in progress at the moment and their wikis can be seen from the preceeding links.  Look at this  example of a great student developed wiki page for the netgened project.

Our grade 3-7 students are involved in the es1001tales es1001tales.wikispaces.com and the ms1001tales where students are grouped together with two other schools from two other countries. They each write astory, place it on the shared wiki and their group members read it, provide feedback and positive ideas for improvement. After two more drafts their work is complete, images are added etc. In 2008, my year 9/10 students answered questions for Susie Corbett’s USA students so that they could accurately complete travel posters for Australia. Here is her final comments on the wiki, once the project was completed:-

“Thanks to all you people who contributed to this wiki, especially you Aussies, you are AWESOME! We learnt much about you and your country. Collaborative tools such as  wikis offer a way to travel and communicate beyond backyards without even leaving the classroom. This was a whole lot more fun than researching with an encyclopedia!”

Grade 4 and 5 added a podcast to globalexplorers

My year 8 students are the sounding board for a project on Africa  I am also starting wikis for each of my subject areas as resource collections initially. I love the work that Vicki Davis does with eportfolios and her students. I tend to use blogs as e-portfolis, but Vicki uses wikis.My students have had to learn how to tag, add discussions, write in the history tab etc. Wiki wars have occurred and it has been a steep learning curve.

I would love to know how to add RSS feeds from delicious and diigo.

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5 responses to “What is a Wiki?

  1. Hi Anne, thanks for both writing the comment and the post. I was so hoping you had time to share your thoughts since you use them a lot.

    Can you tell me with the global projects do you have one student working with a different student in another country or do your students work in teams on the same project? Also how do you manage the issue of students editing the same pages at the same time — do you have trouble losing the information?

    With the RSS feed I left a comment on my post in response to your comment to say I use Google Gadgets. Do you want me to share the links to the ones I use?

    Wikis were an important part of my online journey before blogging. You might be interested in knowing that I interviewed Adam Frey from Wikispaces when I was a podcaster back in early 2007. Which was followed up with a video on Getting more out of using Wikis

  2. @suewaters
    With the global projects and how students work with each other – When working with Susie Corbett, USA and answering their questions on Australia, my students chose two other students to work with and answer questions. With the Onafrica wiki, my students will all choose one of the 5 countries, and then as a small group from my school will work with those students who are working the individual countries. So, I have allowed the choice there, which has worked so far. However, I love the notion of students working on a one to one basis but sometimes the numbers do not gel! That is my goal this year to work on one to one basis with real time chat, videoconferencing and maybe wikis!
    The flatclassroom projects are far more organized. A grid is set up in google sheets and shared with participating staff. All students are then placed on the grid in teams of four. Certain conditions are made in that no two students from any one school can be in the same team etc. We try and spread across countries so that there is real culture conversations going on. We use the wikis for bringing the project together and as our final product (as you state above) The nings are used for socialising, personal networking, blogging and for students and staff to join in the forum discussions. The best ones were whenthe author, Don Tapscott of “Grown Up Digital” fame, would ask questions. Some of the answers from students were amazing.
    We have hit many interesting problems once large numbers of students use the wikis. Wiki wars occur when two or more students edit at the same time. So many students lost their additions, and huge amounts of work would disappear over night. We continue to teach and work through with the students on that issue and would have to go back in the history tab to fix it up. That is why they are encouraged to use the discussion tab and the history window so that we can work through it all. The kids get so annoyed when their work disappears. And this became an area of conflict at times.
    Some students from other countries/schools will delete work that they dont think is important when a discussion should take place first as to the value of the work, the need to collaborate etc. We have drawn up a ‘wiki netiquette’ page. Staff meet once a week in elluminate and keep in touch via google groups, so discussion would often take place re wiki wars and we would just work through them with our students.
    Some of my students just loved fixing up the wiki pages and would happily go back and restore the lost work. I found that rather fascinating that they enjoyed such a challenge. In the netgened project, we had project managers and assistant project managers as well. This helped keep students on task etc.
    I also meant to say the first wiki I worked on was with Chrissy from NZ, who is now in Bangkok. Chrissy skyped me and walked me through the wiki and I wish that we would have had more time back in those days to collaborate more. But, we set up an introductions page, which had a table inserted. Each student introduced themselves by embedding their voki in a cell of the table. The students loved to hear the accents and content of their introductions. See http://anzaconnection.wikispaces.com/Introductions

  3. Pingback: Go Wild With Wikis: Part I | Edublogs Live

  4. Pingback: Go Wild With Wikis: Part II | Edublogs Live

  5. Pingback: Go Wild With Wikis: Part III | Edublogs Live

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