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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Wiki, Don't Lose That Number: The World of Wiki

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger

Several of us have chatted here before about wikis. As an educational-technology person who spends lots of time online, I can tell you it really does take a lot to win me over as far as new technology and its worthiness in education are concerned. Wikis, however, have done just that.

What I like best about wikis is that the technology itself isn't earth shattering, it's just incredibly easy to use as well and serves some good purposes for teachers. The use of wikis ranges from employing low-level communications tools to creating enriched, collaborative multimedia projects.

We've chatted about Wikipedia, the grandmamma of Wikis, before, but have you visited it recently? Have your students been editing wiki pages to help enrich the knowledge of all of us? (What a fun way to let our MySpacers publish in an educational way!) And if you haven't visited WikiQuote, Wiktionary, and Wikinews, be sure to check them out.

Below are a few low-level ideas to help you get your feet wet if you're new to the world of wikis. These are by no means examples of technology integration of the highest form. They're simply ways to play around that don't take much setup time:

  • Have students use a wiki space to plan the details of a field trip to make it as educationally fulfilling as possible.
  • Writing a grant? Throw out a brainstorming page for the school community to help edit.
  • Let students manage an Earth Day project?tasks, goals, responsibilities, and so on. Be sure to alert the community so anyone can join in.
  • Collaborate on an international unit, or even a spring e-pal exchange using a themed wiki.
  • Do something personal?plan a vacation agenda with links, and enable access for friends you'll visit along the way so they, too, can edit your schedule.

Here are a few more resources:

  • There are lots of free wiki spaces available, and a great matrix that compares them, at WikiMatrix.
  • I worked with Web 2.0 in schools in Mobile, Alabama, recently; Mobile's George Hall Elementary School has a whole Wiki project going on.
  • I've been working with teachers from all over using a wiki page I put together at Learners 2.0.

If you're already a wiki user, please share your favorite things you're doing with wikis.

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger
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