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Wiki, Don't Lose That Number: The World of Wiki

| Chris O'Neal

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.

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The Power of Wikis

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I first introduced my kids to the power of wikis in my newspaper class. They love the creativity that a wiki offers them and to also realize the potential of other people reading their work. Our newspaper wiki can be found at http://huskypawper.wetpaint.com. I also started two other wikis with my students. Currently they are working on the topic of cyberbullying (http://stopcyberbullies.wikispaces.com) and are conducting interviews of students and teachers about 5 areas of cyberbullying. These interviews will be loaded to the wiki and it should be complete by the end of May. The last and most exciting wiki we are currently working on involves the history of our school system. My students are conducting interviews of past graduates using digital recorders. Some are getting interviews from people who graduated in the 1930's and 1940's. Wikis are a great resource for any oral history project and great way to share stories!! You can check out this work in progress at http://voicesfromtheschoolhouse.wikispaces.com. As you can see me and my students love to wiki!!! This should be completed by the end of May as well.

Technology Teacher


wikis without the advertising

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Wikispaces.com have a wiki that is advertising free for teachers. check out http://www.wikispaces.com/site/for/teachers.
As a school principal I also use private (user name and password needed) wikis for agendas and meeting minutes. This is fantastic as everyone has instant access to the minutes and knows what is coming in the agenda and can add to them if they need to. I then use the notification feature to let me know via email that a change has been made to the page.
Wikis are also a great place to organise school documentation, website addresses etc.
they are a fantastic tool, and along with blogs, my favourite Web2.0 tools for schools.
Cheers, Greg



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I use them all the time. Check out my 6th grade history wikis at http://www.librarybcds.com/HLLC_6thGradeLinks.html.

Kids love to publish!


Wiki use

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I am also of fan of wikis in Education. Here is a wiki we designed for Francophones in Canada.
Communities can share their information in order to make it possible for francophones to let everyone know they exist. ;-)
Students have been researching information on their community and posting what they have found on the wiki.
www.francopedie.ca It is French only but an interesting resource for schools where they teach French of French Immersion.


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Chris O'Neal Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger

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