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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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Comments (14)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

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

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

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.

Erin
Technology Teacher
Alabama

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This piece from EDUCAUSE called the 7 Things You Should Know About Wikis might prove interesting as well ...

ldtchr's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I started using a wikispace this year (lmaconnections.wikispaces.com)after reading a different posting on the spiral notebook :). I love it and it can really help in many areas:
* leveling the playing field of communication skills (i.e. low readers, writers, etc..)
* communication with parents: showing what we're doing in the classroom, positive feedback, involvement...
* the battle of the "lost" homework or assignment notebook for our more organizationally challenged individuals
* as I am one of those individuals, it helps me manage my stuff from home and school
* saves paper; sometimes we just post assignments rather than use paper
* provides a more real-world context
* provides an outlet for their varied strengths and talents

One of my students started a photo contest (with his own rules) and his friend, who is slightly anti-wiki is finding that he would like to understand how to upload docs so he can post his entries. This was a great way to defeat the "limited-time" monster that curriculum demands sometimes create :).

Tecnoteach's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The concept of the wiki enables multiple users to work colloboratively with no restrictions of time and place. I have used wikispaces with different year groups to enable them to continue projects outwith classroom and still be working together. The first wikispace we created was at http://radiohigh.wikispaces.com/ where different groups og children work on their group's wikipage to create a script for their radioshow at http://radiohigh-djs.blogspot.com/. The history aspect on the page enabled me to track their progression from initial ideas to final script. The discussion area also allowed me to give feedback and the chidren to discuss their scripts. The idea of building on this collaborative aspect led to the children's current project of creating wiki areas for the different projects that occur at various stages in the school - http://juniorschool.wikispaces.com/Projects. Another aspect of using the wikipages is to display children's work where it is static rather than moveable in a blog. At http://juniorschool.wikispaces.com/L6-xmas page works as a mechanism to display a story and sound in an innovative way.

Wikis are not just about allowing children in the same class, school to work together. It opens doors for collaborative work with others around the world. One class are currently working on creating a radio show with a school 400 miles away - http://northsouth.wikispaces.com/Show+1.

Wikis looks part of my makeup bag now with many new projects planned for the next session. If you want to read an article about how I use wikis please go to:
http://www.tes.co.uk/search/story/?story_id=2366537. Any questions please give me a shout.

macteech's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Since I work with 24 classes a week, from Kindergarten to fifth grade, I've been trying to find appropriate ways to bring wikis into the classroom. So far my fourth graders and fifth graders are working on personal narratives in their grade level wikispaces, which are kept private for the moment. The students have been learning how to constructively peer edit and use the discussion boards to explain their corrections and suggestions to one another. The kids are so amped about this that I find them logging in and editing all through the weekend. Each student has their own page.
My third graders are beginning to research endangered animals, and we've assigned each of our chosen animals to their own page. Several students across the grade will work collaboratively to create a comprehensive page about their animal and how it can be protected.
I'm hoping to use a wiki to create a school newspaper, but that's still in the planning stages.

Wikis are quickly becoming one of my favorite Web 2.0 tools -- free (which is a big consideration), user friendly and controllable.

Ron's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am currently pursuing my master's degree in education, and have been out of circle for some time now. I had no idea what a wiki was until this semester. After reading this blog and some of the comments, I realize how technology can aid in teaching and in learning. I also realize how much I need to learn before getting into the classroom.

kathie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am new to wikis but would like to try to start a school newspaper for our middle school utilizing a wiki. Anybody have any suggestions or ideas or models? Thanks.

 modernday-kitchen-cabinets 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

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.

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