What Can You Do with a Wiki?

When I gave my presentation about using blogs and wikis, one astute question a colleague asked was “why?” Why indeed? I don’t think educators should use wikis because it’s trendy. Educators have rightly been accused of dumping good educational practices in favor of trends before. Why should educators add one more thing to the already-full curriculum and take the time to learn and teach their students the technology?

Many answers probably exist to that question, but my reason for using wikis is that it enables students to connect with the world through their work. It makes classrooms flat and enables students across the world or across the country to work together on projects. When we English teachers have taught the writing process in the past, we have given lip service to the final step: publication. We tried to convince our students and ourselves that posting work on a bulletin board or hallway wall, or even in a literary magazine distributed to the students at school was publishing. Was it? I suppose in a narrow fashion, it was and is. But we have the technology to do so much more. Wikis and blogs enable students to truly complete that final step in the writing process and publish their work.

Once you are sold on the idea of using wikis, and it’s possible many of you aren’t there yet, the next question you might ask is what you can do with a wiki. What can you publish? Let me start with some examples of things my own students have done with wikis:

Keep in mind much of this was created because I was experimenting. My students were happy to follow along and see where it went. What you can do with a wiki is limited only by your imagination. Some ideas, admittedly oriented toward English, as that’s what I teach:

  • Create a literature circle where students can discuss a book they’re reading.
  • Book reports can go to a whole new level.
  • Online book discussions.
  • Writing portfolios.
  • Sharing links and information.
  • Reading journals.

If you know of a really cool wiki used for educational purposes, please share in the comments.

[tags]wikis, education[/tags]

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13 thoughts on “What Can You Do with a Wiki?

  1. Hi Dana,

    We (tenth grade English Speakers class at Neveh Channah High School) are using a wiki to carry on a collaborative project with students of Mrs. Sharon Peters at Lower Canada College in Montreal.

    We have been studying each others literature, writing about Jerusalem and Montreal and now are beginning to discuss each others work and cultures.

    The wikis (ours – address above and LCC's – http://montreal.wikispaces.com/)
    are serving as an environment to show assignments, post videos, publish research and discuss the research and each others culture (in the discussion area).

    The project is still under way and hopefully will continue to develop.

    This project is part of a Project sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Education:
    http://cms.education.gov.il/EducationCMS/Units/Ip

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  3. I love this idea and am interested in trying it my classroom. Does anyone have a resource that I can go to in order to learn how to set one up? I am so new to this "world" that any information can help.

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  5. My Honors British Lit students (11th-12th grade) recently constructed this wiki guide to the British Romantic era: http://britishromanticism.wikispaces.com …if A.M. Strzyz is still checking these comments, I also have some information for teachers outlining my experience on the wiki.

    Next year, I'm hoping to get my students engaged in a long-distance collaborative project with another class – I really see that as the ultimate utilization of wiki technology, at least at this point.

  6. A.M. – I've been to your Great Expectations wiki; looks like it will be a valuable study aid resource once it's done! Once you've got some more content up, I'd advertise and link it as many places as you can (Wikispaces has a great directory of educational wikis to which you can add yours). Once people start clicking thru, Google will "take notice", and eventually your students' wiki will start showing up in Google searches for "great expectations" and related terms.

    Best of luck!

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