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For Teachers New to Wikis

Page history last edited by Henry T. Hill 2 years, 1 month ago

Back to Wikis


For Teachers New to Wikis (part of Writing Wiki)  allows users to contribute ideas and add your name to the

Contributors list.


What are wikis?

  • Wikis are free, online writing spaces. Wikis use simple formatting rules, so you don't need to understand HTML or an HTML authoring tools, such as Microsoft FrontPage or Dreamweaver to contribute.
  • For some, wikis convey a highly collaborative view of composing and creativity. People who contribute to a wiki need to understand that their words may be deleted and changed by others. Wiki authors do not claim ownership of a text.
  • When writers contribute to a public wiki, their work could potentially be read by millions of readers.
  • Wikis give focus to the last draft, yet wikis provide a history. Each time the text is changed, a new version is saved. Anyone can go back later and see previous versions. This allows teachers and students to see the writing process in action.
  • Wikis are generally published online, though desktop and gated wikis are possible. Permissions can be set to limit the readers and writers who participate.
  • Textual authority is dialogical. Revision is privileged in the wiki. Each new reader can suddenly become a writer. The draft that matters is the last draft. Power and authority are given to the community rather than an individual or official staff.
  • Wikis are designed specifically as a writing space. They are not a presentation space nor a course management system. Wikis make it possible - and necessary - for writers to continually build upon, revise, and edit an emerging text.

How can teachers use wikis to facilitate teaching, writing development, and learning?

  • Provide a space for free writing
  • Debate course topics, including assigned readings
  • Share resources such as annotated bibliographies, websites, effective writing samples, conferences, calls for manuscripts
  • Maintain a journal of work performed on group projects
  • Require students to collaborate on documents, such as an essay written by the entire class
  • Discuss curricular and instructional innovations
  • Encourage students to revise Wikipedia pages or take on new wikipedia assignments
  • Inspire students to write a Wikibook
  • Support service learning projects (i.e. use wikis to build a website about a challenge in their city)

Where can teachers find appropriate wiki writing spaces? 

How can teachers introduce wikis to students?

  • Introduce students to the rules for writing on wikis. Wikipedia , for example, does not allow for reporting original research. Instead Wikipedia seeks the goals of traditional encyclopedias, to present known knowledge.
  • Develop a system for recording the efforts and accomplishments of individuals. (You can accomplish this by having students sign the pages they author or contribute to.)
  • Talk with students about the conventions they will establish for co-authoring texts. At Wikipedia, for example, the authors' names are not listed on the articles. Instead, users need to select history to see who wrote what.
  • Almost every wiki has a StyleGuide: a guide to the writing customs and the culture of the wiki. Have students collaboratively write a StyleGuide for their wiki. Here's an example of a StyleGuide.
  • Ask students to play particular roles. One important role is the "Guard"--the person who watches the wiki pages and ensures that spam or bad edits are not entered, undermining the hard work of the wikiauthors.

What obstacles can teachers expect?

  • Wikis conflict with traditional assumptions about authorship and intellectual property.
  • Students are sometimes reluctant to contribute to wikis because they lack confidence in their writing, they worry about not receiving credit for contributions, or they do not like their ideas, words, contributions being revised or deleted without consent.
  • Some teachers and students are uncomfortable about the advantages and disadvantages of public writing.
  • Some technology averse students do not like having to learn how to use wikis and/or find even the relatively simple steps for editing or posting work daunting.
  • Because Wikis are not presentation software, use of visuals and design options are limited.
  • Although selecting "restore" to replace content that was inavertently deleted or intentionally hacked is easy, the editing process is nonetheless a hassle.

How can teachers get started?

  • If you are interested in using Writing Wiki, just visit WikiPlay. When you select edit, look in the right hand column for tips on formatting. Alternatively, visit the Flexwiki User Guide

I will try this out now!


Something Wiki This Way Comes--Or Not!"

Bo Leuf and Ward Cunningham <-- creator of wiki

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