Wikis are gaining increasing popularity as a collaboration and learning tool in education, from primary schools upwards. If you’ve never thought of using one, why not try it out - it’s much easier than you might think!
What is a wiki?
The word “wiki” stands for “What I Know Is.” In simple terms, it’s a collaborative website where anyone can contribute. Individual contributors can be given permission to read, write or edit pages. As well as text, each page can include elements such as video, images, links, and other file types, making a wiki a powerful multimedia tool for the classroom.
Do I need to know coding?
Once a wiki is set up, a user can edit a page by clicking the ‘Edit page’ button. You can then enter content just like in a word processor, and save when you’re done. You don’t need to add other contributors if you don’t want to; some teachers use wikis to create a website for their class, where they are the only editor. You don’t need to know coding or web development - it really is that straightforward!
How could I use a wiki in my classroom?
If you think of a wiki as a collaborative website, it is really up to you how you use it. It can have as many pages or sections as you wish, and you can control who has access to different sections. For example, you can work with other teachers on lesson activities, set up small group assignments for students, or invite parents to view project work or resources. Here are a few examples of wikis in practice:
- Syllabus outline (including lists of assignments and hand-in dates)
- Class/lecture notes (can be hidden or revealed as required)
- Share resources (images, files and videos, and links to external resources)
- Collaborative projects (including discussion and problem solving)
- Reflective diaries or blogs (can be public or private)
- Knowledge sharing (e.g. share lesson plans/activities between teachers)
- News and announcements (e.g. latest projects - a good way to involve parents)
What if contributors make mistakes? Can people cheat?
A wiki is a living site, and as such reflects whatever is put into it. As a collaborative tool, mistakes are often corrected by others, and any differences in opinion can be discussed and resolved as they would in any team environment. Every contributor is required to log in, so nobody can hide behind anonymous comments, and you can always tell how much each person has contributed. Since every user has their own unique identity, the date, content and author of every change made to the wiki can be identified. Unwanted changes can be rolled back, but no edit is ever lost from the wiki history.
Setting up a wiki
If you think a wiki could be a good solution for your class, there are a number of free tools you can try. Make sure you choose the Education option when registering, as you don’t want advertisements popping up in your class wiki! Two of the most popular platforms are PBWorks and Wikispaces.
If you decide to set up a wiki, or you already use one, we’d love to hear about it!