For the past several days I've been preparing to introduce my classes to a wiki project involving a novella we'll be reading. I was planning on using Moodle because 1) we have it, 2) it allows me to set up the exact same wiki for 2 different groups, i.e. sections. Each group can view the other groups' wiki but only edit their own. This was ideal until.....

One of our tech coaches told me this morning not to use the Moodle wiki since it is quirky and has many bugs. I've already noticed a few such as not showing the most current version of page and formatting styles not sticking.

Now I need help. There are lots of wikis available for educators. Do you know which ones would allow me to have the same wiki pages for 2 classes, but set them up so that each class can only edit their own wiki? Or do I need to open accounts with 2 different wiki sites? I also need wikis that are not normally blocked by school filters. Any suggestions????

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Hi Julie,

Sorry to hear you've reached a snag. I have a few questions that will help me understand what you're planning.

What level of classes are you teaching?

When you say that you want each class to have an identical set of pages, what do you envision on these pages? For example, are these information pages, instructions, pages that students will fill in with information, or pages that contain links to your students' pages?

I teach at the college level, and I use a single wikspace for all my classes. Each class has its own link in the sidebar to its own "home page" within the wiki. One thing I like about this approach is that the pages created by students in one class can serve as resources for students in another class.

As far as wiki choices, I have read others' positive reports about education sites in pbwiki, editme, wetpaint, google sites, and my own favorite, wikispaces.

Jay
Thanks for asking. This project is for 2nd year high school German. The categories for this wiki project are:
1) vocabulary, 2) the 2 main characters, 3) the other characters, 4) chapter review, 5) study questions per chapter, 6) locations, and 7) customs and products (this is one of our standards).

I'm going to allow the students to choose their own groups of 3 or 4 students and select which category in the wiki they want to work on. That group will then be held responsible for that category. I know my students and I think giving them a chunk of the wiki will help them focus better and actually do more in the wiki than allowing them cart blanche in the entire wiki.

My goal for having students work on this wiki is not just to put the content online for others to see, but to actually learn how to go into depth concerning an aspect of the book, how to develop wiki pages, how to add hyperlinks, how to reference outside material with the digital world AND to actually produce content in German appropriate for their level. Unfortunately, the book only contains 6 chapters of about 5 pages each with a lot of repetition. There isn't enough there for both sections to contribute to one wiki. That's why I want two wikis. I also don't want a student in period 1 to be able to edit anything in period 3's wiki. I don't mind if they look, but I don't want them touch.

I hope this explanation helped more than it did to muddy the waters.
Thanks for explaining more about your students and your goals.

I agree with your idea of breaking the work up into chunks and giving the chunks to student groups. I have some suggestions that might be worth thinking about.

Do you consider the contributions students will make in the various sections to be comparable? Section one is vocabulary and section seven is about customs and products. I would think that the later section would have more opportunity for students to feel like they are making a unique contribution, but this depends your expectations for each section. What do you envision the product looking like for each section?

My experience with this type of project is that it is easier to engage the students if they feel like they are making a valued contribution to an authentic product (preferably one that was "bigger" than they could do alone). . If your expectations for each section provide this opportunity, then I think your project will be a winner.

I have two variations on your original idea that might also meet your needs, but may not:

a. Why not have students brainstorm several subtopics for each of your sections and then require each group to take on several of these subsections? Once the subsections were identified, each group could work on several different (smaller) pieces at once, and require each group to apply some of their thinking to each section. Dividing up the work this way could eliminate having two classes producing parallel but isolated products, which seems less authentic to me.

b. Another approach would be to find another (similar) book and have each class work on a different book. At the end of the project, each class could present their work somehow in addition to it being in the wiki.

Thanks for asking a good question that helped me think about the next steps for my own class wiki. Let us know what you're thinking.

Jay
Jay,
I must have missed your lengthy response earlier. I like your idea of asking the kids how to subdivide the topics. They might not have a clue, but I could have period 1 due chapters 1, 3 and 5 and have period 3 do chapters 2, 4, and 6. I agree with you that having one product will seem more authentic.

Reading 2 different books is not an option since I don't have another book that is comparable for their skill level at this point.

Thanks for thinking this through for me. I see more clarity with this project now than I did before.
Sorry for the lengthy post. The comments about students producing text-heavy pages are also important to keep in mind. To break that pattern, I bet that you could encourage students to include (cited) photos and videos to make their pages more creative and readable.

You could have a poll at the end to determine most colorful, best use of video, best overall page, etc. by using a google form. The prizes could simply be 'blue ribbon" graphics inserted into the winning pages. I do this in my class, so let me know if you need some hints.

Jay
Good idea. We often vote on things in my class and the prize is a piece of German chocolate. It's a prize the students love. If they know ahead of time that they could win some German chocolate, I know they'll work harder at making their pages more attractive. Thanks for the suggestion.

One of my sub goals with this assignment is for them to find royalty free or CC pictures instead of grabbing just any picture from Google images. Now that you have me thinking of prizes, one of our categories at the "Wiki Academy Awards" will probably be best picture to depict the action in the scene.

Thanks for the suggestions and for getting my brain going to think of ways to make this (more) enjoyable to the kids while producing better results and learning a few things along the way. And, no need to apologize for the lengthy post. It was good. I don't know how I missed it the first time.
Great to hear that wikispaces is ad-free. I was concerned about this. I'll check out the main wiki sites tomorrow at school to see which ones are not blocked. I'll also see if our tech director has any issues with these sites.
If you are wanting a threaded discussion Moodle does that well. Let me know if you want to know more. We've done 5 wikis using Wikispaces, they have spaces for teachers without ads which is a good thing--wikis, IMHO, are ugly which a bad thing.
I'm also planning on having threaded discussions in Moodle, but I want my kids to "create" something in addition to answering questions and responding their classmates' ideas. Why do you think wikis are ugly and/or a bad thing? I have only one wiki experience and it was a positive learning experience for some of the students and caused no harm to others. :-)
Julie, Let me refrain---the wikis we did were ugly. I do have to say that pbwiki or wetpaint may have a better looking wiki, I haven't used them. I do think wikis work well for collaborative projects.

You can see our wikis here (scroll to bottom of list), every wiki (w/ wikispaces) I have ever seen looks exactly the same. WAY too many words!! Here's two contrasting examples-- This is a wiki we did comparing a book called The Wright 3 with the life of Frank Lloyd Wright--it was my first and favorite wiki, the kids loved it but it is all WORDS! Now here is a project we've done recently called Titanic in the Classroom. I just think the Titanic Project showcases the content and student work in a clearer more attractive way. Maybe I'm old school.

My favorite part of the wiki is the linking of student work to primary sources or the work of other students.

Let me know if you want to see our Moodle book discussions--I've also written about what I really thought of book discussions here at CR 2.0. Let me know if you want to know how I really feel! haha!
Nancy, your Titanic wiki is wonderful. It must have been exciting for your students to meet a Titanic collector and hear her stories. Your first wiki for "The Wright 3" is what my wiki will end up looking like, unless the kids surprise me with something more creative. When I get a chance I'll look up your messages on book discussions. If I have any questions, I'll let you know.

Thanks for the input. I really do appreciate it. I also don't mind if you give me your opinions. :-)
Julie, The Titantic in the Classroom curriculum is actually a website which I designed and serve, very Web 1.0!! Here is the discussion and my "honest" opinion about my experience with online book discussions. Let me know if you need anything else.

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