I'm new to using Wikis in the classroom setting (with wikispaces.com, but am hoping to have students create wiki pages, across class periods, updated and edited throughout the school day (and after). One problem I am running into is: When students click "Save" for their edits and updates, it states that another user has edited it, and it eliminates other students' work on that same page! Any thoughts for how to solve this problem? I would love for students in one class period to be able to edit different parts of the same page; is this impossible on a Wiki? If not, can someone explain how students can safely edit the same page and not lose their work?

Any thoughts, tips or hints would be most appreciated!

Thanks so much, in advance, for your help! This is amazing technology that will revolutionize how our students think and create!


Steve Guditus

Tags: help, losing, on, saving, student, use, wiki, wikispaces, work

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John, thanks for sharing a benefit of using PBWiki... I am using Wikispaces and would love to see that feature.
There are plenty of ways to get things to run more smoothly, but it will take some effort on your part - at least initially. If you assign partners/groups to edit, then it will cut down on the amount of people logging in and trying to edit at one time. If each student has their own individual login, they can rotate the login & post responsibilities so everyone gets a chance to post/edit content. If you have multiple people editing one page during one class period, maybe assign people a time frame to post/edit content and when their time is up, hit save and they can go back later and add more if needed. While someone is posting their content, others could be doing their work/research preparing for their turn at putting their content on the site. I've also started a wiki through wikispaces (http://vanguardcomputers.wikispaces.com) and we're starting a project now with PC industry innovators. Some people have multiple students assigned to them and thus will have multiple students from across different class periods, so I'll be going through something very similar soon.

Sean Hanson
The Vanguard School
Paoli, PA
I have run into this problem as well. My possible remedies (but not solutions):

Having students work on content in a separate program (like Word), only to cut/paste when finished.
Building in more subpages to the wiki to increase the number of pages, and therefore number of active users.
Assigning students in one class to different areas of the wiki
Having students wait patiently (yeah right) until the other group is done editing.

I would love to hear any other ideas/remedies, or other wiki sites that would circumvent this problem.
Hi Steve,
I agree with you about collaborative writing having a significant effect on how we do school.

I think you can modify the technique explained here to solve your multiple editors problem. The basic idea is that you let groups work on separate wikispace pages and then combine these pages using some wikispace magic. I use this technique in my college class regularly.

Let me know if you have questions.

Great question. Thanks for the great ideas. I despise that problem!
Besides using sub-pages or creating specialty wiki pages for a particular assignment (all of which I have done); I have adopted one of my student's hats (which was worn to school in "error") as the class marker. If it is up on the monitor then no one else can try editing until it comes down. It has worked relatively well. In the future I will be purchasing sets of markers so one students are working with groups they just need to look for their "marker" before they begin editing - this will allow several groups to work at one time on different pages.
A couple of comments to add:

1) We (Wikispaces) are actually rolling out an upgrade to our concurrent editing system shortly that will make more edits merge rather than cause overwrites so keep an eye on http://www.wikispaces.com/changes for that change

2) You can see a full description of how our concurrent editing system is supposed to work here: http://blog.wikispaces.com/2007/06/automatic-merging.html

3) I do think that some of the "think about the process rather than relying on the tool" comments are useful and a smart approach in any case.

for our teachers who want to use a wiki, i have them use a google doc as the wiki editor... then, if they want the wiki look & feel, toc, etc., they can publish the doc as a web page and embed it in a google site...the google site would have a page link to the wiki topic in the menu...then, on the page, there should be a link to the google doc for editing at the top and below that the embedded published doc...

...when implementing a wiki, you absolutely cannot have a kid attempt to edit the page and get rejected... kids and their parents won't accept it and it just gives them a great excuse for not buying in...also, kids should be able to edit the wiki whenever they want, thus no designated edit times...

...also, teachers shouldn't have to build so many wiki pages to get the workaround to accommodate multiple editors...

...a google doc allows approx. 15-20 concurrent editors (which most likely will never happen) and the doc auto-saves every few seconds...still, kids should mark their spots of entry because if 2 kids coincidentally click the same insertion point and begin typing, whoever clicked second will lose their edits...
Google Docs can erase work also if you have multiple people working on a document at the same time. My 8th graders have been using it to collaborate on scripts they are writing and get "there's been a conflict and your edits have been deleted" all the time and there are only 3 of them editing one document at a time.
right, that happens because the kids are typing on the same line at the same time...try having the kids mark their spots in the document first (take different lines), then contribute, then one kid can format the document and combine contributions



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