So, this is the first time I've been involved with Ning or any kind of social network. Normally, I lurk. Big time lurk. I have a pretty good list of Google Reader feeds and my own diet of info that I hoover semi-omnivorously (Arts and Letters Daily, Will R, Metafilter, Bookslut, Mr. Verb, Presentation Zen etc.) But I'm not so much people...even people who aren't right there. Yet, teaching scary 16-year-olds...No problem.

Now, I have to talk to other real people and explain to them why they should use a wiki. My school is a fine school and we've recently went to a 1-to-1 laptop deal wherein all students can now play Dolphin Olympics 24/7. I love it but many of the teachers are not so much in love. The question is how can I help gently nudge them into trying something that sounds like a Maori term for boomerang when they don't so much want to be having laptops invading their rooms in the first place.

Here's what I have so far:

What is a Wiki?

A website that anyone you want can easily edit and add to. Wikis can be built for large groups of people to share information for a public audience or they can be small groups of people only sharing for each other. You control who can see the information and who can contribute. Examples: Wikipedia, Seattlewiki, Shorewiki, APEwiki.

What can you do with it?

Give info to students: assignments, background, slide shows, videos, class readings, links, class agenda

This is often the first level of use. It's a quick and dirty way of creating a webpage for students that can lead them through a specific lesson or offer materials for students who are absent. It's very easy to add info and pictures so that students get a multimedia look at whatever lesson you've got cooked up. It's also easy for big project assignments. Instead of having a single piece of paper that might get fed to the dog, the wikipage for the assignment can always be accessed and can be added to whenever you find anything new the students might need.

Collaborate with other teachers and share materials

Teacher sometimes don't play well with others (mine, mine) But the wiki offers an easy way to share assignments, links, lessons, readings, and other materials in a no-risk environment. You can create a secure wiki that will only be seen by teachers or you can have a wiki that students will have access to. Wikispaces even has a decent amount of space where you can upload Word docs, pics, and even movies to be stored there to be downloaded by students.

Give students a space to work together on problem, share stories, argue, or

This is usually a later level of use, but some of the magic of wikis is when they are used in collaboration. Imagine schools around the world working together: finding information, posting ideas and pictures, figuring out together how to solve problems. The wiki, in this way, has some of the greatest potential for moving beyond the traditional classroom dynamic of teacher-->student-->evaluation to one that exploits the power of the Internet to create networks of motivated learners from around the world.

Students can do everything from provide their fellow students with help on an upcoming test to brainstorming with Israeli students on World Problems. Students can create an online study guide for Kafka's Metamorphosis or trade stories about 1001 Arabian Nights.

Store your class materials for easy retrieval for future years

Instead of re-inventing the wheel. Teams can store entire packets and units on the wiki and spend future energies on tweaking them rather than building them up from scratch.

How can you get one?

Wikispaces for teachers is a good place to start. They give free wikis with plenty of space. They're easy to use and reliable.

PBwiki is also a strong contender.

Other Resources

What another teacher has to say about Wikis: Dana Huff

Examples of Educational Wikis


Or you could use a Whiteboard...

Any other ideas I should mention?

Views: 81

Comment by Reuven Werber on April 8, 2007 at 6:40am
Liked your wiki intro piece.
Funny you should mention a wiki project with an Israeli class.
We are working on one now:

We (tenth grade English Speakers class at Neveh Channah High School, Etzion Bloc, Israel) 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 - and LCC’s -
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:
Comment by SparklingDrift on April 8, 2007 at 12:42pm
Funny you should say that. I think I was unconsciously influenced into that example by a joint project between theses two schools that tried a cross-cultural family history wiki ( Thanks for your example. I'll happily include it on my list.
Comment by MP Bumsted on April 8, 2007 at 9:49pm
I'll put a reference on the edublogs forum about this.
Wiki Blog Collaboration - — why, when, how
Comment by gordon brune on July 11, 2007 at 7:16am
Thanks for this. I have had the same thoughts but you nicely put them together. I'm about to "sell" wikis to a group of teachers and this will help.


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