Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ways of the Wiki in Education!

The wiki is fast becoming a popular tool for increasing the amount of collaborative work done by students and teachers. Students might use a wiki to collaborate on a group report, compile data or share the results of their research, while teachers might use a wiki to collaborate on the structure of a professional day or the curriculum design of a course.

Students need to be aware that because anyone can participate in the building of a wiki, not all the information is of equal quality and reliable. Wiki participants should cite their work and provide supporting evidence. According to my twelve year old apparently astute son, wiki users should cross-reference their information using a variety of credible sources. Apparently his teachers have emphasized the need for evaluating information on wikis!

The following is a list of potential projects that students could generate on a wiki:

  • a wiki reference guide
  • a wiki directory of helpful websites
  • a letter or statement on behalf of the class
  • build a guide to correct punctuation
  • debate issues
  • outline options, make suggestions
  • collaborative research
  • edit a book, guide or manual
  • organize information for a book club or study group
  • collect and organize resources for an electronic portfolio
  • organize links to websites, and blogs
  • create a collaborative study guide
  • share resources as part of a virtual conference
  • create and share book reviews
  • library home page
  • integrate research into curriculum
  • summarize current events and discuss with others
  • virtual tour of a field trip site
  • discuss environmental issues
  • journal daily on a posted question
  • share and discuss original music

According to High Tech Learning, wikis are becoming a popular tool in learning because they involve high-level thinking and information skills. They allow students to participate in a project larger than themselves. Participants are able to learn from each other and expand their thinking about a topic by working as a team. The author goes on to say that wikis involve learners in asking more sophisticated questions related to their topic. Learners begin to assimilate new information and draw inferences. This ultimately leads to reflection and additional questions, more indepth analysis and understandings. These abstract connections are made more concrete through the building of a wiki. Information organization is also examined in this article. It is stated that wikis encourage learners to think about how information can be organized to maximize understanding. Organization might take the form of outlines, visual maps, questions, problems,or organizing material alphabetically, chronologically, hierarchically, and geographically.

Wikis are a flexible tool that utilize hyperlinks, categories, hierarchies, and organizational structure. They encourage collaboration and allow users to edit, add and modify information. They can be used in a variety of ways and are a welcomed technology tool in supporting the education of our students!


Val said...

Cindy: Great information and insights on Wiki's. We also chose peanut butter wiki for similar reasons. I really like your idea of posting a daily question where the kids can journal. I look forward to your discussion session.

Katie said...

Hi Cindy,
I love the list of topics that students could use for a wiki project. I struggled with thinking about how I would actually use it in my classroom and I had an "a-ha" moment when I read the list on your blog!

elizabeth said...

Cindy, What a great list of ways to use wikis! Thank you. I love the idea of summarizing and discussing current events on a wiki. This is something many intermediate classes do orally and a wiki could really enhance both summaries and discussions. I will pass this idea on to teachers in our school.

Jessica said...

Great list of potential student activities! Can I post it on

Ronda said...

I really connected with your statement that "wikis encourage learners to think about how information can be organized to maximize understanding." I was new to wikis, but now I am currently using several wikis for other projects. I have discovered that this has been a significant part of using wikis!