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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Seamless Integration of Wikis into the Learning Environment: Part 12 of 12

Teaching with Wikis Samples and Resources

A Wiki can be thought of as a combination of a Web site and a Word document. At its simplest, it can be read just like any other web site, with no access privileges necessary, but its real power lies in the fact that groups can collaboratively work on the content of the site using nothing but a standard web browser. Beyond this ease of editing, the second powerful element of a wiki is its ability to keep track of the history of a document as it is revised. Since users come to one place to edit, the need to keep track of Word files and compile edits is eliminated. Each time a person makes changes to a wiki page, that revision of the content becomes the current version, and an older version is stored. Versions of the document can be compared side-by-side, and edits can be ‘rolled back’ if necessary.

The Wiki is gaining traction in education, as an ideal tool for the increasing amount of collaborative work done by both students and teachers. Students might use a wiki to collaborate on a group report, compile data or share the results of their research, while faculty might use the wiki to collaboratively author the structure and curriculum of a course, and the wiki can then serve as part of each person’s course web site”. (Steward Mader, (Using Wiki in Education)

Some Courses Using Wikis

  • BIOL 414/614: Eukaryotic Genetics And Molecular Biology Biology course at UMBC using a wiki as course web site. Here’s an assignment asking students to research a topic in current literature and present their analysis to a scientifically informed lay audience on a wiki page. Taught by Dr. Philip Farabaugh 
  • Blogs and Wikis – a course on blogs and wikis in the English Dept. at Bemidji State University 
  • Computer Management Courses – Associate professor, Gerald Kane of Boston College uses wikis to replace textbooks in his Computers in Management and Computer Information Systems courses.
  • Teaching Social Software with Social Software: A report Ulises Ali Mejias writes about a graduate course he taught at Teachers College, Columbia University, in which social software tools (blog, wiki, rss) were used to teach students how to use and critically evaluate social software.
  • English 15 Rhetoric and Composition one of three required core courses in Rhetoric at Penn State University uses a wiki for students to blog about their experiences during the class, develop ideas for their writing projects, and benefit from community input. There’s even a section where students can leave advice for the next group to take the class.
  • Rebuilding the Seventh – Nils Gore, a professor of architecture at the University of Kansas uses this wiki to coordinate a joint project with architecture students at Tulane University (LA), to help rebuild a New Orleans community center ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Through it, students use the wiki as a password protected place to share and edit documents. If someone in New Orleans needs an image, for instance, students in Kansas upload it to the wiki, where students from Tulane can view or edit it. And when Gore gets new students, he has them search the web for contextual background material to add to the site.
  • The Collaborative Writing Project – SUNY Geneseo. Administered by Paul Schacht, Department of English. He created this wiki in Fall 2005 to enable students in his classes to do various types of collaborative writing. In his section of Intd 105, Critical Writing and Reading, they studied the social history of Christmas in America. He put up the text of Clement Clark Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and asked students to “annotate” the poem by creating explanatory pages linked to key words and phrases in the poem.  In Spring 2006, his students in English 315, Victorian Literature, gave oral reports throughout the semester; students followed up their reports by posting entries to an Annotated Bibliography of Victorian Literature built by linking each citation in the bibliography to a page summarizing the article or essay cited.
  • Wikipedia school and university projects  – The projects “exists to provide guidance to educators who incorporate Wikipedia writing assignments into their classes. Post questions for experienced Wikipedia volunteers at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Classroom coordination. Wikipedia:school and university projects – instructions for teachers and lecturers and Wikipedia:School and university projects – instructions for students are useful resources. There is also a syllabus boilerplate that you may want to use.”

References and Resources


  • For Teachers New to Wikis (At the University of Southern Florida) – site provide summary of how wikis can be used in teaching and learning.
  • Using Wikis as Collaborative Writing Tools (At Texas A&M) – An instructor’s account of how she used wikis in her courses.
  • Seven Things You Should Know About Wikis (From Educause)
  • Wiki Pedagogy (by Renée Fountain, Université Laval) – author addresses some of the pedagogical issues associated with using wikis in the teaching environment.

Articles & Blogs


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This entry was posted on May 19, 2008 by in Blackboard 8, Instructional Technology and tagged , .

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