How I use wikis. What do you do?

I just got off a great call with Steve Hardagon, of EdTechLive, and Adam Frey, of Wikispaces. We discussed wikis in education and it was a great call, even though I got in trouble for forgetting to mute my mike! (Adam was just saying such exciting things I was scribbling away with my unsharpened pencil and making a racket, I'm sure! I guess Steve will have a little extra editing to do!)

During the last two nights, I've been talking about several things. Here is some information that I want to share with you.

How I use wikis in the classroom

I have two primary uses: classroom organization and classroom content.

Classroom organization

The wiki is my hub. I guess you could say, I have a wiki-centric classroom. Whether it is blogs, podcasts, wikis, or vodcasts, if it is created in my classroom it is linked on the wiki. If the student creates it, they are to link it. It gives us one place to organize and post and one place to send content to me.

Classroom content

I've organized my uses into 5 categories of educational uses.

1 – Lesson Summaries

When we complete a lesson, the students are to post “their lesson” to the wiki. This includes vocabulary but also concepts that are part of the lesson. This is a collaborative effort after the initial information is posted. What results is a great compendium of information about a topic that students can access from home when it is time to study. (So much for “leaving their book” at school.)

2 – Collaboration of Notes

This is different because this is student driven and student created. Many colleges are seeing this happen spontaneously on college campuses as students strive to make collective sense out of large amounts of material. Many educators fear this, but I embrace it. As the students edit, work and re-edit, they are learning.

Of course there are “bottom feeders” just as in anything, but although they look at the notes, they will never retain the full amount of those that participated in editing.

3 – Concept Introduction and Exploratory Projects

This is perfect for the wiki. Any time there is a topic that I do not know a lot about (usually because it is so new) we explore the topic together and create information on the wiki. (See mashups for an example of this.) We teach one another and interact on an equal playing field and emerge as pseudo-experts in our topic by the end of the period.

4 – Dissemination of Important Classroom Information beyond the Classroom

This week as we've worked on our Computer Safety and Privacy wiki book, my students are beginning to feel the calling of sharing this important information with others. We uploaded our first video about why you should protect your identity.

If you're interested, I'll tell you how we did it in one class period! I've included a copy for you to see here. We uploaded it to Google video (I have to preapprove and upload to my account) and then we link it to the wikipage by clicking the insert media box.

5 – Individual assessment projects
As we have moved towards genuine assessments, I moved away from my exam last year. (Not very willingly either.) However, my first semester project stunned me with the breadth of knowledge that the students acquired through the process.

In Conclusion
I've created a 2005-2006 wiki archive to free up space on my homepage for the new items and this year's material.

I've been enjoying using Skype. I am such a newbie at it! I've done everything wrong in my first two days of using it, but I'm going to share it with you soon!

Thanks to Jennifer the Technospud for helping me out and giving me tips! She is one of those people who doesn't look down on newbies.

It is so important to be kind to beginners. In our changing world, even those of us who've been using technology since we were eight (like me) have new things to learn. It is so comforting to have encouraging hands to help us along the way!

How do you wiki?

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14 thoughts on “How I use wikis. What do you do?

  1. I am using wikis for classroom collaboration and also collate and present resources. I am using PBWiki for both but am considering starting another wiki with WikiSpaces to compare. PBWiki is very good but I have not spent the extra $5 per month to make it advertisment free yet. Given your example Vivki I think WikiSpaces will be more suitable for what I need for the students. My classroom wiki started last year for the senior ITGS class to create their own knowledge base for the ITGS course. See ITGS Wiki We have not gone very far with it yet but this is the start of a new year with new ambitions ;-). I intend to build the wiki into the overall assessment of the subject this year and focus on originality of contributions. The Podcast Jazz Wiki was created to provide accompanying resources for my NECC presentation.

  2. Julie – Great job! Very exciting!

    Langwitches –
    The one I showed here is slightly edited in Pinnacle Studio 10. However, the software with the web cams is what morphed the face. The web cams are $95 each — they are logitech QuickCams. I got them from CDW-g and they rest on the top of the desktop which allows the camera to be picked up and go mobile (especially if you have a laptop.) The Logitech software is worth the $95 because it does everything!

    It is a very new product and I’m going to write a little more about it soon!

  3. I’ve done a few projects with my high school history students:
    – Holocaust Wiki Project – students used a wiki to create a branching simulation on the Holocaust
    – AP World History Review – Did a Wikipedia inspire project help review for the exam.
    – WWI Battles Wiki WebQuest – Students used the wiki to post battle plans in a WWI simulation.

    I’m looking to explore some new avenues this school year. Don’t have much regular access to a lab though. I presented these at NECC, the web site for the presentation is:
    http://www.ahistoryteacher.com/necc2006

  4. I am new to wiki’s and have been having fun with my classroom wiki. So far my kids have been a little hesitant to use it, but we are only in the first week of school. My hope is that they will eventually take the wiki over from me and turn it into a sort of textbook for the class. I have also started a blog with them and have been so pleased with their posts. They were just given a question to respond to on Thursday and I have been having a blast reading their posts and comments. In a few weeks, I’ll introduce the idea of podcasting to them…but I am still learning how to do it myself, so I’d appreciate any advice you can offer in that area. Here is a link to my wiki and my blog. Feel free to comment on the blog articles. I’m sure my students would just love that.

    My wiki: http://khsaplit.pbwiki.com

    On the sidebar you will see a link to our class blog as well as a link to my own blog.

  5. Wonderful Blog! This is an great teaching tool for all teachers and educators who want to find new and creative ways of communicating and assessing student progress and development.Can you give us more information about all you software uses?

  6. Thank you! I am currently taking a class that is all about integrating technology into the classroom. I have been trying to decide what to do for my project. I wanted it to be something useful for my students. I was thinking about creating a wiki, but had not decided if this is what I really wanted to do. I have now decided. Your use of notes, collaboration and more is just what I was looking for. Thanks again!

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  8. My students can benefit most from lesson summaries and mashups. Many of my students have organizational difficulties, delayed processing speed, and are frequently absent from school. Lesson summaries that can be accessed from home can help absent and disorganized students stay on track in class. Students who have delayed processing speed can review materials at home for better understanding, and more importantantly ask questions in a nonthreatening forum.

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