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Why use a wiki?

Wikis are simple, flexible tools for collaboration. They can be used for everything from simple lists of web links to building entire encyclopedias. As an example, Wikipedia is the world's largest wiki. In your own class it's important to have a plan for your wiki so students know how it fits in with their learning. If it's an individual wiki, will they be graded? Is it simply a staging area for group work that will be submitted as assignments later? Will you let the students be completely responsible for the work? How will you deal with offensive content? The great advantage of a wiki is that all edits are clearly visible and reversible.

Ideas for using wikis

Class notes

Creating a wiki for class lecture notes after a lecture gives students a chance to combine all their notes. Those that missed information can get it from their peers. The class can also decide what information is critical and give it proper emphasis. Class lecture notes could be done with the entire class, if it is small enough, or with small working teams. Teams can also compare notes for further discussion and refinement.

Team Project management

After assigning a team project you can give students a place to work by creating a wiki with the group mode enabled. This will give each team their own space to record research, to develop outlines and to create the final product.


Brainstorming is a non-judgmental group creative process in which group members are encouraged to give voice to any ideas they personally consider relevant to the group exercise. In a face-to-face meeting, a brainstorming facilitator will usually stand in front of a big piece of paper and elicit ideas from the participants in the room. An instructor can create an online version of this process by setting up a wiki for the entire class or for smaller student groups and asking people to submit ideas around a brainstorming topic. Students can add ideas as they occur and link to other pages for elaboration.

Contribute to other wikis

You might assign your class the task of contributing to WikipediaWikiversity, or to another wiki on the Web, on any class topic, perhaps by assigning students to groups (or making it a class project if the class is small enough and the topic broad enough) and challenging them to collaboratively create an article they would feel confident posting to a public-information space. Students will use the course wiki to create drafts of the article they will eventually publish to the community by the end of the course.

Collaborative story-telling

Your students could be encourage to work together on a wiki to build up a story -each adding a sentence following on from the previous contribution.


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