Wiki Me!

8 Mar

It’s like Will Richardson (2010) sneaked inside my head and is reading my mind! I laughed out loud when I read, “Now, I know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of ‘Well, I can skip this chapter, ’cause this anyone-can-do-anything wiki thing will never work in my school.'” (p56). That was exactly what I was thinking! But he promised me that wikis are “amazing and versatile”, so, in my brain (which he can read anyways so we apparently we can communicate like this), I said, “Fine. Show me what you’ve got.”

My Wikipedia background is not extensive. I use the site to as a starting point to learn about topics that I have little or no knowledge about. The PSA that I work for has a wiki but I can’t stand using it because I feel that it is too messy for me to even look at. Other than that, I have little to do with wikis.

I tried searching for wikis in education and I ran into many of the same issues that I have had in the past – they are messy, messy, messy! To solve my problem and try to see the potential that Richardson (2010) promised to me, I defaulted to one of my personal favourite lists of teacher-created Web 2.0 materials – the Edublog Award List. One of the award categories last year was the Best Educational Wikis.

When I found Celebr8UandMeDigitally I finally saw the fabulous collaboration that Richardson swore I could experience. This wiki is a collection of student work across countries that explains how students across the world celebrate different holidays in their homeland. What a great idea! The students have submitted their work using Glogster, AnimateMe, GoAnimate, Vocaroo, YouTube, Wallwisher and Toondoo. Being a blogger who is sometimes frustrated by trying to ensure that every program I use is compatible with my blog, the freedom to share work created with so many different programs is like a breath of fresh air. This proves to me that wikis are something to seriously consider to encourage the inclusion of multiple intelligences in technology projects. Visual learners may choose to use Glogster, while kinesthetic learners may act out the holiday in a YouTube video. Auditory or musical learners could create a radio program or song to upload as an audio file. I love that this is a Web 2.0 tool that allows for all the different learning styles!

To learn how to use a wiki in teaching I used the wiki Technology4Kids (Terrell, 2010) as a resource. As an overview of setting up, maintaining, editing and using a wiki in education, I cannot recommend this resource enough. It is a perfect starting place for teachers who are looking for information about wikis in the classroom.

Finally, after a lot of reading, I was ready. I created my own wiki at Watching their Wiki Tour videos helped me learn a little bit about how to use my brand new wiki, but, of course, I actually learned far more from playing with my new wiki.

Since I’m not in a classroom right now and I want my wiki to be something that is actually beneficial, I decided to use the wiki as a platform to share some of the classroom resources that I have created. I’ve had some of these published in our PSA publication but I don’t necessarily want to put all of my hard work out on the internet for everyone to use. With an educational wiki not sharing my work with the world isn’t a problem since only people that I have invited can view and post on my wiki.

I think that the privacy of an educational wiki is one of the things that makes it a great Web 2.0 tool for the classroom! With a blog, once someone has the URL they are able to access it and view the work that is posted there. With an educational wiki, users need to be invited and login each time they want to view it and this could help to minimize privacy concerns.

One thing that I found easy to do with my wiki was delete things (oops!). This wasn`t necessarily a good thing as many of the items that I deleted should not have been. Apparently, my learning curve for using the wiki controls without deleting items is not steep because this happened over and over again. Thankfully, with a class wiki, the wiki controls allow the wiki page to be restored to an older form and deleted items magically reappear. As the moderator of a wiki, you can be alerted to changes and keep an eye on everything that is added (…or deleted) (Crane, 2009).  Richardson (2010) points out the importance of giving some of the moderator control and management to students as increased control is correlated with increased responsibility and ownership of a wiki’s contents. While a teacher may initially want to hold most of the control, as a wiki progresses control could slowly be given to the students. This is not unlike the way things naturally progress  throughout the year in a classroom anyways. Our goal is to always teach a skill, have the students practice the skill with our assistance, and then learn to use the skill themselves.

My favourite inspirational collection of ideas for wiki use is the teacher collaboration document titled 17 Interesting Ways to Use a Wiki in the Classroom. It had so many ideas that it got my mind spinning!. I could see myself using wikis as a way to show off student work as a class, create student learning portfolios, or share teaching techniques among the staff (Barrett, n.d.).

As with all Web 2.0 tools, one of the most important things is to continue to use a wiki in new and creative ways over an extended period of time. As Dossiers technopédagogiques (2005) outlines in their list of key wiki guidelines for teachers, there are ways to begin  and finish using a wiki.

“How to begin

  • Begin with a period of open use (i.e. a sandbox).
  • Use introductory activities (e.g. “who’s who”, movie reviews) and other not-required-but-useful activities to convince students of the utility of the exercise by generating discussions.
  • Get students to post questions and requests for other students to answer; people are happy to help when someone actually seems to want the help.
  • Plan what will be covered in future class meetings.

Where to end

  • Don’t.”


Barrett, T. (n.d.). 17 interesting ways to use wikis in the classroom. Retrieved on March 3, 2011 from

Crane, B. E. (2009). Using Web 2.0 Tools in the K-12 Classroom. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc.

Dossiers technopédagogiques. (2005). Pedagogical potential. Retrieved on February 29, 2011 from

Edublog. (2011). Celebrating blogging and social media in education: The Edublog 2010 awards. Retrieved on February 27, 2011 from

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Terrell, S. (2010). Technology4kids: Wikis. Retrieved on February 27, 2011 from


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