What is a Wiki?
A wiki is a web-based tool that can be used by students and staff to work collaboratively to create materials, resources and presentations. Known for their simplicity, users can add and edit content easily, creating a group web site. Each change in content is recorded and content can be easily reverted back to previous versions. This tool has been used on campus successfully for a number of applications and is available within Blackboard for you to use in your course.
Wiki Use at Seton Hall
Wikis have been used at Seton Hall for a variety of group collaborative activities. These include group lab work in an ecology class, final student project presentation scheduling for Art History, collaborative group assignments in Communications Leadership and for group committee work across the community. Wikis have also been used for Visual Design Theory group research and creating e-books.
Why use a Wiki in Your Class?
There are some advantages to using wikis in your classroom in addition to providing an area for groups to collaborate.
- With a hyperlinking function, wikis promote and support non-linear thought.
- Wikis teach accountability by allowing anyone to publish content.
- Versioning promotes individual participation.
- Students can create a permanent resource for others, in and outside the classroom.
- Wikis can be used for an ice breaker to engage students early in the course
- Promotes Information Literacy
Should your wiki be public or private?
The first decision you have to make is if you want your wiki to be accessible to the public. If the purpose of your wiki is inter-collegiate or collaboration between course sections, a public wiki might be the way to go. Outside wikis tend to come with more tools and advanced features which make customization easier. When looking for a free outside wiki, choose a service that has been around for some time, such as PBWorks
. Many public wiki sites for education allow limited viewing and editing though a user name and password.
However, if your wiki is to be used for confidential committee work, a Blackboard wiki is your best choice.
The Blackboard Wiki Features:
- Easy setup and use
- All students or those belonging to Blackboard group can contribute
- Created through Course Tools
- Versioning included
- Can be linked to the Grade Book for assessment
To learn how to use a Blackboard wiki, click on one of the tutorials below.
Other universities have embraced wiki web technology, providing us with examples of best practice. A wiki created in a Black Movements in the U.S
course at Columbia University is a excellent example of student collaborative authoring. The result is a permanent resource for the academic community.
At Bowdoin College, Mark Phillipson wanted his students to do something with new media that wasn't just "passive consumption". He also wanted his students to compare the printing and distribution techniques of today with those in the industrial revolution. The solution, a wiki for his 19th Century Literature course.
Tips for Wiki Success
- Provide introduction, instructions and guidelines for your student on how to use the wiki. Plan to be available for support.
- Envision what the wiki structure should be. Consider creating the basic structure yourself with students adding pages and content.
- Some wikis only allow one student to access a wiki page at one time. Investigate and plan ahead if this is the case to minimize conflicts using wiki structure.
- Decide on how you are going to assess student use of the wiki.
- Consider how the wiki will fit with all the other writing assignments and collaborative work. Readjust assignments if necessary.
- Introduce and encourage the concept of hyperlinking to students.
- The Blackboard wiki has a comment feature. How will this mesh with the regular discussion board?
- Incorporate the wiki assignment into your syllabus.
- Discuss collaborative editing in advance.
- Students might need to disable pop-up blockers and firewalls.