Wiki for education

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Workshop Outline

Register for the current session from the LIDC.

Presenter: Jason Toal Jtoal 08:28, 17 February 2010 (PST)jtoal

Description- Wikis (writing web sites designed to be edited by a group) can compliment existing activities and assignments. In this 1 hr intensive workshop we discuss some of the principles that make wikis effective collaboration tools, show innovative examples how they are being used today, and prepare instructors for leveraging this web-based activity to benefit the learning needs of students. 

Learning Outcomes

Participants will be able to:

  • Describe a wiki and its basic components
  • Know how to setup their own wiki at SFU or externally
  • Create and edit a wiki page
  • Have an understanding how wiki may work within the context of their own course


From getting started to best practices

What is a wiki?  The definitive answer.

Jason's answer: "A digital notebook" <ref>jason said this today</ref>

Most wikis work the same. They make it easy for everyone to change what appears on a webpage with a click of a button. It's as easy as erasing a word and rewriting it. <ref name="Wikis in Plain English">Commoncraft Release Date: 5/29/2007. Video Length: 3:34.</ref>

Anatomy of a Wiki

Article - the main page describing the concept. The title of page is in the URL.

Discussion - allows users to have a conversation "on the back of the Article page"

History - displays all previous versions of a page, allowing users to

Watch - lets users save and monitor specific pages of interest

Recent Changes - an overview of all activity on the site

Markup language or WYSIWYG editor - the means by which content is added and formatted

'''What makes a wiki different from other types of websites?''' 

Traditional websites use "folder within folder" design - Navigation often matches file

A blog displays "post" in reverse chronological order, but can be grouped by categories or tags

wikis are "flat". There is no inherent structure, each page is a 2nd level page, hub & spoke design.

Wikis at SFU

Where to find more information?
General information about wikis at SFU is available at SFU Wikis are run off of the Mediwiki platform, the same software responsible for Wikipedia.

SFU's public wiki: available to the SFU community, (the home of this workshop page)

Who to contact for more information about wikis?
Faculty and staff may contact the following LIDC staff for help and more information:
Amy Severson ( or ☎ 2-7245)
Jason Toal ( ☎ 2-7243)
David Rubeli ( ☎2-8876)

How to request a wiki?
Instructors or researchers who wish to use the Wiki service should email, with the class section(s) of students, and any instructors, TAs, etc. that should have access to the Wiki.


Each article in most cases can be edited by all members of the wiki, but how do you create new articles?

The help page that answers this question is called How to create a new page in the wiki

There are two basic steps:

Search first - necessary in more public or heavily used sites

Make an internal link on an existing page with the Rich editor, or using wiki text title

  • It is some what a backwards at first, but in wiki you create THE LINK to the page before you create the page itself.


This activity will familiarize participants with the basic mechanics of creating and editing an "article" on the SFU wiki service.

Begin by making a new page in the sandbox

Jasons new page

Alison - My first wiki page is called ...
Claire - My first wiki page is called ...
Cynthia - My first wiki page is called ...
Julian - My first wiki page is called ...
Rebecca - My first wiki page is called ...


Using wikis in the classroom

Preparing yourself and your students for online collaborative activities

Online resource: Wiki Writing: Collaborative Learning in the College Classroom<ref>Robert E. Cummings and Matt Barton, Editors - Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press and University of Michigan Library, © 2008.;idno=5871848.0001.001</ref> A free online book providing in-depth further reading

What types of class activities are wikis best suited for? 

In general...

  • Course Website - Provide resources, Syllabi, handouts
  • Collaborative writing /Group authoring - Show ongoing progress of work
  • Brainstorming - Outlines, Presentations, Projects
  • Mindmapping - For conceptual exploration, or website design (low fidelity site maps)
  • Building a knowledge repository - Course "text book", Taxonomies, A collection of resources
  • Building community, accountability and social responsibility - Participants need to take an active part in the management and evolution of the site.

(get some more specific ideas here)

In a ‘socially mobile learning environment’, it is no longer sufficient to use online learning and teaching technologies simply for the delivery of content to students. A ‘digital literacy’ exists where flexible and mobile technologies must be explored for collaborative and (co)creative purposes, as well as for the critical assessment and evaluation of information.<ref>Duffy, Peter D. and Bruns, Axel (2006) The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. In: Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006, 26 Sep. 2006, Brisbane.</ref> From Duffy and Bruns  2006 (summarized above)
Students can use a wiki to develop research projects, with the wiki serving as ongoing documentation of their work.
Students can add summaries of their thoughts from the prescribed readings, building a collaborativeannotated bibliography on a wiki
A wiki can be used for publishing course resources'like syllabi and handouts, and stu- dents can edit and comment on these directly for all to see.
Teachers can use wikis as a knowledge base, enabling them to share reflections and thoughts regarding teaching practices, and allowing for versioning and documentation.
Wikis can be used to map concepts. They are useful for brainstorming, and editing a given wiki topic can produce a linked network of resources.
A wiki can be used as a presentation tool in place of conventional software, and students are able to directly comment on and revise the presentation content.
Wikis are tools for group authoring. Often group members collaborate on a document by emailing to each member of the group a file that each person edits on their computer, and some attempt is then made to coordinate the edits so that everyone’s work is equally rep- resented; using a wiki pulls the group members together and enables them to build and edit the document on a single, central wiki page.

Assignments and activities

Choosing wiki assignments that work for your course

When first starting out it is often difficult to decide where and how a wiki may come into play and benefit the student overall learning experience. Some question you may begin asking yourself are:

Do students in your class need to work together?
Is the learning material in your course constantly evolving?
Can the work of one cohort be used and built upon by proceeding cohorts?

Educational examples

Example 1 - College English - Course website

Example 2 - Introduction to New Media - Course website

Example 3 - KIN 417 - A course wiki "online textbook" on obesity

Example 4 - Bus494 - Team projects for business course

Example 5 - The color of water - Group project website for English 10 Lit.


This section needs content


An ongoing collection of links both internal and external to SFU about using wikis in education

Open Content

Using Wikis in education

Writing Wiki

For Teachers New to Wikis

Other SFU  Wikis

Web CT - FAQ's tips, and tricks for students and faculty

Thinkubator - a dynamic forum for news, commentary, and opinion about publishing in Canada and beyond

Cognitive Science - "a wealth of knowledge on all things cognitive science"

External Wikis


WetPaint - (free)

WikiSpaces - (free for K-12)

Examples of Educational wikis - Wet Paint

Educational Wikis- K-12[1]

Wikis in the Classroom - Wet Paint

Wiki-related Links

Another wiki work shop
Blogging Clicks with Colleges Washington Post - article discusses several professors using wiki in their courses
Blogs and Wikis transform college teaching Smart Mobs
Collaboration with Wikis and Blogs: How to make it happen USC Center for Scholarly Technology
Jonathan D. Nolen - Blog

John Maxwell -
Seb's Open Research
Ward Cunningham - Wiki inventor
Jon Udell: Heavy metal umlaut: the movie an illustration of the growth of a wiki page over time
WikiLiver Wiki used in medical education
[ Ross Mayfield's Blog] Blog authored by the founder of Socialtext
Quickiwiki, Swiki, Twiki, Zwiki and the Plone Wars Wiki as a PIM and Collaborative Content Tool
WikiWeb - a free lesson plan archive that anyone can edit.

UBC wiki -

Wikis to Connect, Collaborate, Create


Presentation -


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