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Read more about
Wiki-based education
and collaboration

  • James A. West, Margaret L. West, Using wikis for online collaboration: the power of the read-write Web – 2009
  • Robert E. Cummings, Wiki writing: collaborative learning in the college classroom – 2008
  • Anja Ebersbach, Markus Glaser, Richard Heigl, Wiki: Web Collaboration – 2008
  • Don Tapscott, Wikinomics – 2010

Tool of the Month - Wikispaces.com (January, 2012)

A wiki is a web service used to build your own websites with flexible structure, multimedia content and easy-to-use hypertext. You can use it for project work, e-portfolios, dynamic syllabi, digital grade books, your personal site, virtual classrooms and many related and combined teaching products, projects and resources. A wiki is easy to set up, requires little to none technical skills to maintain and works effortlessly on the web. This might be the easiest and the most intuitive way to publish and author content on the web.

Wiki is different from any other web publishing platform for three reasons:
1. Wikis don’t have a file system or a pre-set hierarchy. Any page could link to any other page, to all pages or no pages. A wiki is simply a set of documents that you link whichever way you like. You don’t bother about file names, extensions, link validity, folders or other technicalities – the wiki engine takes care of everything, so you only focus on the content that matters.
2. Wiki is loosely based on interlinking and heavily based on searching. Even if your wiki site pages are not linked, your users will still be able to find what they need – if they know what to look for. Search is available on all wiki sites.
3. Wikis are very limited in terms of overall design, but are very easy to use, edit, write and build within the boundaries of the working area. You might not be able to add exquisite custom backgrounds to your pages, or build advanced cascading styles or javascript animation on a page-to-page basis. But you can definitely make nice-looking texts and insert images and videos where your content needs to go.

The wiki workflow is very simple.
Let me break it down for you in easy steps. Please read all steps before you get into actual creation, so you have a clear idea of what you are going to do.
1. To create a wiki site, go to Wikispaces.com and click “Wikis for Individuals and Groups”. On the next page fill in a form and follow the instructions on a few pages ahead.
2. When you’ve created a wiki site, it starts with one empty home page. You start work by clicking Edit on that page and entering Edit mode.
3. In the Edit mode you write the content to publish and insert the media to complement it. Wikispaces visual editor is familiar even to a novice computer user.
4. From the edit mode you also decide what sections and pages you want for your wiki site at the moment. To create those pages, write their names in the home page, select them and click Link. The dialogue will say These pages don’t exist yet, ignore that at the moment.
5. Click Save to return to viewing the home page (not editing). Now click the newly created links. They will say “Page doesn’t exist yet. Create?”—Say Create. Whenever a wiki site sees a link to a page that doesn’t exist, it lets you create and edit that page straight away. If the page with a similar name exists, the wiki site creates a valid link.
6. You can now edit new pages by clicking “Edit”. You can also add new pages inside the new ones, edit the old ones, interlink them by calling them by name and linking.
7. You can always change your site structure by deleting the pages you no longer need or relinking them. In fact, after some time with the wikis you realize that these sites don’t really have a structure — more like a starting point and the infinite universe of possible links that you might or might not create.

Here are some Wikispaces-specific user hints to help you feel more comfortable with the platform:
1. You can use the Wikispaces sidebar (area typically to the left of the content) as your custom navigation area. Find a link that says “Edit navigation” and edit the area as if it were a regular wiki page.
2. You can change and set up all of your wiki site details, preferences and settings in the Manage Wiki section. The overall design settings are in the “Look and Feed” section. Bulk pages actions are in the Pages section. Read/write protection is in the Permissions section.
3. By default, your wiki is editable by the whole world. To make it only editable by your students, go to “Manage Wiki — Permissions“ and set it to Protected. Now go to “Manage Wiki — Invite people” and paste all your students’ emails into the corresponding box. You might want to edit the invitation letter below. Then click Send, and your students will get an email offering to join the wiki. Once they accept the offer, they become both authorized users and editors.
4. To protect some of your wiki pages from edits by your students (e. g., a digital grade book page), click Lock under the PAGE menu (click the triangle to the right of the PAGE tab). You will now be the only user to edit the page. To allow student edits for the locked page, click Unlock in the same menu.