A wiki is online software designed to allow any user to change, not only the content, but everything (including formatting) in the wiki. Imagine a printed book like Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, that any reader could change in any way he or she wanted -- changing what the characters said; moving characters from chapter to chapter; deleting chapters; even turning the novel into a haiku! Such a tool gives tremendous power and freedom to a collective body of users -- not just a single author. But how can you use a wiki in the classroom -- and where can you go to learn more? Check out these sites!
Wikipedia's Wiki Definition
Yes, to learn about wikis, you need to consult a wiki (the dreaded "defining a word by using that same word!"). Wikipedia is a free, online encyclopedia where users can change information as they wish. Check out the entry for "wiki" to see an overview of the development of the word itself (from the Hawaiian word meaning "quick") and more. The Key Characteristics section is a bit too tech-heavy for some, so skip it and move to the Controlling Changes and Vandalism sections for information on the challenges of an "open environment." Keep reading and you'll find numerous links for further information including wikis about wikis (called WikiNodes)!
Wikis in Plain English Video
Still confused? Check out this video, which walks you through the basic steps of creating a wiki. Note that although some specific steps might vary, this would be a great place to start for those who like to see how something works instead of just reading about it!
Paul Allison's Wiki Teaching
Want to see a K-12 teacher using a wiki in his daily classroom? Check out Paul Allison's site (which by the way is written as a blog -- an online journal by one author). Not only does he provide examples of high school students as they write, but he also shares some cautions based on his experience. You might want to click around at this site to see various wiki entries.
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Article by Lorrie Jackson
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