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Wiki Wiki

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What do you know about Wikis? Most of us only heard about Wikis when they became controversial because of Wikipedia. Did you know that a Wiki is just a type of web page that is easy to collaborate with online? Since the early 1990's people have been using Wikis for this purpose.

In the last few years several free Wiki sites have appeared and many educators have begun to use them for very interesting projects.

Two of the most popular are PB Wiki and WikiSpaces. These are both companies that are very interested in supporting educational use. WikiSpaces will actually provide educators with free Wiki space that does not include advertising! Go to 100,000 Wikis in the Classroom.

Contrary to popular opinion Wikis can be very controlled. A teacher can indicate whether the Wiki will be completely open for reading and writing, open only for reading and to an invited few for editing, or completely closed. If a Wiki is closed you will not even see it online. Many people use this sort of Wiki for a specific limited project among a certain group of people. It is not something that would be of interest to others, so there is no reason to post it to the world. It is even possible to download a Wiki and run it yourself from the computer so that it is not even on a server. For example, see the tip about Tiddly Wiki.

Now that so many educators are beginning to use Wikis for specific projects why recreate the wheel? There may already be Wikis out there that meet your needs. Why not contribute to them and improve them rather than starting all over again with your own?

Here are some examples of Wikis that educators are using:

Start at EduWikis to find Wikis that you can use and adapt for your own use. You will notice that some of the Wikis on this space are locked and you will not be able to edit them, but others ask that you contribute to them.

A terrific example of the way that Wikis can be used to connect and collaborate is The Flat Classroom Project.

A collection of ideas for US History Teachers is US History Wiki. There are clear directions on how to participate for those who wish to contribute to or learn from this one.

A Wiki on the subject of child Internet safety is Child Safety, which was created for Technology & Learning's Tech Forum in Austin, Texas in October 2006!

A Wiki can also be an easy way to post web sites for your students to visit for a project, as is CodeBlue!, which deals with the human body.

There are tons of ideas here for users of Google Earth in education. Visit Classroom Google Earth wiki.

Finally, just go to WikiSpaces to search on any topic and bring up any public Wikis on that topic. Have fun searching!

Submitted by:Janice Friesen, Educator
Austin, TX

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