Wikis' Educational Uses - #2b

Having reviewed the basic traits of wikis, I find it important to find examples of their use in education. Schwartz, et. al.’s article on educational wikis was repetitive (and somewhat outdated in that some wikis content changes can be pulled in as RSS feeds, just as blogs) in defining wikis, but the section on educational uses provided a starting point for reviewing blogs used in schools. The authors focused on wikis used at universities and found that most were used for non-curricular issues, i.e., activities/events and project management. This again may be due to the publication date of two years ago, since wikis are relatively new tools. The authors do highlight some of the educational features of wiki usage: creating interactive activities, using as a tool for course information and resources, monitoring of discussions, building “communities of practice” and a way to problem-solve.

I determined the need to seek out some specific examples of wikis used in schools for educational purposes. I’ve listed a number of them here. They represent quite a variety in terms of content, audience, and level.

Westwood High School – this wiki is used frequently by computer science students in Vicki Davis’ classes. Projects, discussions, announcements, exams, and content construction (check out the Excel project) are all evident at this wiki site. It seems apparent that the teacher provides a lot of structure and guidance in using this wiki and getting students involved in contributing.

Pre Calculus – I certainly didn’t expect to find a math wiki out there, but why not? This wiki is designed for students (and guests!) to develop a “collaborative notebook” with actual problems and skill questions (see Geometric Sequences).

Mrs. Huff’s English classes – this wiki includes an opportunity for book discussion (see Awakenings in Honors American Lit) and a cool resource page on writing a research paper. The changes page indicates just a few by students recently, but there appears to be potential for real sharing.

Studying Societies at JHK – there is a lot of content at this wiki (though it doesn’t appear to be very creative – looks like a lot of “copy and paste” and no resources!!) – it appears to be for middle school age students, but I’m not sure whether the students actually contributed or not.

Harvard Cyberlaw – Used for discussions, note-taking, critique, as well as links for other websites, the level of sophistication is more evident. Of course, the level is post-graduate and the topic is relevant, as well.

The next two are not used by particular schools, but thought they offered some additional insight as portals for learning.

High school collaborative online writing is a Wikicity for use by schools. This wiki has the aim of promoting collaborative writing and providing a test area where students can do that. Teachers are invited to set up school projects within the wiki. There are no set criteria for the content.

Wiki Liver – I kept this one on the list, as one of the postsecondary adult programs I work with includes all of the health science (i.e., LPN, CNA, Medical Assisting) courses and thought it might be a starting point to demonstrate a specific usage of wikis. It also demonstrates that wikis, though read/write oriented are not limited to words, but can incorporate visuals, as well.

It has been helpful to see how others are using wikis for educational purposes. I don’t think the collaborative potential has been tapped in some of these examples, but I also recognize the novelty of wikis. The practical applications get the juices flowing as to how wikis can be used in my own school, but there’s still much to research. I want to get back to the educational foundations and underpinnings, the pedagogy of wikis – next post!

Schwartz, L., Clark, S., Cossarin, M., & Rudolph, J. (April, 2004). Educational wikis: Features and selection criteria. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (5, 1) Retrieved March 18, 2006 from


At 9:45 PM, Blogger Joshua O said...

Nice Wiki links and examples Marie. With all of the research you have done, which Wiki is your favorite so far? After finishing our readings for this week, I was wondering if you have started thinking of the layout for your Vocational Training Wiki? Both articles seemed to have implications for your project. The content and format will affect how your users learn while the ease of use and attractiveness may influence to a degree how much they learn and continue to return and contribute to the site.

I found that after following your wiki links, I viewed some sites more extensively than others and I’m not sure that content was the determining factor. Without biasing our other group members, I am curious which sites they spent more time on. There may be visual traits that we are attracted to versus others. This is more of a final packaging issue but it might make for interesting research – what wiki website layouts attract the most users?


At 10:05 PM, Blogger M. Yates said...

This was really interesting Marie. As I have said before Wikis are pretty new to me. I had the idea that all Wikis were very similar to the Wikipedia you showed us. I can now see how a forum like this would be very helpful to a classroom teacher. I am still a little unclear about Mashups but the podcast from Westwood High School made it a little more clear. I like how she compared a Mashup to an Ecosystem (nice science connection!)when she said that just as organisms in an ecosystem work together the databases in a Mashup work together. I am certainly learning a lot from you!

I also really liked the Pre Calculus site. I saw something similar to this when researching blogs for another class. A math teacher "Mr. K" had his students taking turns as the class "scribe". This scribe would write down the days math topic and summarize the notes and assignments which were given. They also provided their own take on the problems. It was very interesting to see how well this seemed to work! (I need to show this to Julie) :O)

Marie Y.

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Julie Romey said...

Marie - Wow! I'm beginning to wonder if I should ditch blogs and move to wikis! It seems like such a great tool for collaboration. I really like the personal space that blogs provide though. I think this is important for kids, especially teenagers. I think there can be a blend of the two - it's just a matter of making it work.

Josh had an interesting point about the layout and design of the different sites. For me personally, I didn't spend too much time on the calculus one, but that was purely from a content standpoint. I didn't understand any of it, so why spend time there! :-) There were two that looked too much like wikipedia and turned me off instantly. I spent most of my time exploring the Westwood High School(I want to be that lady when I grow up!!), Mrs. Huff's English Class, and Studying Socieites at JHK. These appealed to me from a design standpoint, as well as the content. I agree with Josh that this would be an interesting avenue to explore - the design appeal of wikis.

Great job on finding examples. Wikis really are an interesting new technology to explore.


Post a Comment

<< Home