Sunday, June 10, 2007

6. Wikis for Collaborative Web Publishing

Wiki is a Hawaiian word that means quick, and wikis are the fastest way to create web pages that can be collaboratively edited by multiple people. You don't need to use any special software (like Dreamweaver or Front Page), you don't need to know HTML (the Web-page computer language, and you never have to send your page to a Web server. It's really easy for a teacher, student or class to create a private or public Website on any topic you're studying.

Wikipedia is the largest and best-known Wiki. A global community of volunteer writers have made Wikipedia the world's largest encyclopedia approaching two million articles and rivaling Britannica for accuracy (according to a 2006 Australian study). Students know and trust Wikipedia, but many teachers are less familiar and less confident regarding its use in school. If you haven't visited Wikipedia, DO SO. Search for a topic in your specialty and judge its value for yourself. Next search for a topic that provokes strongly differing viewpoints like War in Iraq, Global Warming, Stem Cell Research or Abortion. See how Wikipedia handles those hot topics. If you require your students to do research, you should discuss the pros and cons of Wikipedia with them to help them understand the world's most comprehensive encyclopedia. Note: Many teachers of advanced classes have their students add to a Wikipedia article or a Wikibook.

Video of Wiki in Plain English
Here's a four-minute Common Craft YouTube video that explains the wiki ideas with plain English and simple diagrams.

Visit an Education Wiki
Below are links to a wide variety of educational wikis. If you are a high school English teacher, try the Educause article on using wikis to teach writing skills. If you teach any advanced discipline, try the Using a Wiki in Education article from the Science of Spectrometry. The Educational Wikis link will connect you to many K-12 and professional development wikis for you to browse. As you explore these wikis, keep in mind that they were created and edited by groups of people like you with no special Web development skills or software!

Add a Wiki Entry
The easiest way to learn about wikis is to create or edit a wiki entry. Below is a sandbox wiki that is designed for teachers and librarians to learn-by-doing. Click on the Learning 2.0 Wiki Sandbox and choose a favorites page (I like the favorite restaurants page). You'll need to enter the password (which is "PLCMC"). Scroll through the editing box to see how others have created their entries. Try making a change or adding your own favorite. Just follow their formatting examples. When finished, click the SAVE button and see how your entry has been added to the Web page. You can re-edit to modify your entry as many times as you wish.

Write an entry in your blog that reflects your exploration and thoughts about wikis, perhaps in your classroom. You can include a link to any website in your blog. Remember to tag your post with the workshop tag.

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