Wikis in Education

For students of undergraduate to graduate grade.

Time Frame: 1 week

“Heard of wikis? They are Web sites that allow anyone to make changes to them. The word wiki comes from the Hawaiian word wikiwiki which meads “quick.” One of the largest wikis is wikipedia.org, a free collaborative encyclopedia that was started in 2001. It currently has over 700,000 articles in 60 languages and is edited and expanded by thousands of people each day.”
Eileen Barnett, Instructional Computing, Lesley University

Purpose: 
Experiment and evaluate the use of wikis, compared to other kinds of web sites, i.e., traditional web sites, blogs, etc.

Knowledge Base Developed: 
Learn to use a collaborative web site to improve the quality of worldwide human knowledge.

Outcome:
Discuss the teaching and/or learning projects that would benefit from this technology, and your ideas for integrating them into your classroom, specifically for your subject, grade and kinds of students.  ______________________________________________________________________

Background info for students:
Wikis are groupware, i.e. technology designed to help groups to work together. This assignment is meant to teach you what a Wiki is and how to contribute information to Wikipedia.  Wikipedia surveys existing human knowledge. The intent is not to publish new articles that present your own original theories, opinions, or insights.  Wikipedia is about editing factual articles to improve the quality of the information.  Your Wikipedia entry is a contribution to global human knowledge, therefore you should be certain that you are adding facts, and that you check your spelling and grammar. I hope the following paragraphs help clarify the appropriate use of Wikipedia rather than other collaborative software.

Groupware typically allows users to add content to a forum or pool of information. Some common examples of groupware are blogs, yahoo groups, my.Lesley, and chat tools like IM (Instant Messenger).  Although Wikipedia utilizes groupware technology, working in groups is not the point. The point is to collect and store factual information from worldwide contributors regardless of their level of expertise.

Wikipedia is unique in that it allows anyone with web access to *edit* any Wikipedia article.  Group editing is essential because it ensures that information added to this global knowledge source may be continually corrected and enhanced.  This feature is arguably good and bad. On the contrary, blogs tend to express individual opinion, and allow visitors to post comments, not edit the posted content.  Likewise in our discussion board, you post and/or edit your own entry.  Though your classmates may post comments, they may not edit your entry.

To check your Wiki contribution, I look for your name in the Wikipedia article's history.  I start by clicking the link to your Wikipedia article that you post in our discussion board.  You should copy the link from your browser and paste it to avoid typos.  Be sure to copy the link from the page that displays the article that you edited or added.  After I follow your link to your wiki page, I will click the history tab and look for your name in the history.  

The history records when and what you added or changed. If you do not create a Wiki user ID, then your IP address will appear in the Wikipedia history to identify your edits.  Your IP address is the address your computer uses to access the Internet.  Consequently, you need to create a Wiki ID (open a Wikipedia account), to make it easier for me to see who edited what. A link to create an account is in the upper right on the Wikipedia pages.

Another kind of Wiki, called TWiki, was created because worldwide visitor edits are inappropriate for some collaborations. TWikis can be limited access Wikis, e.g. you need to have editing rights to edit or add to TWikis. They would be perfect for collaborative project, presentation, or report development.  See http://twiki.org for details.  

Instructions for Students:
STEP 1:

• Travel to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki and explore Wikipedia.
• For more on wikis visit: http://wiki.org/wiki.cgi?WhatIsWiki
• For 'how to edit' Wikipedia visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Introduction_2


STEP 2:
• Create a Wikipedia ID by opening a Wikipedia account, to make it easier for me to find your contribution on the Wikipedia article history page. Look for a link to create an account in the upper right of Wikipedia pages.
• Log in and contribute to Wikipedia by editing or adding a wiki article.  You may edit an existing article by adding or correcting information that has been published already, or you may create a new article.  Minimally, your assignment is to edit an existing Wikipedia article, but you may choose to add a new article!
• Discuss two ideas for integrating a wiki in a lesson plan, class projects, or other idea.  
• Post the link to your Wikipedia page and your two ideas on the class Discussion Board.
* You should copy the link from your browser and paste it into my.lesley to avoid typos.  Be sure to copy the link from the page that displays the article that you edited or added.  
• Submit a comment on the ideas of two other students’ Discussion Board postings.