Monday, June 30, 2008

The Wonderful World of Wikis

This session was presented by Adam Frey, cofounder of Wikispaces and Vicki Davis (aka coolcatteacher) teacher at Westwood Schools.

Adam Frey started the session by explaining about the back channel link for the session. For those of you who don't know, it is a chat room for the participants of a session to speak during the session and ask each other questions. There is a back channel moderator in the room answering questions and writing some down to guide the session as it goes on.

From Adam: What is a wiki? It is a standard webpage where you can go click a button and change the content. Anyone can change the content. The wiki keeps track of who makes the changes and when. If you are a teacher and your kids are making changes to a wiki you can look and see who made the change and when. You can have the wiki email you when any changes have been made or you can follow the changes through an RSS feed.

Benefits of having a wiki: Kids don't have to have email, it's easy and doesn't take a lot of time, you don't have to have special software. You can have a fully open wiki or you can have one private for your classroom. They are fully capable of embedding html code to post videos from You Tube, Teacher Tube or Voicethread. There is no limit to disk space for the number of pages you want or amount of content.

The biggest advantage to using a wiki for a group project is that it is "trackable to the comma". You can look at the history tab and see the contribution of each person. Vicki keeps all of her class wikis private for the students and students aren't introduced to public wikis until 9th grade, such as Wikipedia.

What does she put on the wiki?
Course outline, student files for them to download, project list and due dates, embedded videos, student artifacts, spreadsheets, blog posts, websites used for projects on student portfolios.

Creating efolios for the students to complete in high school and use as resume or job interviews. Business now want your application and information submitted to them digitally.

The biggest change in her practice is using tags with the kids for their assignments. She teaches the kids how to use tags and has them tag their work in the wiki by naming it assignment or turnitin.

Subscribe to the edits and discussions separately that your students are having.
Problems: Watch your RSS feed closely for edits and let the students know that you take online spaces seriously like you take the behavior in your classroom seriously. You have to be tough and watch everything just like you are when you set up rituals and routines in a classroom. Don't use computers to babysit. They need to have a TASK when they get on the computer.

Vicki Davis was asked why use a blog or a wiki? Do they need both? She says: Blogs are for opinion and first person writing. Wikis are for facts, the assignment.

Check out this video for more about wikis:

Live blogged - so please excuse awkward writing. :)


Anonymous said...

Hey Melanie, I think this is cool. It would be great for a grade level to set one up. They could be used it to form an agenda for teacher meetings or WOW days. Not sure exactly how to use it for my classroom since the info can be changed by students. I would like to hear more about it. Michelle

Melanie Holtsman said...

I love the idea of using it for teacher meetings and there are lots we can do with the kids because it is capable of being protected per teacher decision... :) Also, there may be a collaborative thing you want the kids to all work on together. It has exciting possibilities! Thanks Michelle :)

Suzanne said...

I get the basic idea of a wiki, but I have to actually do it to see the full possibilities. If we did use it for building Teacher Meeting agendas, then perhaps teachers would feel more in charge of their own PD. Leaves me curious.

Stephen C. Veliz said...

Good live blogging. I'd like to talk to Vicki about her class wiki projects. They were great for group projects in my classes this year. I used wikis with about 100 students, 3-4 students per group, one wikispace per group.

I'll certainly use them again this year, but I do want to improve upon what we've already done.

dayle said...

If we required all Teacher agendas - including Leadership and PIC to go through a Wiki - then it might be a real way to get teachers to practice using the process. I think it would be interesting to try something like Pow Wow or Sleepover through a wiki. Might cut down on grade level face time... I'd really have to think about ways K-1 students could use them... dayle

Debby Cothern said...

Wow! I do think that teachers could try this out to form agendas for meetings. It would be a great way for two departmentalized teachers to write their newsletter. I wonder if the P.T.A. could use it to sign up volunteers or even a room mom could use a wiki to coordinate the parents in a classroom. But who would know enough to do this? Hey Melanie - don't you have a couple of cuties coming to Kindergarten at Chets? Debby

Melissa Ross said...

That video clip was perfect!

Mrs. McLeod said...

Ok, love this new tool! I also love the suggestions for how we could use it at Chets. Teacher AND team meetings would be so much more effective if the agenda was on a Wiki displayed all week. People could list questions/concerns they need addressed by the group. I also think a grade level (or school wide???) Wiki for weekly newsletter ideas would be so helpful for teachers when they sit down to actually write their newsletter for the upcoming week at home or school, seeming that the Wiki is accessable anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I finally have a basic understanding of what a wiki is...hooray! I've been hearing the term for a while, but wasn't sure what it really was. Thanks for loading the video for us to watch!
:-) Elizabeth