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What's a Wiki?

You are probably all familiar with the most famous wiki environment, Wikipedia. You may even have used Wikipedia to do research for a previous assignment. But, do you know how to create a wiki yourself or what wikis are useful for?

A Wiki is a collaborative editing environment that allows you to do many useful things, such as create a web page, collaborate around a student project (such as this one) add comments to someone's page, post pictures, post video, post links to documents or audio files, etc.

Wiki Trivia - Did You Know

  • The word Wiki is Hawaiian for fast?
  • In Honolulu, the WikiWiki is the name for the airport shuttlebus?

Using a Wiki at Tufts

UIT-AT is supporting a university-wide wiki service for all Tufts faculty, staff, and students through the Spark tools site.

  • Log-in using your Tufts UTLN and your email password
  • Select the Create Wiki button to quickly set up a wiki account

For more information, contact Hannah Reeves, Academic Technologies, Instructional Design and Technology Specialist
Phone: 617.627.0387

Reasons to Use a Wiki

Collaborative Writing
Wiki software is specifically designed to support collaborative writing, editing and peer review and feedback. All edits to a wiki are saved and retrievable through its history function. This plus the page printing options assist faculty and student writers to track drafts of writing over time. This vastly simplifies the process of groups working on a project where they all contribute to the writing. Permissions for access, writing, and editing can be set to be restricted to various class groups or open to the world.

Collaborative Knowledgebase
Beginning with the first wikis in the mid-1990s, one of the most popular uses of this software is to create collaborative, dynamic knowledgebases. Scientists and engineers led the way of contributing and editing content "on the fly", according to the ELI article
7 things you should know about...Wikis. However, higher education communities quickly picked up on the ease with which wikis can support projects that add knowledge year after year to a growing collection of information and resources.

Research Coordination and Collaboration
Research-oriented wikis allow students and faculty internally and externally to share results, resources, ideas, and information through a growing, easily modified web site.

Student Journaling
Students can share personal reflections on their internships, study abroad, understanding of course concepts, or professional work experiences through a wiki.

Creating a Community of Practice
Bowdoin Romantic Poetry classes "developed a genuine sense of community" through the use of their course wiki. Students critiqued each other's analysis of lines of poetry, "raced to be the first to create links" for search terms, expanded each other's pages, and began referring to each other in class according to their "wiki user name."

Improving Student Writing
Student writing becomes more self-aware and direct according the faculty who have used wikis for this purpose. Peer review is also made easier with the ease of adding comments to wiki pages or embedding comments in the text. Because wiki software saves each revision separately in history index, the original version of the student's writing is never lost.

The ease with which users can attach media and documents, create and link new web pages and organize different sections of a wiki have led faculty, staff, and students to adopt this tool for creating personal electronic portfolios. Also see ePortfolios.

Course Management Systems
Although CMSs such as Blackboard have become one of the most ubiquitous tools faculty use for their students to access online content and communication, the sites are usually password protected and thus not easily available beyond the university domain. For those faculty wishing to "open up" the course site to a global audience beyond the university domain and to provide access to the resources of the course to students beyond the end of the course, wikis seem like a natural next step.

Examples of Use

The Romantic Audience Project 1  and The Romantic Audience Project 2
The University of British Columbia's HealthLib-Wiki
The Social Software/Web 2.0 Technologies Research Project Wiki
The Science Environment for Ecological Knowledge (SEEK) wiki
Allison Wong's examples of a wiki eportfolio described in her blog
USC Picturing Paradise wiki
Harvard University Statistics Department Wiki
Official Stanford Wiki
USC Social Software Project Wiki

Resources for Learning More

UIT-AT Projects

Romantic Poetry Meets 21st-Century Technology

Wikipedia Entry: Wiki

7 things you should know about...Wikis

USC Confluence: A Campus-Wide Academic Wiki

Romantic Poetry Meets 21st-Century Technology

Uses and Potentials of Wikis in the Classroom
You will need a free Innovate account to read the full article.

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