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Use Wikis in the Classroom to Communicate, Collaborate, and Motivate


What is a Wiki?

wiki is a web site that allows anyone to add, delete, or revise content using a web browser.

How Does Wikispaces Support Our Vision for Technology Use?

Our vision is a technology driven personalized learning environment that results in increased student collaboration and academic performance. Wikispaces supports this vision for technology use because it

Is easy to use Allows teachers and students to gather internet resources Allows students to learn from their peers Offers students deeper engagement with the course material Allows for out-of-classroom / Asynchronous learning Is flexible and scalable

What age and grade level ranges are appropriate for using the emerging technology?
K-12. The scalability and utility is the most desirable features of a wiki. At lower grade levels wikis can be a means to gather and share internet related content and classroom resources. At upper grade levels, beginning in middle school, the collaborative aspects of wikis allow for unique classroom implementation opportunities.

What Equipment and Software are Required?

Wikispaces is entirely web based. All that is required is a device with web browser and access to the internet. Our school is already very near a 1:1 technology model through our BYOT program. Our district technology department provides excellent technical support for any hardware issues that arise.

Wikispaces provides tutorials on their home page. Here you can learn how to how to create, edit, share pages as well as how to embed rich content and other applications within pages.

What are the Limitations?

Internet access is required. There will be some who do not have internet access at home. This number is shrinking every year.

At school, the students will need to have access to an internetaccessible device. There will be occasions when students will not have access because they either dont have their own device, or the mobile lap top carts, computer labs, and classroom computers are maxed out.
Since students have the ability to post their own content, there could be some safety issues involved. Wikispaces allows creators to tightly control permissions and lists all recent changes. Monitoring who does what and when is very simple.

How Much Does it Cost?

Wikispaces Classroom is free for k-12 educators. During the registration process teachers check a box to certify that their wiki will be used for education.

Teachers can bulk enroll up to 100 students. Students then receive each students own log in ID and Password.
There is an upgradeable version beyond the Basic subscription service. The extra features are bells and whistles. The basic version offers all the features users would need for a quality wiki experience. Between our district BYOT and computers already in our schools, cost is not a factor.

What are Some Potential Funding Sources?

The district is taking measures to address the lack of internet access among some segments of the population. Though the majority of the 40,500 students in the school district have Internet access at home, there are about 7,000 who dont. The effort aims to address the broadband access gap between school and home. Through fundraising efforts and local business grants the district has recently purchased portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices to be strategically positioned in needed areas.

How Can Wikispaces Be Used in the Classroom?

To meet content and technology standards. To promote student learning

To differentiate instruction
To promote communication among students, parents, and the community

Content and Technology Standards

Students can

Create electronic portfolios

Create study guides

Create dynamic journals Create notebooks

Aggregate resources to be used for projects

Promote Student Learning

Students can generate their own knowledge by creating, communicating, and collaborating. Students can participate in authentic learning tasks with members of the community and experts outside the school. Through peer editing and teacher feedback students can receive supportive writing instruction. A wiki is ideally suited for project based learning where students use critical thinking skills to work within teams to locate, analyze, synthesize, information to find answers to problems and share their findings.

Teachers can easily use Wikispaces to differentiate content through: Accelerated Coverage of Material Varied Supplementary Materials

Varied Graphic Organizers

Independent Study Tiered Assignments Interest Development Centers Compacting This list is scratching the surface of how wikis can be used to differentiate. There are probably ways to use Wikis to help special needs learners that have not even been thought of yet.

Differentiation, contd
The utility of wikis makes differentiation easy. Teachers who have their own class wiki can easily load content onto the page and assign the work on an as needed basis, for enrichment or remediation. The collaborative aspect of wikis offer teachers an effective way to differentiate for special needs students. Teachers can pair these students with their on-level, or advanced classmates and use peer editing to help struggling writers. Project based learning can be modified easily in both content and process. Teachers can easily scaffold the content and allow students to progress at their own pace.

What Does the Research Suggest About Wikis?

Research suggests that wikis are being used quite frequently and in different ways, but their effectiveness on student learning has not been adequately studied. Overall, there is a shortage of empirical data regarding their effectiveness on student learning. (OBannon, 2012)

How Should Wikis be Implemented into the Classroom?

Teachers will need to be trained on the use of wikis as an effective technology tool for use in the classroom. Wikispaces offers a plethora of tutorials on everything from registering for the site, adding pages, creating content, and setting permissions. Teachers should be able to train themselves and quickly implemented during daily planning time.

Novice teachers can join the wiki pages of teachers already adept at using Wikispaces.
Teachers should be encouraged to use wikis in creative and intuitive ways.

Ive become an advocate of classroom wikis over the last few months. I like Wikispaces in particular because of their free hosting for K-12 teachers; and the simplicity of their WYSIWYG editing makes the technology easy to use, even for novice computer users. In my classroom Ive used wikis in two ways: as a classroom content manager and as a platform for project based learning. My students use their BYOT device every day to log onto the classroom wiki, on which they will see their reading assignments, discussions, and projects. My students also have their own wiki accounts. I have assigned wiki projects, and my students have produced outstanding work. They are motivated and engaged in the learning process. So, even though the research about wiki effectiveness is inconclusive, Im a big fan.

Heafner, T. L., & Friedman, A. M. (2008). Wikis and constructivism in secondary social studies: Fostering a deeper understanding. Computers in the Schools, 25(34), 288302 O'Bannon, B. W., & Britt, V. G. (2012). Creating/developing/using a wiki study guide: effects on student achievement.(Report) Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, (4), 293