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USING WIKIS IN HIGH SCHOOL



Overview

According to wikipedia, a wiki is a website that allows users to collaborate in editing the site from any web browser. Wikis allow different levels of access depending on what the wiki creator decides. For example, with some wikis all users that find the page may have permission to edit the content while users may have to be invited to edit other wikis. The collaborative nature, ease of editing and oversight allowed by teachers are several of the benefits to implementing wikis in a high school classroom. Teachers may have to overcome several obstacles when using wikis in high school, but the benefits should outweigh those obstacles. In fact, there are many examples of wikis created by high school students already in existence.

Collaboration

There are many options for implementing wikis in a high school classroom, most of which require a collaborative effort. Students can work collaboratively using wikis to solve a problem, conduct research, write, collect information, critique, evaluate, review, and/or design. The collaborative nature and options available make using wikis an intriguing option for any high school teacher. According to Wiki World, wikis are popular for high school teachers because they activate students higher-level thinking skills.

Ease of Editing

With a simple click of the edit button, wikis can be changed, updated, and/or deleted. If changes aren't acceptable, the history function can be used to restore previous versions. In Will Richardson's book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (2006) he explains how events can be documented with great ease almost immediately in a wiki, such as the tsunami of 2004, whose original 76-word Wikipedia entry grew within 48 hours to include graphics, video, and over 6500 words. According to Audrey Watters, wikis are transparent, allow for easy file sharing, and require no additional software to use.

Teacher Oversight

Although technology allows for students to be responsible for their own learning, teachers must still be the facilitator in some capacity. According to How To Use Wiki In The Classroom, Teachers need to establish the objectives and purpose of a class Wiki and build the site so that students can understand the content they need to master. By giving students more control over a project’s outcome, the teacher is encouraging them to be producers, rather than just consumers, of information. This reversal of roles ultimately helps student master content.

Obstacles
As with most teaching methods, there are several concerns when implementing wikis in a high school classroom. According to, Wikis: Pulling it All Together Online,
a major concern is that students control what they post and once they hit submit, that content may be seen by others. Another issue that any high school teacher is aware of is that student work distribution in any collaborative effort may not be even. Some students may spend significantly more time editing a wiki than their peers. While obstacles to implementing wiki's in the high school classroom do exist, teachers can minimize those obstacles. For example, teachers can be notified when pages are updated on their wiki and monitor those changes to ensure student content is appropriate. Also, by creating detailed rubrics and tracking student time spent on each project (something many wikis do), teachers can help to evenly distribute group work.

References

  • McCrea, Bridget. "THE News Update." Wikis: Pulling It All Together Online. The Journal, 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
  • Pappas, Christophe. "How To Use Wiki In The Classroom - ELearning Industry." ELearning Industry RSS. ELearning Industry, 06 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
  • Richardson, Will. (2006). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
  • Watters, Audrey. "Why Wikis Still Matter". Edutopia, 18 Oct. 2011. Web, 23 Mar. 2016.
  • "Wiki." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2016
  • "Wikis Projects." Wiki World: Collaborative Learning Through Technology. Wiki World, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.