Monday, July 28, 2008

Wikis in Education

At the end of most school years, teachers sometimes have some flexibility in their schedules. Required content has been covered, so we have a chance to be a little more creative in our teaching. We also have the responsibility of covering state standards while keeping our students engaged in learning when summer is quickly approaching. By exposing students to new and exciting educational tools, we can accomplish both goals at once. At the end of the 07/08 school year, I chose to approach this task by having my 2nd graders create a wiki.

You may be wondering what a wiki is. A wiki is a set of webpages that can be controlled by multiple users. The wiki content can be modified by anyone given permission using a web browser. The now infamous Wikipedia has countless examples of wikis created by a collaborate team of contributors. I was first introduced to wikis last summer at the Florida Digital Educator Institute. We learned about two ways that wikis can be used:

1. Teacher created wikis - Teachers post content on the wiki for students to use for projects and assignments. My group made a wiki last summer for use during a Native American Unit - this was our first attempts, so don't judge too harshly! Hopefully, this might help you see how a teacher made wiki could be used in your classroom. Check out the Sidebar by clicking the tab on the right side of the page for more links.

2. Student created wikis - Students use a wiki as a collaboration tool, communication tool, or as a presentation tool for assignments and projects. I had wanted to try this one out all year, but wasn't able to find time until May. Luckily, we had covered our required science and social studies standards with a couple weeks left in the school year, so I was finally able to fit this in. My students researched healthy living choices as part of a PBL unit on what it means to be healthy. Using this information, they create a wiki, called Healthy Choices Healthy Kids. The content you see on these pages was created totally by the students. By the end of the unit, they were so proud of what they had created that they convinced me to let them share it with other classrooms in the school. The best part was when a 4th grade student made a comment that he couldn't have done this when he was in 2nd grade! Talk about making their day:)

As I said in an earlier post about blogging, wikis can also be used in numerous ways in the educational setting. Again, I also feel that giving students the chance to create their own is my favorite use of this technology tool, as it supports higher order thinking skills and gives them a chance to be in control of their learning.

Here are some more examples of wikis made for education:

A Sixth Grade Class Responding to Literature
Project Challenge - A First Grade Classroom Wiki
Second and Third Graders Using a Wiki to Communicate with the World
A Wiki Newspaper for a Middle School

Interested in learning more? Check out this information from Teachers First.

1 comment:

Lori Feldman said...

Thank you for putting the topic in "Plain English". Sometimes we get lost in jargon which causes us to avoid using new resources.