How to Collaborate Online the Wiki Way

Education & Technology

The Wiki Way
A wiki is similar to a website, but with a difference. A wiki allows its members to co-edit a wiki page. In Hawaiian, wiki means quick. The developer behind the wiki was Ward Cunningham. Ward started the Wiki Wiki Web.

Currently, Wikipedia is probably the most popular public wiki. Other wiki websites include: Wikispaces, PBworks, Wetpaint and Wikieducator. Anyone can start a wiki page and/or edit if they have the knowledge and desire to share what they know. It takes a caring person to wake up one morning and decide to share information.

Open to Collaboration
The wiki way may not suit everyone. A wiki website allows its members to edit each other’s written work. Having a trusting attitude is important for collaborative learning. Not everyone is able to allow others to edit their work. In some cases, editing means deleting and changing the information completely. However, working together has many benefits, too.

The benefits of collaboration over working alone outweigh the discomfort that some may feel at the beginning. Working together allows for  improved efficiency and effectiveness. Studies have shown an increase in improved learning, creativity and critical thinking as a result of engaging with others. The energy of collaborative work results in richer by products.

Watch the following YouTube video recording of the first webinar on Wikis conducted on WizIQ education online.

Create a Wiki Site
You can create your very own wiki site with the following sites:

  • WikiSpaces
  • PBWorks
  • Wetpaint
  • Google Wiki Website

Wikispaces for Classes
Wikispaces began in 2005. The wiki offers educators and organizations the opportunity to share and learn together. Wikispaces providing teachers with a free online classroom or workspace where teachers and students can communicate and work on written projects alone or in teams.  Students and teachers can co-edit pages using text, images, audio, and video.

PBWorks for Collaborative Learning
PBworks invites educators for “online team collaboration to get work done” so they can “capture knowledge, share files, and manage projects within a secure, reliable environment”.

WetPaint to Create a Wiki Website
Join me in integrating technology wiki and let’s collaborate on ways to integrate technology for instruction and learning.

Google Wiki Website
Google offers a wiki website. You can create your very own wiki site very easily using google.

You can create pages of your own on Wikieducator. I joined Wikieducator in 2007. I was so impressed with the wiki that I soon became a member of the committee and admin. I was so fascinated by the collaborative opportunities available on the wiki, that I started facilitating workshops on how to create Open Education Resources (OER) to educators worldwide called Learning4Content.

Participants of L4C learned how to co-edit wiki pages and collaborate to create learning resources. I highly recommend getting an account and taking the next L4C workshop. I also integrated Wikieducator and WizIQ by giving live online classes on how to wiki on WizIQ.


Learning Happens with Technology
Learning happens as circumstances take us from one content area to the next. One piece of knowledge leads to another. Learning together makes the process of learning engaging and meaningful. Technology offers opportunities to reach a wider audience for collaborative learning. Teachers can model what their students are already doing by learning to use technology for communication.

Learn to Teach with Technology
I facilitate a free online teacher development course called Learn to Blend and Flip with Technology on WizIQ. The live online classes of the course focus on teaching with technology in fully online, blended and/or the flipped class with tools that facilitate instruction and learning. Each month the live classes focus on a specific educational technology topic. The topic for May 2014 is Wikis for Collaborative Learning.

You’re invited to join Learn to Blend and Flip with Technology free online course. Certificates are awarded for those who qualify at the end of the course in June 2014.

Research on Wikis
Research on wikis is still emerging; here we’ll provide a brief annotate bibliography of recent articles:

  • Bold, M. (2006). Use of wikis in graduate course work. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 17(1), 5-14.In the “Use of Wikis in Graduate Course Work,” the researcher evaluates wikis as a viable tool for collaborative work.  Bold cites benefits of wikis including ease of collaboration (“A collaborative workspace that can display documents immediately, with a minimal working knowledge of HTML tags”) and ease of use (“wikis require little to no institutional support, financial or technical”). Further,  Bold believes wikis don’t just help the student learn the curriculum better, but they help the student learn how to improve their skills in online interaction.
  • Deters, F. Cuthrell, K., & Stapleton, J. (2010). Why Wikis? Student Perceptions of Using Wikis in Online Coursework. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(1).
    Elementary education professors at a large southeastern College of Education conducted a study for the purpose of exploring student perceptions regarding the use of wikis in online instruction and potential uses for wikis in the K-12 classroom as perceived by respondents. Participants in the study were 40 students enrolled in 1 of 3 graduate level social studies methods courses. Data were collected using surveys and written reflections. Though students reported initial hesitation at learning a new technology, their overall experience using the wikis was positive. The students felt that wikis were a great collaboration tool. Principle themes that emerged from the data were the potential uses of wikis as instructional tools, potential uses for information dissemination, benefits or advantages to using wikis, and limitations regarding the use of wikis. The authors provide a list of questions developed as a result of the study that, when used prior to implementing wikis as a learning tool, will minimize the limitations associated with their use.
  • Elgort, I., Smith, A. G., & Toland, J. (2008). Is wiki an effective platform for group course work?Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(2), 195-21.
    This study reports on students’ and lecturers’ perceptions of using wikis as a platform for conducting assessed group projects in two postgraduate Master’s level university courses. The results highlight the fact that student attitudes to group work, in general, are mixed, and that the use of wikis per se is not enough to improve these attitudes. On the positive side, students found wikis useful for arranging information and sharing knowledge, while instructors thought wikis made managing and marking group work easier  and  more  effective.  Other  issues  related  to  using  wikis  as  a  collaborative learning tool in higher education are also considered.
  • Ioannou, A. and ARtino, A. (2009). Wiki and Threaded Discussion for Online Collaborative Activities:  Students’ Perceptions and Use. Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence, 1(1), 97-106.
    Researchers used a wiki with 15 graduate students in an online course. Students worked on two different group activities, first using the threaded discussion feature and then using the wiki. The researchers then investigated students’ attitudes about their experience, as well as differences in their processes, after using each technology. The findings suggest that there are clear benefits and limitations inherent to both technologies. The threaded discussion tool was preferred, yet students recognized the potential of the wiki to support collaboration. Practical implications and future directions are discussed, including the need for instructors to support and encourage discussion as a complement to wiki writing, scaffold and model the use of wikis, and create sufficiently complex group tasks to help make wiki use attractive and appropriate.

Image courtesy: Creative Education UK

Dr. Nellie Deutsch

Dr. Nellie Deutsch is an education technology and curriculum consultant, faculty at Atlantic University in the MA transpersonal and leadership studies, teacher trainer, researcher, and writer. She organizes Moodle MOOCs and online conferences. She earned her doctorate in education and educational leadership with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix Her dissertation research (available on ProQuest & Amazon) focused on instructor experiences with integrating technology in blended learning contexts in higher education around the world. Nellie offers free teacher training courses on teaching with technology, action research and Moodle for teacher courses to new, veteran, and future teachers who wish to teach online, face-to-face or in blended learning formats. She also provides online courses to teachers and ICT people on how to be administrators of Moodle websites. She integrates Moodle and WizIQ live virtual classes in all her courses.

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