Wikis for Learning and Teaching

wikiart.pngWikis are websites which provide tools to allow collaborative knowledge creation. They include editing tools which allow groups of people to co-create content, and versioning/history tools which document each change and all users contributions to a page.

Wikis are used extensively in education across all sectors. For example - we are using a wiki to provide resources to support this course!

This section is designed to provide an overview of Wikis and how they can be used to enhance learning and teaching. It includes the following information:

  1. What is a wiki?
  2. Wikis: Features and Functionality
  3. The Benefits of Wikis for Education
  4. Which Wiki Tool?
  5. SWSI's Wikispaces Platform
  6. Video: Wikis in University Teaching and Learning
  7. Examples: Wikis @ TAFENSW
  8. Examples: Open Education Wikis
  9. Find Out More About Wikis
  10. What Next?

Activities for this topic

Learners who are completing the Social Networking Course should refer to the Moodle site for more information about the activities provided:

1. What is a wiki?

In their purest form, wikis are webpages or sites that can be viewed and modified by anybody with a web browser and access to the internet. The worlds most famous wiki - the Wikipedia defines them as:

"Wiki" (/wiːkiː/) is a Hawaiian word for "fast". A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language.Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis."

(Sourced from: Wikipedia: Wiki -, viewed 10 June, 2010)

The first wiki software was developed by Ward Cunningham in 1994, and was designed to be the 'the simplest online database that could possibly work'. The first ever wiki site was created for the Portland Pattern Repository in 1995 and now hosts thousands of pages. Since then a wide range of different wiki platforms have been developed both in the commercial and open-source software sectors.

Watch Wikis in plain English video by Commoncraft which provides a great overview of how wikis can be used by groups of collaborators to create knowledge and share information.

Can you think of ways that you could use wikis for similar collaborations? Would they be useful with your students?

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2. Wikis: Features, Functionality and Uses

wikiexamples.jpgWikis are designed to allow groups of users to collaborate effectively across geographic locations. Although there are many different wiki platforms to choose from, they usually include features which enable the following types of knowledge sharing activities:
  • collaborative document writing
  • joint construction of knowledge
  • constant revision and document history tools
  • editable content that grows/evolves over time
  • can have any number of authors
  • enables emergent voices - an agglomeration of the input of the community
  • of users who are interested in the content being created.

Wikis can be used to create a range of different types of sites, repositories and resources including:
  • event planning and project management
  • brainstorming
  • list making
  • portfolios
  • how to guides
  • resource sites
  • glossaries
  • manuals
  • knowledge repository
  • database.

Reference: Adapted from TELT UNSW 2010,, Accessed 10 June, 2010.

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3. The Benefits of Wikis for Education

Wikis are one of the simplest, and also the most widely used online learning tools in education. They provide a simple set of tools which allow for immediate editing of a site's content. Additionally, the history and versioning tools built into wiki platforms allow collaborators to track the development and evolution of thought processes, ideas and concepts; and promote 'pride of authorship' and ownership of the collaborative process by students.

Wikis can be used for a range of different educational projects and purposes including:
  • creating a course wiki with navigation arranged by student name (each student has a page/ pages to develop)
  • course wiki with navigation arranged by topic/theme
  • course wiki with navigation arranged by weekly content
  • course glossary - arranged alphabetically
  • small group project wikis
  • practicum planning wikis
  • database of good practice
  • housing of policies and procedures.

(Reference: Adapted from TELT UNSW 2010,, Accessed 10 June, 2010.)

For additional ideas, check out the 'Eleven Interesting Ways to Use a Wiki in the classroom' slides posted here, and explore the following links:

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4. Which Wiki Tool?

wikiwiki.jpgThere are a range of different wiki tools and platforms to choose from - from free tools you can signup to use online to opensource wiki platforms which can be run on personal or enterprise servers. You can even get wiki software that will run from a flash drive!

For further information and comparisons of popular wiki tools and platforms, check out the following links:

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5. SWSI's Wikispaces Platform

swsiPiescreenie.jpgSWSI staff also have the option of creating a wiki for use with their colleagues or students on the SWSI Wikispaces platform, which provides access to a secure, simple set of tools for learning and teaching. SWSI Wikispaces are a place to collaborate and share teaching, learning and assessment resources and methods. They are also a place where you can engage students in interesting content and collaborative activities.

SWSI Wikispaces are designed to provide the following types of learning spaces:
  • Protected - Everyone can view pages, only members of this space can edit pages - can be used for section wikis or for promotional purposes
  • Private - You may instead require users to sign in - must be used for all Class Wikis and any wiki containing student details

To apply for a SWSI Wikispace please read the Terms of Use , which set out the relevent policies and procedures and then complete the SWSI Wiki Application Form . For further information, contact the Innovation and Technology Enhanced Learning Unit .

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6. Video: Wikis in University Teaching and Learning - Richard Buckland UNSW

The video lecture below provides a great overview of wikis and how they can be used for learning and teaching in tertiary education and demonstrates how they can be used effectively with large groups of students.

Can you think of ways to apply these strategies in your own teaching practice?

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7. Examples: Wikis @ TAFENSW

Wikispaces is used extensively across most Institutes within TAFENSW to provide collaboration spaces for staff and students - including SWSI Wikispaces which you are probably already be familiar with!

You can view a Register of TAFE NSW Wikispaces being created at Riverina Institute, Sydney Institute, Western Sydney Institute and South Western Sydney Institute. It has been arranged via Industry areas and is designed to assist staff and students from across all TAFE NSW Institutes to share resources and information. The RSS feed included here to provides links to thethe latest wikis that have been created.

The TAFENSW Wikispaces Register is designed to provide a directory that TAFE teachers and facilitators can use to locate colleagues who are teaching in similar subject areas, and provides a fantastic way to collaborate, both within our own Institute and across all Institutes. Explore it to find resources and collaborators!

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8. Examples: Open Education Wikis

wikiversityscreenie.jpgOpen educational resources (OER) are learning materials that are published online and made available for resuse, remixing and sharing. They include:
  • Learning content: full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals.
  • Tools: Software to support the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and on-line learning communities.
  • Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

(Sourced from: Wikipedia: Open Educational Resources, accessed 10 June 2010,

Open Education Wikis provide fantastic content you can remix and reuse with your own students, and opportunities for collaboration and peer-to-peer professional development between educators. There are several global wikis designed to support Open Educational Resources, including WikiEducator and Wikiversity . These sites provide a wiki environment for publication of learning resources, and also support communication and collaboration between educators across system and geographic locations.

There is lots of fantastic content to explore. Check out the following links from Wikiversity:

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9. Find Out More About Wikis

The following links provide additional information on using wikis in education. Explore them to find out more!

General Information about Wikis

Using Wikis in Education

Wikis: How-To Guides

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10. What Next?

  1. If you are completing the Social Networking Course, visit the Moodle site and complete the activities for Topic 8: Wikis in Education .
  2. Check out the next section of the SWSI Social Networking Wiki - Blogs for Learning and Teaching .
  3. If you are exploring Social Networking independently, check out the Social Networking Matrix and select the tools that will be using in your teaching practice.

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