Group I - Wikis in the classroom

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Wikis in the classroom

Wiki-Girls: B. Urselmann / S. Fahle

What is a Wiki?

derives from Wikiwiki = fast (Hawaiian) ”social software”, php-based eCMS1, requires no html-knowledge

A wiki allows users to:

  • edit pages from within a browser window
  • use a simplified markup language
  • instantly modify pages

1 eCMS= electronic Content Management System [means that the software is installed on an apache webserver (school server or one of the hundreds of free provider on the web) and that no installation on client computers is necessary]


It is a very important security aspect that it is possible to permit the access to the wiki. The administrator can set viewing and editing in a public or private status:


  • anyone (public)
  • Members only (private)


  • anyone (public)
  • Members only (private)
  • Administrators only

A wiki has three visual representations:

  • the HTML-Code page

BILD html-code.jpg einfügen!

this is the basis of a wiki and runs in the background. The HTML Code page is only interesting if the administrator wants to change the layout of the wiki

  • the editor

BILD editor.jpg einfügen!

from the user-editable code source page the server produces the HTML page (see 1))

If someone wants to create a new wiki entry, this is the 1st step to do. The user types in a text and modifies it with the buttons above. So an entry – or a part of a text – can be formatted into italics or bold, as a list or with inserted pictures. Also hyperlinks [references to other webpages] can be set. Of course, there are a lot more possibilities. Beside the editor the user can edit the text by the help of a special markup language, e.g. a text which stands inbetween two equal signs is formatted into a headline.

-> For further information read the Wiki Editing Tutorial!

If the text is finally formatted the user saves the entry and the first webpage is ready and online.

  • The webpage which is created from the HTML Code and can be viewed in a browers window

BILD page.jpg einfügen!

How to wiki?

YouTube Video "Wikis in Plain English"

This video shows the principle of a wiki but only one possible way of usage!

Why do Wikis work so well?

  • Editing in the browser, no specialized software necessary
  • Creation “on the fly”: you can link to uncreated pages
  • Chronological history (nothing is lost forever and revisions can always be undone)
  • Discussion area included (dialogue about entry changes before, during and after they are being made)
  • Monitoring (one of the most significantly features because if a particular page or an entry is monitored the administrator directly receives a notification of any changes -> errors can be corrected in a few minutes)

Wikis in the Classroom

Why Wikis in the Classroom?

What can you do with a Wiki?

Mindmap Bild einfügen!

Wikis in the classroom have advantages as well as disadvantages.


Wikis are easy to handle

Compared with other tools the wiki-technology is very simple for any kind of user:
  • You do not have to install any programms on the client computer, you only need a web browser.
  • Handling itself is rather simple. Students are usually able to start working with a wiki after 5 minutes. They learn the rest "on the job". This is can be a motivation factor, at least in the beginning.

Easy access to material for everyone

  • The students and the teacher have access to needed material at any point in time.

All users are equal

  • The teacher has no superior role. Therefore he can act rather like acoach than as a traditional teacher.

Teamwork is highly supported

  • Wikis encourage social interaction and group cooperation. They support asynchronous communication which allows users to cooperate at different times and from places that suit them. Therefore Wikis offer creative causes for language use like writing, reading, talking or listening

Wikis do not predict or restrict usage

  • Unlike other tools Wikis do not have many limits. This makes studying more flexible, because you can use almost any room with a computer for studying. Furthermore many students state that their learning is most effective when they have the opportunity to become actively involved in the construction of their knowledge. Through this wikis can get a little chaotic but on the other hand a wiki might offer possibilities you have not thought of before.


Wiki Vandalism

Wiki vandalism is the editing of a Wiki in an intentionally disruptive or destructive way. There are four main types of Wiki vandalism:
  • deletion of legitimate information
  • Zinsertion of nonsense or invalid content
  • addition of unwanted commercial links
  • violation of Wiki policies
Most public Wikis do not require any registration. Therefore anyone with a web browser can edit them and anyone with a web browser can vandalise them. The Response to vandalism varies from wiki to wiki. In most cases a vandal is blocked by username or IP address.
A possible solutions to this problems could be stringent user registration. Besides there is also the possibility to restore an older version (version control)`

Wikis As Information Sources ?

Can the information on a wiki be trusted? A current investigation has shown that Wikipedia comes close to the Britannica regarding the accuracy of its science entries. Nevertheless students should always be encouraged to look for other sources as well, to back up research with verifiable information.

Reliability of the server

If one uses an external server that provides Wiki hosting there is always the risk that it might not work when you need it.

Examples Ridgewood School (UK) - Year 10 Class (14/15 year olds) - Doug Belshaw Wiki for sharing new vocabulary for a variety of topics at Soka University of America students in Geelong, Australia build a "choose your own path" story wiki. Wiki-based webpage of the Glarnerschulen in Switzerland