A wiki is a collection of collaboratively authored web documents. Basically, a wiki page is a web page everyone in your class can create together, right in the browser, without needing to know HTML. A wiki starts with one front page. Each author can add other pages to the wiki by simply creating a link to a page that doesn't exist yet.
Wikis get their name from the Hawaiian term "wiki wiki," which means "very fast." A wiki is indeed a fast method for creating content as a group. It's a hugely popular format on the Web for creating documents as a group. There is usually no central editor of a wiki, no single person who has final editorial control. Instead, the community edits and develops it's own content. Consensus views emerge from the work of many people on a document.
Moodle's wiki is built on top of an older wiki system called Erfurt wiki http://erfurtwiki.sourceforge.net.
In Moodle, wikis can be a powerful tool for collaborative work. The entire class can edit a document together, creating a class product, or each student can have their own wiki and work on it with you and their classmates.
Tips and tricks
- We have course filled with resources and a wiki devoted to equipment located in several remote classrooms, as an aid to instructors. I created my own page that has links to equipment and process pages that I use all the time in giving directions. The front page is organized differently than my page.
- A useful way of to start a wiki, is to think of the front page as a structured table of contents. Essentially a wiki is organized by its links.
Creative Wiki practices
The free-form, collaborative nature of wikis makes them easy to apply in creative ways. Any sort of group process can be facilitated using a wiki.
Group lecture notes
Usually, lecture notes are a solitary activity. But one person can easily miss an important point during a lecture through either daydreaming or trying to understand a prior point. Students also have difficulty deciding what information is important and what is elaboration or example. Creating a wiki for group lecture notes after a lecture gives students a chance to combine all their notes. Those that missed information can get it from their peers. The group can also decide what information is critical and give it proper emphasis. Group lecture notes could be done with the entire class, if it is small enough, or with small working groups. Groups can also compare notes for further discussion and refinement.
Group Project management
The most straightforward use of a wiki is as a tool for group collaboration for creating group projects. If you assign a group project, give your students a place to work by creating a wiki with the group mode enabled. This will give each group their own space to record their research, create outlines and even create the final product. You may even want to create a submission date where you turn off editing capabilities for students and then grade the final projects. Afterwards, consider enabling visible groups so everyone can see each others’ work.
Brainstorming is a creative process in which ideas are elicited from a group of people. In a face-to-face meeting, a brainstorming facilitator will usually stand in front of a big piece of paper and elicit ideas from the participants in the room. You can use a wiki to create an online version of this process. Set up a wiki for the entire class, or for student groups, and ask people to submit ideas around a brainstorming topic. People can add ideas as they occur and link to other pages for elaboration.
Contribute to other wikis
Consider assigning your class the task of contributing to Wikipedia, or to another wiki on the Web, on a topic in your class. Assign your students to groups (or make it a class project if the class is small enough and the topic broad enough) and challenge them to collaboratively create an article they would feel confident posting to a public-information space. Your students will use the course wiki to create drafts of the article they will publish to the community at the end of the semester.
This type of assignment has a number of benefits:
- It gives students additional motivation to do their best since they know their work will be viewed and critiqued by the public instead of just their instructor.
- It can act as a summarizing activity for an entire semester’s worth of material.
- Students will know their work will be used by other people, not just graded and filed away.