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Friday, November 30, 2007

Online Student Collaboration (Wiki Q&A)











A year or two ago reports in the media of rampant misinformation on Wikipedia damaged the good news about Wikis. If you're still operating from the point of view that Wiki's are bad, you could be missing the boat.

A Wiki is great way for students to collaborate. Wiki's come in many varieties. PB Wiki offers many free benefits to educators that they charge for-profit corporations to use (their list of corporate clients includes CitiBank and Cisco Systems). I have had my students try a variety of Wiki programs and PB Wiki was by far the most student-user friendly. In a matter of minutes a class of 17 students was collaborating on making a comparison of cultures chart.


A quick list of PB Wiki features:
Add pictures.
Add links between Wiki pages or to external websites.
Embedding of Video.

How much time does it take a teacher to set up a PB Wiki to use with students? Less than five minutes.
1. Create an account (1 minute)
2. Select a name for Wiki and an html address for the Wiki. In most cases you can make address for your Wiki the same as the name of your Wiki. For example one of the Wikis I made (I've since deleted it) was named "9th social studies" and the html address was http://9thsocialstudies.pbwiki.com. (2 minutes)
3. Select a color scheme for your wiki. PB Wiki provides five free choices. (1 minute)
4. You're ready to start having students collaborate.

How much time does it take students to get started? 1 minute (assuming they already have an email address).
1. Student types in the web address of the Wiki. (30 seconds)
2. Student clicks "edit" (10 seconds).
3. Student enters name and email address. (20 seconds).
4. Student is now editing the wiki page.

How many pages can your Wiki have?
1. It seems that the number of pages a wiki can have is unlimited. I've created over 50 pages for the Wiki I'm currently using with students. I teach four sections of the same class and each class has a different page for each assignment.

Other free Wiki options:
Wikispaces.com
Wetpaint.com
Wikidot.com




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