A wiki is a type of website that allows the users to contribute and change the information it contains. Users are able to collaborate to produce the information that is posted and link to other information, documents and websites. Users can quickly add, remove and edit the content. As wikis are collaborative in nature they lend themselves to group projects, where different individuals have to contribute different pieces of work to produce a final task. Watch a video that helps explains the concept of wikis (opens in a new window).
When am I likely to use a Wiki with students?
- To support a group project or help students present the final outcome of a project.
- To encourage the collaborative creation of an online resource on a topic or theme.
- To help collect and present information as part of a research task.
- To encourage collaborative discussion, analysis or reflection on a topic or theme.
What are the advantages of Wikis?
Wikis provide a quick and easy way to manage and share information. They can be used to facilitate more effective group work.
They have advantages over other methods:
- Provide a central place for groups to collaborate online.
- Enables files and thoughts to be accessed anywhere.
- Easy to use with minimum instruction and without having any technical knowledge
- Many students make more valuable contributions as they know it is read by their peers and widely available online.
- Allows you to see the history of the document and you can judge each student’s contribution.
- They help to develop skills in researching, negotiating and producing content collaboratively.
- They provide an opportunity to evaluate others contributions
- They are useful for projects with short deadlines.
How to use a Wiki successfully
Successful wikis need all its members to make contributions. Other people will be able to read what has been written and make changes to it. It is important to realise that ideas and comments which are added to the wiki may be changed by others. It is in this way that information is refined and developed into the ideas of the group as a whole.
Tips to give students to help improve their success and contribution to a Wiki
- Use the wiki as the primary means of communication for an assigned task. It is more efficient than emailing.
- Use comments to discuss with others their content before you edit it yourself.
- Keep the contributions to the wiki organised.
- Ensure any additional pages which are created as part of the wiki are linked to and easily found.
- Regularly review the wiki to evaluate other contributions and keep track of the changes which are occurring.
- If the tutor does not allocate group roles for the task you may find it useful to allocate roles.
How do I create Wikis for students?
Wikis are easy to setup and manage and are now part of the tools available through Queen’s Online II. Alternatively, there are a number of providers of free wikis which can be used for academic purposes. They are simple and secure to use and allow access to them to be open or restricted to an invited group of users. PBworks has been successfully used by different schools in the university to support group work.
- 7 things you should know about Wikis (2005) (PDF, 81 KB)
- The good, the bad and the wiki (2008) (PDF, 65KB)
- Uses and Potentials of Wikis in the Classroom (2006) (PDF, 43KB)
- Wide open spaces: Wikis, ready or not (2004) (PDF, 502KB)
- Using Wikis to Support Teaching in Queen's - Reflections Magazine 2009 (PDF, 3MB)
Case Studies on using wikis in Queen's University
- Using wikis to support group work in Biosciences (PDF, 88KB)
Help and Advice
Contact Gill Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.