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Using Wikis

 Quick Links to Each Section below:

What are Wikis?

wiki is a website that allows edits to content by any user via any browser. Ward Cunningham used the word wiki (the Hawaiian word meaning quick) to name the collaborative tool he developed for use on the Internet in 1994. Wikis are organised by content an edit trail built-in and inadvertent deletes can be salvaged, papers uploaded to a wiki can be edited by any of the authors at any time from any location perhaps the most famous and commonly used wiki is Wikipedia, ( which is an online editable encyclopedia.

Wiki spaces are usually free and straightforward to use and give students ownership of their collaborative learning experience whether in a face to face course or fully online module you can use wikis for your students to organise a group-work activity,  whether to share data or on-site notes, create a photo journal or plan a project wikis offer  versatile collaborative teaching and learning,  wikis are seen as being to be more permanent and serious than blogs and could serve as repositories of knowledge.

Using Wikis


Wikis are a great way to get students to learn by doing rather than by teachers telling them information. The medium works most efficiently when students can assert meaningful autonomy over the process.

Wikis are a good tool to use to get students interacting in a peer-learning environment which is asynchronous.

Its real power lies in the fact that groups can collaboratively work on the content of the site using nothing but a standard web browser Online content creation is able to proceed rapidly with contributions from every member of the unit rather than from a handful of Web authors.

Tutors can keep track of the history of a document as it is revised each time a person makes changes to a wiki page, that revision of the content becomes the current version and an older version is stored, versions of the document can be compared side-by-side and edits can be rolled back if necessary.

Wikis are best used for the construction of collaboratively authored documents, Where learners and peers are committed to achieving the same goals they tend to regulate each other’s performance a positive outcome that can be facilitated through the use of shared digital learning environments.

They work best when everyone has something to gain from the finished resource - the general principle being if everyone contributes a little they all benefit from the overall collaborative finished resource.

If you have students who you think will have trouble using a wiki provide some training or some training notes and also put a page on the wiki for people to practice editing with some dummy information in it – call it the sandbox or something similar. Clear this out or reset every now and again.

They do not take long to set up - but it is important to build a basic infrastructure into them to guide the contributions into a general shape, if it is left blank students may find it too hard to get started.

Easily create simple websites: The wiki provides a ready-to-use site with a simple user interface where you have the ability to easily add pages and a simple navigation structure. This allows students to spend more time developing the content of the site, instead of trying to learn how to make one.

Project development with peer reviewA wiki makes it easy for students to write, revise and submit an assignment since all three activities can take place in the wiki. This allows the teacher and peers to see the evolution of the paper over time and continually comment on it, rather than offering comments only on the final draft. When the student completes the final draft, the teacher and peers can read it on the wiki and offer feedback.

Group authoring: Often groups collaborate on a document by pushing it out to each member - emailing a file that each person edits on his or her computer and some attempt is made to coordinate the edits so everyone’s work is equally represented.

Track a group project: Considering students’ busy schedules, a wiki is very useful for tracking and completing group projects. It allows group members to track their research and ideas from anywhere they have internet access. It helps them save time by seeing what sources others have already checked, which then gives them a central place to collectively prepare the final product.

 Assigning Roles:


Assigning specific roles to students which might also help to ease students into the use of a wiki the role might be assigned with the understanding that these students are still free to contribute to the wiki in any of the other roles outlined, a few examples might be:

 Innovators: Find new ideas that relate to the topic and include those ideas in the wiki.

 Debaters: Challenge the information presented in the new ideas through discussion in order to help legitimise or debunk new information.

 Researchers: Look at connections between the wiki content that has been created and provide links to research that discusses that content, check that the facts that have been included in the wiki are correct.

 Protectors: Stop spammers or editing that detract from the content being created, and check for plagiarism in order to protect the integrity of the wiki.

 Editors: Formatting the text so that it is more appealing (i.e. bold, italics, font size) Correcting spelling and grammar errors in the text.

 Assigning Tasks:

Another way you can help students to engage in the wiki is by assigning a task list to students, examples include:


 Fact-Checking and Plagiarism

 Linking the Wiki

 Create New Content

 Case Study  

 Task: To build a History of Empire encyclopedia resource using a wiki.

Learning objectives for the class: to build students’ awareness of what Homi Bhabha refers to as the forces of centering whereby colonial discourses encourage a turning into the colonial center.


  • Stage 1: The tutor creates a wiki that has a table with a series of questions that require answers (e.g. Who was Geronimo?, What was the Zulu war all about?) for which they may have some inkling but little detailed knowledge.
  • Stage 2: The students are then requested to sign up for one/two questions then undertake the necessary research and build an answer with other students (both in their cohort and in years to come). It is a good idea for the tutor to do the first one as an example and to model good practice.
  • Stage 3: The students are then required to read other students' work and comment on them and make any appropriate links between the pages.
  • Stage 4: The students are asked to reflect on their learning (this could be via a blog or learning journal) and how their opinions/attitudes may have changed from undertaking this activity.

 Wiki Tools

Campus Pack is being removed from Bightspace after the 20/21 Academic Year. Below is a list of alternative resources in Brightspace and Microsoft Teams: 

Brightspace ePortfolio Tool

Each student automatically has an ePortfolio where they can reflect on all aspects of their studies as well as a link to specific content items. Students will be able to submit an item or a collection to an assessment inbox in Brightspace. 

Class Notebook in Teams and Useful Links to Websites or Resources in Brightspace:

Within your Module Team, each student is given their own section of the Class Notebook, which can be tailored to a specific use case. This resource will allow students to add wiki posts to the same document within the virtual environment.  

 Full advantages and disadvantages of the above tools

 References to Scholarly Articles:

 Deters, F., Cuthrell, K., & Stapleton, J. (2010). Why wikis? student perceptions of using wikis in online coursework. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(1), 122.

 Gomes, R., & Sousa, L. (2013). Teaching and learning through wikis in higher education. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 3(6), 627-633. 

 HULBERT-WILLIAMS, N. J. (2010). Facilitating collaborative learning using online wikis: Evaluation of their application within postgraduate psychology teaching. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 9(1), 45.

 Lai, Y. C., & Ng, E. M. W. (2011). Using wikis to develop student teachers' learning, teaching, and assessment capabilities. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(1), 15-26. 

Wheeler, S., Yeomans, P., & Wheeler, D. (2008). The good, the bad and the wiki: Evaluating student-generated content for collaborative learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(6), 987-995.

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