Wikis and their Effectiveness in the Classroom

Wiki’s – Even this Dummy Can Use Them!

<p><a href=”″>Wikis in th

Wikis vary in their features and it is through the examination of these features that we choose the type of wiki that is most suitable for our particular purpose.  Wiki code has been made available under the General Public Licence (GNU), which means that any developer can create their own wiki clone – and there are many of these clones available for download at no charge (Augar, Raitman & Zhou, 2004).  It is up to us then, as the educator to select the wiki that has the features most suited to the task we wish to use it for.  This means that as the teacher is generally the administrator of the wiki, tit is important to make sure you have the skills required to perform editing, backup, recovery and authentication.

So, some questions we need to ask ourselves are:

  • Where can I use a wiki in the learning experiences I design for my students?
  • How will a wiki enhance the learning experience of the students – and importantly, myself?
  • Is the use of this wiki actually value adding to the lesson, or is it ICT for ICT’s sake?
  • How can I assess the work of the students?
  • Is the use of a wiki an authentic method of assessment?

The list of these types of questions could be endless, so let’s see what some people who have used wiki’s as an educational tool have to say.

Watch this video for a great explanation of how a school can utilise wikis in a multitude of ways – here are  just a few:

  • Creating their own texts books
  • Collaborating with students from other schools
  • Peer teaching
  • Centralising documents and resources

Plus – there were two great quotes from Mark Osborne that I found particularly enlightening:

“Without sharing there is no education.”  

    “The more people collaborate, the better the resources get.”

<p><a href=”″>Mark

Here is a wiki created by a Year 3/4 class as part of a creative writing exercise.   It is a ‘choose your own  path’ story and as noted at the foot of the page – most of the work was done by the students out of their normal class time.  Indicating it was an engaging and motivating activity that they wanted to participate in!  What more can we ask of a task we set our students.  Read the story of “Terry the Tennis Ball.”

a tennis ball

Click here to read Terry’s story and create your own ending.


Click here to view a Primary Literacy Wiki that has some great ideas!

Solar System

Here is another wiki about exploring the Solar System!

Now what about Educators who have used wikis successfully?  Are you one of these progressive, curious and intrepid explorers?  Or are you a teeny, tiny bit intimidated?

Here is a wiki that discusses the advantages of using wikis in the classroom.  How ironic!

So if you build it – they will come?  Not necessarily!  Care must be taken to ensure that the wiki will actually enhance the learning of your students; this article by David R. Wetzel outlines 5 strategies for using wikis in the classroom.


Want to make your wiki more effective, relevant and engaging? Read this article by David R. Wetzel.

50th Birthday

Click on this delicious link to ingest 50 ideas for using wikis collaboratively and interactively in the classroom.

Before you review the 50 suggestions for using Wikis in the  link, take the time to get a pen and paper and as you go through the 50 ideas listed, jot down the number of the 5 that you would be most likely and most interested in using in your classroom.  Then, take the survey below and vote for your 5.  After you have voted, see how many like minded educators would chose the same ideas as you.

Reflect on the most popular choice.  Ask yourself the following questions and then, leave a comment for others to view and reply to below.

Is the most popular idea one of the 5 that your selected?

If it was, what do you think makes it so attractive to educators?

If it wasn’t one of your chosen 5, go back and review the idea and try to look at it from a different perspective.  What do  you  think has made it so popular?  Would you reconsider it after reflecting on it again, or would it still be out of your top 5?

Have you got idea number 51?  Share it with us on this wiki page!

English: Wiki Wiki bus at the Honolulu Interna...

Click on this image of the shuttle bus to Wiki Wiki to enter our Wiki page. Record your thoughts, ideas, resources and reflections.


“Without sharing, there is no education!”    AND   “The more people collaborate, the better resources get!”

Mark Osborne

  1. Sonia says:

    There are seemingly an endless number of reasons for using wikis as student research, review and presentation. Each of which are just as important as the other, thank you for highlighting these and bringing to light the importance of such to the classroom.

    • Chris McCann says:

      Thanks Sonia. I agree, the more research I did the more ways I could think of to use a wiki as a tool. The 50 ideas in the link started me really thinking. Each idea made me think about ways to tweak or adjust them to create even further suggestions.
      One extension I thought of for the first idea:
      Virtual field trips: Have your students research far away places they would like to go on a field trip, and get them to share images and information about the location.
      Have students choose one location, and share their images and information. As the teacher contact a school in that location and see if there is a similar Year level that will link up on the wiki – perhaps posting pictures of the locations your students have chosen and exchanging further information, more details and adding their own local knowledge.

  2. Kim Sandford says:

    Im the first to vote so I cant compare.
    I would have to say that #28 would be a great class activity, each child starts a story, then each student adds to each story, so in the end you will have 28 or so stories created by the entire class, each collaborating with the ideas of the student before.

    • Chris McCann says:

      Kim, it is a great idea. I have found that students love to read the books that they have created themselves. This could be a great way to utilise a wiki, even to the extent that parents may be able to view the creations of the kids. Always fun for students to share their work with their parents.

  3. Bec White says:

    Wow, such great ideas for using wikis in the classroom. I loved the Hall of Fame idea as teachers need to celebrate students achievements. The hall of fame allows the teacher, student, parents and other school members to celebrate also.

    Secondly, I also like the the classroom FAQ idea as it allows students to present questions and answers of problems they uncovered through certain units so it can help other students when they come to complete the same unit.

    I love anything to do with peer review, editing and teaching. I really believe that students learn more when they are either teaching or learning from their peer. It allows them to firstly synthesise the information in their own minds and then deliver this in a student friendly way. It improves their communication skills along with their listening skills. So I also like idea 11 of peer review.

    • Chris McCann says:

      Thanks Bec for participating! You have made some great points as you have worked through our event. I too found the 50 ideas for wikis a great resource. Especially as it seems to give you a real kick start into thinking of extensions of these ideas and even further ideas to use.

      You are right that student collaboration is one of the greatest ways wikis can be used in the classroom. There are so many examples of how they are utilised on the web and I have just provided a few.

      Thanks again

  4. Helen McNulty says:

    Wikis are a very interactive tool to use in the classroom. As a high school teacher, I think they are a great way to introduce topics as every student can contribute comments and ideas to demonstrate prior knowledge or brainstorm the new concept. It is also good for exam revision and study notes for older students and for developing content terminology (particularly in the middle school) using glossaries and vocabulary lists.

    In my experience students love using technology and often the more interactive we make the lesson, the more engaged they become in the learning process. (Note…last lesson Friday afternoon is always the exception to any rule!!)

    Thanks for posting such great ideas to enable us to continue to develop our use of ICT’s in the classroom!

    • Chris McCann says:

      Thanks for your feedback Helen!
      I agree that last lesson Friday is always a challenge! Your ideas for demonstrating prior knowledge are and brainstorming are relevant – also a good way to keep a record of what they know at the beginning of a unit and compare and reflect on that at the end of the learning journey (top level Blooms activity).
      You are right, students love technology and are generally keen to use it – especially these types of social media that they are so fluent with in their everyday lives. We should be using every advantage we can in our classrooms to keep them interested and active learners.

  5. Jannelle McCullough says:

    You have covered this topic quite well, and provided us with some great examples of what/how/why Wiki’s should be utilised within the classroom. It is essential to have efficient ICT operation skills as a teacher as many of the learning opportunities that can present themselves within the 21st century classroom are internet based and teachers who are not up to date with their ICT skills are not providing their students with a well rounded education.
    I found it difficult to choose only 5 of the options, as I would love to use so many of the options available. However, I believe that it is essential for any teacher and classroom to have access to an online class collaborative site such as a Wiki or website. This is the most efficient way to communicate not only with the students within a class, but with other teachers, parents and families.
    This is a very insightful page, and I will be keeping the link for further reference…

    • Chris McCann says:

      Thanks Jannelle, your feedback is appreciated. I agree that collaborative sites are a great tool for teachers to communicate with their peers, students and the parents of their students.
      I like your point that not including ICT in your classroom means that your are not providing a well rounded experience to your students.
      I agree with this, students really do need to develop these skills to be productive citizens in the society they will be immersed in as adults.

  6. Stella says:

    As educators it is so important to keep up-to-date in the area of ICT. As the classroom environment is always changing to suit the needs of the students so are we as educators need to change and keep abreast with the many changes in ICT. Students of today are very different from past students especially in their needs. ICT is the students’ world and we need to offer this world to them in the classroom. Being digitally aware is a positive step in being a life long learner.

    ICT has allowed the world to enter into the classroom, especially, with programs such as WIKI, Blogging, YouTube and Facebook. The classroom is no longer an isolated learning environment but one that if the educator is proactive, an environment that is keeping up-to-date with the world.

    This link is an example of how educators of today are adapting their pedagogy to meet the needs of children.

    • Chris McCann says:

      Thanks for your comments Stella.
      You are right when you say that ICT is the students’ world and we need to connect that digital world they are so immersed in to the classroom environment. I agree that being digitally aware ourselves shows that we are modelling the lifelong learner attribute so often espoused in the Educational policies and documents of schools and governments.
      We can invite the world into our classroom and conversely, we can explore the world from our classroom, in a truly authentic manner. With the aid of ICT’s and social media we can connect to all corners of the globe.
      We certainly need to bring ourselves into the digital world, not just in our personal life, as many of us have done, but also in our professional lives as well.

  7. Ashleigh says:

    The most popular are currently glossary, peer review, track projects and literature circles. The only one of these I did not select was glossary. I did think it sounded like a great idea, I was just limited with only being able to select 5. I think that all of the suggestions are great and I would definitely consider using a wiki in many of the suggested ways. My suggestion for a 51st idea is that students ‘become an expert’ where they run a wiki page at the end of a unit, where they become the teachers. However this is reasonably similar to already suggested ideas.

    I really liked the idea of a class newspaper, where students could be given different tasks (such as creating, designing and photographing). I sounds like a great class project that could be run year round and used to keep parents up to date regarding what is happening in the classroom.

    • Chris McCann says:

      Ashleigh, just want to really thank you for your participation in all sections of our OLE. You have made valuable and pointed comments in all sections.
      Again, at the risk of sounding repetitious, I like your idea of having a class newspaper running year round as an information source for parents. Great job for the students and great resource for parents!
      I also felt that most of the 50 ideas listed were ideas I would be happy to experiment with in my own classroom. Some of them were quite innovative and I don’t think I could have thought of even half this number on my own.
      Another example of social constructivism at work – collaboration certainly expands the knowledge of those involved.

  8. Chris McCann says:

    These are currently the most popular choices for the ways to use a wiki in the classroom (from the article in the link).

    Glossary: Get your class to create a glossary of terms they use and learn about in new units, adding definitions and images
    Peer review: Allow students to draft their papers in a wiki, then ask other students to comment it.
    Vocabulary lists: Encourage students to submit words that they had trouble with, along with a dictionary entry.
    Track projects: With wikis, it’s easy for students to see which tasks have been completed and which ones still need to be fulfilled.
    Literature circles: Host a book club on your wiki where students are required to read the same book, then discuss it on the wiki.

  9. Ana Gonzalez says:

    I voted for a few of the activities with several other votes. However, from a learning disabilities point of view I like the Track projects wiki. Students with learning disabilities often have problems with organisation skills. My experience has been that they are often late with their projects or they feel overwhelmed with a whole task sheet not knowing what to do first and where to go from there. This type of wiki should aid to ease the anxiety for these students.

    The other activity that I really liked and that would tick a lot of the curriculum descriptors is a classroom newspaper. This activity can form part of literacy groups and it could be shared with parents and the school community.

  10. thank you for replying it is great to here from someone thinking of those with learning disabilities. Chrstine is our expert on wikis (but currently at work). I had not thought that a wiki would be a great way for these students to keep up to date. Will look ay this again now you have pointed out how to use it.

    • Chris McCann says:

      Thanks Michelle for replying for me!
      Ana, the classroom newspaper has been a popular choice and I think that it is because it is something that students can share with their wider community – parents, relatives, the community.
      I think you are the first to comment on a wiki from a Learning Disability point of view and your points are definitely ones we should consider. Organisational skills could be greatly improved if students are able to access their progress through a particular task via a checkpoint list of even just through viewing a timetable for what is coming up the next day and ensuring they have the equipment required to participate.
      Thanks for your ideas.

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