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July 9, 2010 / Cameron Campbell

WIKI? What?

After talking to several faculty members and having heard a number of presentations about wikis in the last few months I thought that we should have a disscussion about their use with in tertiary education.

But first, a bit of context!

What the heck is a wiki? Wikipedia describes them thusly:

” A wiki ( /ˈwɪki/ WIK-ee) is a website that allows the easy[1] creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor.[2][3] Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used to create collaborative wiki websites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.

Wikis may exist to serve a specific purpose, and in such cases, users use their editorial rights to remove material that is considered “off topic.” Such is the case of the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia.[3] In contrast, open purpose wikis accept content without firm rules as to how the content should be organized.

Ward Cunningham, the developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as “the simplest online database that could possibly work.”[4] “Wiki” (pronounced [ˈwiti] or [ˈviti]) is a Hawaiian word for “fast”.[5] “Wiki” has been backronymed by some to “What I Know Is”.[6]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

Another, perhaps simpler definition can be found at TechTerms.com

“A wiki is a Web site that allows users to add and update content on the site using their own Web browser. This is made possible by Wiki software that runs on the Web server. Wikis end up being created mainly by a collaborative effort of the site visitors. A great example of a large wiki is the Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia in many languages that anyone can edit. The term “wiki” comes from the Hawaiian phrase, “wiki wiki,” which means “super fast.” I guess if you have thousands of users adding content to a Web site on a regular basis, the site could grow “super fast.””

If you’re more of a visual type, perhaps you could watch this video

Ok, but what’s it for?

In the context of education, a wiki could be used for a number of things. While I’m loath to narrow the discussion to specific examples (it would be nice to see people coming up with cool new ways to use this technology) one way we could use a wiki would be for online, collaborative group work, though there are other technologies that could also be used for this purpose (google docs etc).

Here’s 50 ways you can use Wikis in education.

FLI has set up a number of wikis that you should have received invitations to join. If you want to take a peek at them and can’t find your invite contact me and I’ll set you up with an account.

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One Comment

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  1. Renard / Jul 23 2010 10:43 pm

    I like the link you gave to “50 ways” to use a wiki. I’ve tried the suggestion there for making a glossary – the students loved it and learned the terms along the way.

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