Collaborative Learning through Wikis
during my 10+ years of teach- ing, I have seen how excited students become after accomplishing learning goals with the help
of their peers. If you aren’t using
collaborative online tools in your
classroom, one way to get started
is by using wikis, which are ad free
for teachers if you sign up at Wikispaces for Educators or PBWorks
Educational sites allow students
to collaborate in real time with their
peers via audio, chat, and video. Their
reports, stories, websites, videos, and
podcasts—can be posted online and
become part of another person’s learning process.
Put Wikis to Work
Many schools may have a free school
website on their servers, but wikis
allow for more collaboration and participation by both students and teachers. A wiki allows learners to add,
edit, and revise information on the
site. And by embedding free widgets
and tools, educators can bring a social
networking aspect to the curriculum.
Think of a wiki as a virtual classroom
where learning takes place seven days
a week because students can contribute their ideas from anywhere with
an internet connection. They can also
consume the information they choose
using the medium they prefer. In this
way, a wiki also helps students personalize and take responsibility for their
Learn from Social Networks
Students already use social networking
sites, such as Facebook, to share infor-
mation and learn from each other. So
when creating your wiki, it is impor-
tant to mimic the design and features
available on popular social networking
sites to enhance communication, shar-
ing, and collaboration.
Give Students Choices
You can also allow your students to
decide how they want to brainstorm
with each other. Some will use chat,
which you can accommodate by embedding a chat widget. Others may
want to collaborate through a forum.
Wikispace templates already include a
discussion forum page, and PBWorks
will allow you to embed one. Students
may want to collaborate on a Google
Doc or through mind-mapping tools,
which you can embed in a wiki using
Embed Collaboration Tools
You can easily embed widgets in a wiki
by clicking Edit and then choosing
from a menu of tools. Or you can select
the HTML and paste the embed code.
Here are a few tools you can embed to
make your wiki support collaborative
and participatory learning:
Wallwisher. This is a wall where students add digital sticky notes of text,
images, audio, video, or links. You can
embed the entire wall in a wiki page
so students can easily offer tips, opinions, video recordings, or ideas on
any topic. For example, if students are
researching a topic, they can report
their findings on the Wallwisher.
Twtpoll. This poll allows students to
survey each other on various topics.
Twtpoll has a nice layout when embedded in your wiki and shows a pie chart
of the answer after students vote.
Photopeach. This is a multimedia tool
that looks like a slideshow. In addition
to using it to create a presentation with
music and images, students can create
animated quizzes about specific topics
Fotobabble. This is a great tool for
sharing personal stories quickly and
easily. Students narrate the images
they upload. They can even create
their stories using their iPhones if
they’ve downloaded the free app.
Students can narrate a specific point
in history or introduce themselves to
their peers. Add a comment widget so
peers can leave feedback.
Google tools. When students collaborate using docs, spreadsheets,
presentation slides, and forms, they
can embed them on the wiki. These
documents continue to stay open to
editing. Using Google Forms, students
can survey others’ work, then view the
results in various charts and graphs.
Voice Thread. This site allows students
to upload videos or images collaboratively in a presentation format.
Viewers can upload an avatar image
By Shelly Sanchez Terrell