Why Use a Teaching Wiki?



mediawiki

mediawiki


Tools | MediaWiki


I use the open-source MediaWiki to keep track of my courses, syllabuses, lessons, and other teaching materials. It’s installed on a subdomain of this website, and students visit regularly.

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When I first started with wiki software, I kept all of the pages locked from editing to prevent accidents or vandalism. Students could see material but not contribute their own edits.
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When I began teaching technical writing, I decided to open select pages for student contribution. Allowing students to use wiki software not only teaches collaboration, it facilitates public and community discourse. Essentially, a wiki is a website with an open editing system. According to this essay from The Professional & Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, wikis can function as technological vehicles for exercising higher thought. Wikis also help introduce students to markup languages.

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As an educator often overwhelmed with paperwork, I recommend wiki software as an easy-to-use, easy-to-navigate database. Wiki software is especially great for syllabuses since it keeps a permanent record of all edits. Syllabuses are a strange genre: they are both contracts and living documents; they demand exactness and yet they remain open for revision. Wiki software solves this contradiction beautifully.
  From VanderBilt U   

"One of the primary reasons to use wikis is because they help your students reach Bloom’s higher order skills – things like creating and evaluating. Additionally, wikis achieve many of Chickering and Ehrmann good teaching practices including cooperation between students, active learning, prompt feedback from peers, time on task, the articulation of high expectations, and support for diverse talents.

Practically, we also think that wikis are a good tool to use because access and editing can be controlled by the instructor thus making a wiki public or private. Additionally, wikis are accessible online and include user friendly features that require little training. It’s likely your students will know exactly what to do!"