Wikis provide spaces for collaborative writing. A wiki can be set up for the entire class to contribute to, or for specific groups. All members of a group, or all members of the class, will be able to create wiki pages and edit any wiki page, not just those they created.

Wikis are:

  • Collaborative writing spaces that are organized as one or more pages with a table of contents
  • Also suited to mundane tasks like a sign-up sheet. Everyone can edit that single page.
  • Unique in that they store the history of every page so you can see or “roll back” to earlier versions of that page
  • Able to track how much each student has contributed. You can see any given students contributions.

They work best for projects that will have a book-like structure with specific sections, for example, a lab report, a series of case studies, descriptive articles, class summaries and outlines, a place to collect and comment on resources, or build a collection of poems or other short writing.

You can also set times for when the wiki can be edited and when it can be viewed. This allows you to have a firm date for completing the project yet leave it open for students to continue viewing and adding comments.

Blackboard allows you to create multiple wikis in each course. For example, you might simultaneously have:

  • a semester-long Wiki for everyone in the course to create a course handbook or study guide
  • group wikis for project research, drafting, and final versions
  • a separate course wiki for students to post links to slideshows

As with all Blackboard courses, the student work in a wiki can only be seen by the class and the course itself will only be visible to the students for as long as the course is open.

Helpful Links:

Assignment Ideas for Wikis

  • Use a wiki for an “ice-breaker.” Have each student interview another student, write a brief biography, then post that to a class bio wiki.
  • Have students create a class expanded bibliography or resource wiki. Each student posts one or more articles or resources, then writes a brief description or informative summary of that item.
  • Annotation assignments: have students annotate a literary work, article, or other piece that you post.
  • Topic or assignment claim list: post a list of topics or a schedule to a wiki page and have students sign up for their chosen topic or time slot by simply adding their names next to it.
  • Have students build a course notebook. Assign one or two students to take notes during each class, then post those notes to a wiki.
  • Create a class glossary. Have students choose the terms to be defined or you provide them ahead of time. (Blackboard also has a specific Glossary tool for this task.
  • Create a wiki space for each student to write their individual research paper or major project. They can use it for the drafts and for the final product.
  • Post student Powerpoint presentations to a central course wiki page.
  • Have students create or augment a Knowledge Base, Study Guide, or Help Guide for the class. Each student can be assigned or choose a topic for which they will become the “expert.”

To have a successful wiki experience

  • Make instructions explicit and provide clear expectations.
  • Build in time for practice.
  • Publish due dates for multi-phase projects.
  • Start with a simple wiki assignment before attempting a large, collaborative project.
  • Devote one page of the wiki to assigning roles, deciding and documenting who will do what, or tracking progress. For example, students may be resources collectors, writers, editors, organizers, or all of the above.
  • Decide, or discuss with students to get their input, on how the wiki work will be assessed.

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