Digitally Speaking – Week Fourteen: Using Wikis in the English Classroom

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I am developing a Wiki for use with a project on the novel Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, an insightful work that immediately engages students as they learn the important lessons of life.  As you know, Wikis, collaborative web-based sites with open editing, have met with some resistance in education.  As is often the case with incorporating Web 2.0 tools in the curriculum, teachers must make sure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.  One advantage to Wikis is that they can be used to change the individual focus of traditional instruction to one of student collaboration.  Planning and creativity are vital to developing the most effective instruction that meets student learning expectations.  I found David Wetzel’s article “5 Strategies for Using Wikis in the Classroom: Engaging Students in Technology Projects that Support Learning” to be helpful while I was developing my Wiki.  I have included a summary of his major points.

1.  Collaborative Projects using Wikis.  This works especially well as long as the teacher has clear guidelines on what is expected on the project and the roles class members will be expected to fulfill.  2.  Students Demonstration of Knowledge.  Student responses to the Wiki should demonstrate an understanding of the learning expectations.  3.  Online Resources for Classroom Use.  Teachers should provide a list of accepted online resources that students can use on the project.  4.  Wikis as a Classroom Webpage.  Use the class Wiki to post a calendar of events, homework assignments, links to Glogs, and collaborative projects  5. Wiki Filing Cabinet.  Teachers can use a teacher access controlled area to store working drafts and to backup resources.

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