Texas Tech University

Using Wikis and Blogs

Wikis (a web application which allows collaborative modification, such as Wikipedia) and blogs ("weblogs," or online journals) are very popular in our computer-driven society, not only in the social setting, but also in education -- and for good reason! Both wikis and blogs are easy to use, effective, innovative, engaging, and provide for collaborative learning for face-to-face and online instruction. More importantly, they provide environments for community learning.

Why Should You Use Wikis and Blogs in Your Course?

Wikis and blogs are innovative tools for an online course.  Although the effective use of them will be key for this to be true.  They are great for communicating with students and among students themselves. Wikis and Blogs motivate collaboration and project logging, encourage student-center learning, and are a great way to provide learner support.

In education, there are many ways to use each. Below are limited examples of the endless possibilities.  Many of these ideas not only apply to a student-instructor relationship but also colleague and departmental relationships.

Ways to Use Wikis and Blogs in Online Courses

  • Documenting process of a project
  • Logging of individual contribution to projects
  • Student reflections including journal type reflections
  • Discussion
  • Group assignments
  • Note sharing
  • Real world demonstrations
  • Storytelling
  • Students help students
  • e-Portfolios for students and instructors
  • Knowledge Base for a course presentation of assignments such as PowerPoint slides

Tips and Recommendations

  • Plan to provide a grading rubric in the syllabus. The purpose being essentially to inform students how outcomes/objectives for an activity completed through this tool will be measured.
  • Define Netiquette Guidelines in syllabus.
  • Give control to students and allow them to learn from each other. At the same time, think thoroughly what editing capabilities students will have and what they will be able to do with those capabilities.
  • Define a structure for students by defining instructor's responsibility for replies and feedback to posts: frequency, hours, etc. and the student's responsibilities for netiquette, replies, assignment submissions, etc.
  • Consistency in communication is key to the success of a wiki.
  • Plan how you will keep the conversation going in order to encourage and motivate students to post content.

Resources for Wikis and Blogs in Online Courses

  • Wikidefined by the most popular wiki known, Wikipedia.
  • 7 Things You Should Know About Privacy in a Web 2.0 Learning Environment
    This article addresses concerns about privacy, especially as it relates to work that students are asked to complete outside of an institution's firewall.
  • 7 Things You Should Know About WikisThe ‘7 Things You Should Know About... series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning practices and technologies.”
  • Using Blogs & Wikis in Higher EducationYouTube video of Jeremy Friedberg, PhD, from the University of Toronto, on using blogs and wikis in higher education.
  • The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities"These technologies enable desirable practices such as collaborative content creation, peer assessment, formative evaluation of student work, individual as well as group reflection on learning experiences, and up-to-date information regarding changes in collaborative spaces, and can be used in the development of authentic learning tasks.”
  • Wiki as a Teaching Tool“This paper explains wiki usage, investigates its contribution to various learning paradigms, examines the current literature on wiki use in education, and suggests additional uses in teaching software engineering.”

Examples

Blogs

  • EduBlogs is a site specifically for teachers, students, librarians, researchers, professors, administrators, corporate trainers and anyone else involved in education.”
  • WordPress WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog.

Wikis

  • GoogleSites is a free and easy way to create and share webpages.
  • PBWorks allows you to capture knowledge, share files, and manage projects within a secure, reliable environment.
  • WetPaint is a wiki with a great blend of social media in the mix.
  • Wikispaces is an attempt to build a wiki that's easy to use and easy to adopt for all kinds of audiences.
  • Piazza  is a place where students can come together to ask, answer, and explore under the guidance of their instructor. Piazza has been described as a mixture between wiki and forum” at TechCrunch.

Working Examples of Wikis and Blogs

These are templates from GoogleSites that showcase how you could use this is wiki for an online course.