More about Wikis

There are a number of wiki platforms out there, but the one used most by educators seems to be Wikispaces. One reason is the ease of use. Another is that Wikispaces will give teachers a free no-advertising wiki, if requested. 

Once you have your wiki, I suggest that you create individual pages for each student. These pages become the “first page” of the story where the student story begins. They can begin writing simply just by clicking the “edit” button on the page.

As the student presents choices for the reader, they create a new page on the wiki merely by highlighting the text of the choice, clicking on the create hyperlink icon in the tool bar and making a new page in the wiki.  The link will automatically go to the new page. 

Here is where things get a little complicated with Wikispaces because only registered users can create new pages. My workaround here is that I set up an account within my wiki (using a gmail that I have just for student projects) and share that with students. They log in and then make their pages. The hyperlink then moves them to the new page, where they can start the process all over again.

I should note that during this time, the wiki is technically “open” and anyone can edit anyone else’s information and pages. This requires a bit of a discussion about the community of writers and what that means when it comes to other people’s work. I also show them how the wiki archives “versions” of work, so one can revert back to a past revision. That said, I have never had a student mess with another student’s work. But it can happen, and the best way to address this potential is in advance (ie, if you mess with someone’s wiki page, you have lost computer privileges.)

When the project is complete, I close down the wiki to editing to the public, and change the password for the guest username that I created for student use. The wiki then becomes a publishing platform for reading and exploring, but students can no longer go in and edit.

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