Birthday week: Happy birthday to YOU

In a way, it’s not just us turning five this week. Sure, we set the table, but you guys brought the cake. The way we see it, this is your birthday, too.

So we talked to some people who’ve seen us through a few birthdays: Vicki Davis, one of the founders of Flat Classroom, has been with us since 2005, and Dan Beeby, an educational technologist at Columbia University, has been with us since 2007.

“The keys to our future as a human race lie in the untapped potential of true, ethical, meaningful collaboration,” says Vicki. And that’s what we’ve seen, in these five years: people bridging distances, bringing nation to nation, classroom to classroom, tying plan to execution and the past to the future. As Dan points out, in higher education they’re even breaking down silos between semesters: “It’s easy to carry one semester to the next, just by renaming the wiki. So the original work the students have done isn’t lost forever in a course management system.” Without all those barriers, so many things are suddenly possible. The horizon is closer, and it’s broader than ever.

And that’s the thing, really. It’s not just that your work keeps us going: it’s that the ways you work challenge and inspire us. A few people who’ve done some truly excellent things in the past year (or more) told us what they’re up to. We bet you’ll think their wikis are as cool as we do.

TheScienceClassroom

Among other things, Jody Bowie’s high school students are actually writing their own textbook. Their work is visible to the public, so you really should check it out, and let Jody know that he’s managed to bring “new meaning to the idea of teaching students to ‘consider their audience’ when writing:”

I see this project as a way for students to begin to create an online portfolio. In fact, I had a student who wanted to know if she “could use the wiki project to show her previous writing work” for a summer workshop in which she was participating. I said, “of course!”

Mr. Bruce’s History

Two and a half years ago, Larry Bruce decided to give his 9th and 10th grade social studies students a more global perspective on collaboration along with a solid education in U.S. History. With student portfolios, a classroom calendar, and a posted curriculum, he’s done just that:

From small-scale partner assignments (Inaugural Addresses) to larger collaborative tasks where students worked with classmates from other class periods asynchronously (The Big Kahuna), our wiki was a place to publish. Simply put, our wiki WORKS for us. As my students mastered introductory elements and uses, I kept reinventing how we (collectively) employed the platform.

Genefish

Steven Roberts, Assistant Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, wanted to share science. So he gave his students a place to keep their lab notebooks online:

We use it for almost all aspects of our research activities including protocols, location of resources, and general communication. One key aspect is that all members maintain an electronic lab notebook using Wikispaces. This allows everyone (including the public) to follow what we are doing in real-time.

Garmin Oregon

Complicated devices like the Garmin Oregon outdoor handheld GPS device can be confusing. To help, Scott Dresser created a community that acts as a reference space and a forum for Garmin Oregon owners.

Integration with a wide range of media types is one thing that I like about Wikispaces; support for different kinds of media, file downloads, and video helps a lot when you are trying to present information to new users. Since I have multiple wikis and a related WordPress blog, one thing I wanted was an integrated search function using Google custom search. Wikispaces custom templates allowed me to easily integrate a search function that searches results across all of my sites and returns relevant results.

Some closing thoughts

It’s exciting, this birthday thing. Because, as far as we’ve come, there are always more challenges, and better ways of looking at things — and we’re learning about that through you.

At Columbia, Dan tells us, they’re constantly finding new and better ways to work with the wikis on their Private Label site. “It’s an iterative cycle. We assess what the instructor is looking for and make suggestions. We expose the weaknesses or strengths, then make changes the next time.” And, whether you’re working in a university, or a school district, or a company or non-profit, or just building a community around the things that you’re passionate about, it’s been exciting for us to watch you do just that.

And now we’ll let Vicki drive it home, because she really says it better than we ever could:

I wish Wikispaces a heartfelt happy birthday for their fifth year. In the five years with Wikispaces, they continue to respond and grow and help us press forward to the true collaborative editing environment that has become the gold standard of what we do in the Flat Classroom projects. We create and we collaborate and that is also what Wikispaces does.

Thank you, Vicki, Dan, Jody, Larry, Steve, and Scott. And thank you, too, to all the rest of you out there, for all the amazing things you’ve done in these last five years. Happy birthday, from all of us to all of you.

Let us know what you’re doing with your wiki or Private Label site: help@wikispaces.com.

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14 Comments

  1. Posted March 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Wikispaces! You are the #1 technology tool I use in my classroom! I don’t know what I would do without it. Yeah I do, I’d have to go back and use a textbook a whole lot more. Now that would be boring!

    Happy 5th birthday.

  2. Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Yay for wikis! I’m just a kid, but my 5th and 6th grade teachers used wikispaces a lot and I just got hooked! It’s like… I can’t compare this site with anything that can be its equal. Happy 5th birthday and many more!

  3. Tammy Summerville
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday, Wikispaces! You have created excitement for the use of 21st century technology tools. Keep up the good work!

    I do have a question. Is it possible to embed some cute backgrounds in my wikispace page using templates, backgrounds, and banners from “The Cutest Blog on the Block?” I also maintain a parent blog in addition to the wikispace for my staff and would love to be able to jazz up my wikispace.

  4. Posted March 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday, Wikispaces!

  5. Debbie
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Hi Tammy,

    Yes, you can. You should be able to embed items by going in to edit the page, selecting the Widget icon, selecting Other HTML, and following the instructions onscreen. If you have any trouble let us know at help@wikispaces.com

    Cheers,
    Debbie

  6. Posted March 24, 2010 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    I checked the many wikis that I create for the teachers in my school. The earliest one that I found was created Dec 2006. It’s been an upward shot of creativity since then. We have created and collaborated around the world. The wiki has become our project-based learning platform and we presented one of our 5th grade literature based projects at NECC 2009. We have shared a cultural exchange project with a school in Russia where both teachers and students alike became friends. The wiki has opened the world to students and expanded learning and understanding from Columbia University students to 3rd graders at St. James Episcopal Day School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I would say “who could ask for more”, but the innovative wikispaces team always seems to answer that question without it being asked! Happy Birthday! Rebecca

  7. Posted March 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    happy birthday to u happy birthday to u happy birthday dear wiki space happy birthday to u

  8. Posted March 29, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    happy birthday

  9. Posted March 29, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    bon anniversaire!

    Wikispaces!!!

    Je m’amuse beaucoup avec Wikispaces!

  10. ricardo
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    congratulations Wikispaces!!!! and thanks A LOT for providing such a useful and free service!!!

  11. Posted April 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, Wikispaces! You’ve transformed the way I teach and the way that students/parents connect with our school. That is a tremendous accomplishment.

  12. Dragon's Eye
    Posted April 7, 2010 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Not that I have used Wikis very much, but this looks promising! I have quite a bit going on, but this looks like a great place to start something productive and informative.

    I have seen some good wikis out in “net-land”, so there is obviously some variety and a lot of good stuff.

    Here’s to another year of good cheers and wonderful possibilities!

    Congrats!!!

  13. Posted April 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Congratulations! I am so happy for wikispaces right now! see. :-) :-) :-)

  14. Posted April 13, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Hi everyone! i just joined wiki spaces but i don’t know what to do on here. i have explored but no luck. please help me. thank ya! =)

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  • By Wiki examples and a happy birthday on March 25, 2010 at 8:22 am

    […] old, and they’re making celebratory posts to their blog all week. Pay particular attention to this one, in which they list out some of their key collaborators and offer up some excellent examples of […]

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